Executing a Vision
Jack Perkowski is the chairman and chief executive officer of ASIMCO Technologies, one of the most important players in China's automotive components industry. He founded the company in February 1994, after spending three years investigating opportunities in Asia and China and before others recognized the significant role that China would play in the global economy. With seventeen factories in eight provinces and fifty-two sales offices located in every corner of the country, ASIMCO Technologies is unique because it functions as a foreign-invested company built to specifically to serve the Chinese market. Under Perkowski's leadership, ASIMCO has gained a reputation for developing local management and integrating a broad-based China operation into the global economy. In 2005, ASIMCO was named one of the "Ten Best Employers in China," ranking third in a survey conducted by Hewitt Associates and 21st-Century Business Herald.
Jack’s new book Managing the Dragon: How I’m Building a Billion Dollar Business in China (Crown Business; March 18, 2008) discusses Jack’s experiences building ASIMCO from the ground up and the lessons he learned in developing the company’s local management team. The book also covers a wide range of topics such as decentralization; China’s different cost perspective and how it creates two markets for any product; intellectual property concerns; and practical advice on how to start a business in the country.
Jack Perkowski: No, amazingly, the major principles and the major tenants of our company were in place day 1. So the reason I focus on this industry, I saw a big future for the automotive business in China.
Now keep in mind in 1992, 1993 when I started this, China was doing about a million vehicles a year. A lot of people were excited about what China might become, but there are also for every person who’s excited, there are at least two or three skeptics and they said that China can never develop into a large auto industry.
But it seems to me that China is almost the same size as United States in terms of area, geographical area, and I felt that if you’re in the campus as I was in 1992 and you believe that China was going to continue to grow economically, as day follows night, it had to follow that China’s going to have a big auto industry, because how else do you get people and goods around the country that size without the highways and a lot of trucks, busses.
So, I become a big believer in the auto industry and I knew it would get big. It took a little bit longer than I thought, but I’d say it’s gotten bigger than I even imagine back then. But I knew it’s going to be one of the largest in the world within a relatively short period of time.
The component sector was interesting because the big assemblers were coming in to China but they had trouble dragging their suppliers in, so it was a vacuum.
And then the other piece that I said, “I’m not going to do anything in China unless we have a majority ownership.” And the reason for that was that I felt that it wasn’t enough to create a good company in China, we had to create a company who’s globally competitive. And that meant that whatever I found in China, no matter how good it might be, it had to change, so I had to be in a position to change. So that all came together in the beginning of ‘93 because the government passed the policy that said that they were trying to encourage investment components. And so they said that foreign investors and components could have majority.
So, by the beginning in 1993, it all kind of lined up. I like the industry. There was a vacuum in the component sector and the government said I can have majority. And the principles we were going to take a group of existing companies in China that had strong market positions. We’re going to put them together into one company. They’ll be much stronger because it had a wider product range. We’re going to bring in, we’re going to develop manager, we’re going to make these globally competitive company, so we’re not only become a big factor in the China market, but we’re also going to be competitive globally. It’s all going to revolve around our ability to really develop those management teams.
So, those principles were right there from the very beginning. They’re still in existence today. None of that has changed. Obviously, the tactics of how we did all that has changed over the years as we’ve confronted difficulties or seen new opportunities, but those basic tenets, basically, were still there.
Recorded on: September 22, 2008
The major tenets of Jack Perkowski’s company have been in place since day one.
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