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I spent time with Ron Jakeman, group managing director of Electrolube, while at productronica China in Shanghai very recently. In addition to solving customer’s problems and finding solutions, Electrolube has been busy preparing for the launch of two new products to complement the European range, which will have significance in thermal management.
Pete Starkey: Ron, it’s great to see you again. The last time we met was in England, and here we are in China. What’s the general state of business in China from your point of view?
Ron Jakeman: We’ve actually found it’s continued to be good in our particular sector. We’ve heard all the stories and there’s a lot of factories empty down in the Shenzhen-Guangzhou area. I think there’s a lot more automation going on, and I think it’s really a people problem in our industry, an employment problem, rather than actually a downturn in business. There really is a lot of automation creeping in as they’re joining the Western world in terms of production. Business is still strong for us and as a result of that, we’ve expanded our technical team and our R&D team significantly. We’ve doubled it in size and we’ve invested quite a lot of resources in it, which means we’re able to more of the testing in-house and actually solve customers’ problems at our premises rather than theirs. Doing so obviously shortens the time for everybody.
Starkey: You’re still in the business of finding problems and sorting them?
Jakeman: We love problems, as you know, Pete. Problems are always opportunities aren’t they?
Starkey: It is great to have the opportunity and the resources to be close to your market rather than have to solve Chinese problems in your English labs; it’s good to be able to approach them directly.
Jakeman: To do it locally, yes. In terms of the time you have to solve problems, it would never work from anywhere else than here. The sort of response times that they’re looking for are just not achievable unless you’ve got people on the ground, and committed people as well, who are prepared to work outside of normal hours. The key to it as always, everywhere in the world, is people. We’re very pleased with the progress that they’ve made. We’re actually coming up to our thirteenth year here now, so it feels like more like home every year.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of SMT Magazine.