Since I’ve been working in and with China, from 2001 until now, I’ve noticed companies in my line of work say on their websites that they have either an office or offices in China.

My response to that is “yeah right…”

As the world become smaller because of the internet and as competition thickens on what seems like a weekly basis, I’ve noticed more and more companies say they have an “overseas presence” and in particularly a China office.

On their contact page you will see the company’s USA address, their telephone # and many times, a contact person.

Then, underneath, they will have “China Office” and an address. But oddly enough, there is no telephone and no contact person…imagine that!

On the company’s about us page, it will mention that they have an office here or there and many times, there is that mysterious China office listed again.

It’s not secret that if a company deals in merchandise that comes off the shelves or that is worked into the promotional product industry, the vast majority of that product is made in China.

Therefore, I get why companies are doing this. They want to show their customers that they have a leg up on the competition and that they have full control of their supply chain. In these companies’ minds, it is a creative and marketable way of showing their expertise instead of saying:

We take your request and we shop it out from anywhere from 5 to 10 potential vendors. We go with whoever has the lowest price but of course we tell you, our customer, that WE DO NOT SELL ON PRICE BUT VALUEWe do not know if we’re buying directly from a production facility or from a company like us that is just another link of fluff in the supply chain. 

Why do I believe these companies do not have a real China office, a real staff and a real living, breathing operation in China?

1-  The amount of administrational work and effort it takes to put these offices into place and then maintain these offices. These 2 posts, that both just happened to be out today, from Dan Harris and his China law firm, inspired my thinking.

A-  China Employment Contracts: If Yours Are Not Current, You Have A Problem

B-  China’s Slowing Economy Means Its Tax Authorities Are Coming After You | Above the Law

Read these posts carefully and you can sense the amount of effort it takes to maintain these entities.

Think government, taxes, insurance, benefits, maternity leaves, vacation, etc… and you are telling me your company handles all of that?

2-  Then there is the training and the management of the staff. You who are saying you have a Chinese office.

Who trains the employees?

These employees are on the same page as you? In other words, these people you say are part of your company know your company philosophy, expectations and history?

Who handles the employees life affairs? Because you see, China is a different country and the employees expect something a little more from their employers in ways that Western companies do not provide their workers. Loyalty is a different beast in China…but like anywhere in the world, loyalty is under ongoing maintenance and relationships with employees are nurtured.

Spotlight your real value, not a make believe. Not to mention the difficulty of maintaining this facility, these folks, their efforts...

Spotlight your real value, not a make believe office. Not to mention the difficulty of maintaining this facility, these folks, their efforts…

From the time JLmade started in 2003, I’ve gone through the blood, sweat and tears of establishing a China office and keeping it maintained.

How do these companies who have never spent extensive time in the country, have no knowledge of the culture and fold like a $2 suitcase whenever production problems happens have this magical ability to have a thriving office?.

3- These same companies that say they have a China office, have come to my company for sourcing. This is fishy. My company has a China office. My company is a China office. In a million years, I would never consider contacting another company for help in doing what I say that we do.

These companies probably in fact have some form of “boots on the ground in China” that help them. But these folks are not true staff that is a properly maintained and thriving office in China.

It’s someone they pay on a case by case basis.

It’s someone or a group that has no true loyalty to the “head office” or to the success of the project. They only make an occasional commission or mark up, but they are not sold out to the betterment of the entire operation.

In fact this can be more detrimental then sourcing the project from a capable vendor because this pay-per-partnership company that is called the “China office” has not real stake in the project’s success. Their lack of loyalty and longterm view can affect the quality.

I’d be more creative in my marketing…