A new person taking over the foremost position in a leading business is always looked at with great expectations for higher business growth, plethora of new strategies leading to competition, and major decision-making abilities to take the company to a new level. While making critical changes, the next generation successors are also expected to align with the vision and values of the business and take forward the legacy of their predecessors. Indeed a daunting task for many, but definitely not for those who are well prepared for the challenges.
Empowered with characteristics such as disruptive thinking, risk-taking abilities and strong will to stand by pathbreaking decisions, David Xu, Vice Manager, Foreign Trade Department, Highlead is the confident successor of Highlead, China. The management is confident that David’s succession to the coveted position will be a game changer for the company. David will succeed the current Manager of Foreign Trade Department of Highlead, Xueqin Xu in January next year. His responsibilities include supervising the overseas market which are primarily India, South Africa, and the USA.
The strength of Highlead is in heavy duty and special machines, the name being synonymous with leather and car upholstery industry. Though China used to be the biggest market for the company, in recent times, the momentum has slowed down as the country has become less competitive due to continuously rising labour costs, affecting Highlead’s business. Now the company is focusing on other countries where these industries are growing, India being one of them.
Yet, the situation in India has not been as positive as expected and hence Highlead is planning various options to increase the presence in the country. “We plan to expand the product range since heavy duty is not a very widespread market in India, and secondly because the market here has very versatile needs that we are not currently addressing,” said David thoughtfully.
This is easier said than done as garment sewing machines have not been the company’s forte. With its manufacturing facilities located in Shanghai itself, the company admits that expensive labour is the sole reason for not manufacturing basic single needle lockstitch machines, overlock and interlock sewing machines. “Our cost of making such basic machines is much higher than those offering similar machines manufactured in remote locations where labour is still relatively cheap,” reasoned David.
Yet, the strategy will have to change, as the company recognizes that along with the machine manufacturers, the apparel manufacturing industry has also faced the brunt of China’s increasing labour costs and has shifted its base to countries like India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Indonesia. As the next think tank of the company, David knows clearly that to get a bigger share in existing markets, many bold decisions will have to be taken under his leadership. The company’s next step would therefore be to set up an office in Bangladesh to get a better hold of the market and provide good responsive aftersales service to their customers. “It’s difficult to find a good dealer in Bangladesh, but we are determined to go ahead,” shares David.
In the wake of increasing labour cost at most manufacturing destinations, automation is the only solution. Doing manual operations requires high level of skill and consumes more time. Whereas, automation not only consumes lesser time but enhances quality too. “Automation has eased the work of operators enabling them to set programs with one tap on the machine. Smart heavy sewing is the future of technology,” says Xueqin with his years of experience working for the global market.
At the recently concluded CISMA, the company displayed its GC24698 machines which are a series of long arm high post-bed extra heavy duty, compound feed lockstitch sewing machines. The maximum sewing speed of these machines is 1600 RPM. This series is specially designed for stitching large and extra heavy articles like boots, hand bags, hats, bags etc. The relevance of the machine is heightened by the fact that many garment exporters in Asia are looking at new sewn products to enhance their growth opportunities.