Exclusive Q&A With : David Leung, Head of sales for North America for Alco Electronics
Updated on: 01 Jul 2016
Dongguan City, June 28: A look inside Alco Electronics Ltd.'s factory in China shows what it takes to succeed as a maker of gadgets for the rest of the world - human precision in tiny tasks and increasingly automated manufacturing, but also flexible thinking and perks to keep the best employees.
Chinese workers in blue coats and caps worked on a production line making tablets during The Associated Press' recent visit to the 2.5 million-square-foot plant. Their tasks can be tedious, such as soldering a connecter onto a circuit board. Machines do things like inspect incoming circuit boards and tighten screws on tablets - automation that lowers costs and improves quality. A droning noise signals where tablets are undergoing testing for all functions for eight hours before they're packaged. That's critical to help reduce returns.
Sunroofs keep the production floor lit and reduce energy use
The company, which counts Wal-Mart Stores Inc. as one of its top five retail customers, gets about 60 percent of its sales from tablets and other computer products. Nearly 70 percent of its annual sales of about $330 million came from North America. It ships its products under the RCA and Venturer brands.
Alco, founded in 1968 to make AM/FM radios to export primarily to North America, has shifted with market demands. In 1980, it moved production from Hong Kong to China in search of cheaper labour. Due in part to automation and the changing labour market, it has about one-tenth of the employees it had at its peak of nearly 20,000 workers.
The company is now juggling customer demand for affordable but high-quality electronics as it wrestles with escalating labour pressures and other costs in China. David Leung, head of sales for North America, recently spoke with the AP about what's selling, the differences in the Chinese and U.S. markets, and what Alco needs to do to attract workers.
So the tablet is hot.
In the U.S., Wi-Fi is everywhere. So any device with the Wi-Fi capability is very popular. Content owners are putting the apps onto the tablet so they can sell directly to the consumer. We work directly with Wal-Mart on Vudu (which distributes movies over the internet to TVs.) The tablet is like a vending machine for your home. In peak times, we can do 40,000 (tablets) a day ... that is if all 200 components arrive on the same day.