Made in Taiwan: Family Business Make It Big with Innovation and Precision

Chien  0:05  
Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Spark Your Vision where we invite business leaders from various industries to share with us their experience, as well as their insights on trending topics that's currently shaping the business world. So before we begin, let me introduce the team. My name is Chien, and I will be the host for today along with two very, very talented co-hosts, Alice and Sean. Please say hi to everyone.

Alice  0:34  
Hi, everyone. I'm Alice.

Sean  0:36  
Hi, everyone. I'm Sean.

Chien  0:38  
Well. So without further ado, let me introduce our guests, our special special guest today, Shelley Liu, the general manager of Gifu enterprise, Gifu enterprise is a leading automatic tool changer manufacturer that was founded in 1979. And along with his strong R&D team, the company provides excellent performance on both modular and high-end products. And so Shelly, thanks for coming on the show today.

Shelly  1:08  

Chien  1:09  
Hello, hello.

Shelly  1:11  
I'm Shelly. Thank you for your kind introduction.

Chien  1:13  
No, no, no. Yeah, that's our job. So, Shelly, please introduce yourself and maybe a brief elevator pitch, you know, to introduce your company as well, Gifu.

Shelly  1:24  
Hello, I'm Shelly Liu. I'm from Gifu enterprise and we produce mailing head and automatic tool changer. And thank you for having me today.

Chien  1:33  
No, thank you for joining us, I understand you just take the train up from Taiwan, right visit here in Taipei. Thank you. Thank you. Okay. Well, you know, thank you for the introduction. And so usually I think, you know, I like to start the podcast on a softer note, so we don't get right directly to the business. Right. I understand your background. I mean, very similar. You do your studies in, out in the States, right? In Oregon?

Shelly  2:00  
Yes. Oregon.

Chien  2:01  

Shelly  2:01  
Go ducks!

Chien  2:02  
Go ducks. Yes, yes, yes. I was not in Oregon, but I was in California. So I guess we're close enough. It's quite interesting, because I understand, you know, before you went through this succession plan, obviously, you actually experience various departments in the company, you know, to, to sort of diversify your experience and how did that help in the succession process of the, your current general management position? And how do you think it will help transform Gifu in the future?

Shelly  2:36  
Okay, so 80% of Gifu products are all customized. So employees are our key asset, going through all the different departments, I have in particle experience, and also have a chance to build up a closer relationship with our employees. And that gives me a chance to able to hear their true voice. So nowadays, we focus on encouraging the voice of employees in order to have a true impact on the decision making. So that everyone has to take the responsibility for it. And I think that's my goal to transfer Gifu in the future.

Chien  3:11  
Okay, well, I'm gonna throw another personal question. I mean, you know, especially with a family business, I'm just very curious of your work-life balance, right. As with many of the family businesses, multiple family members are also working in the company. So how do you cope with them at work, as well as maybe, you know, some of them, you still also see them at home, right?

Shelly  3:34  
So communication is the main point for me and my brother, or even for my parents, even though we have clear defined job duties and responsibility, but when the huge decision need to be made, we will set up a meeting with our leadership team to open up the discussion. So before making a final decision, we will gather all the ideas and not just focus on both of us, and this is a good way to avoid the conflict.

Chien  3:59  
Okay. Okay. And do you get to see them at home? Or, you know, you see them at work, obviously, your brother, right, but you get to see him at home?

Shelly  4:08  
We actually live in different parts. That's another way.

Chien  4:11  
Perfect. So so this way, you guys won't have to run into each other. Yeah, that's good. That's good. Well, so I mean, as we all know, I mean, the pandemic has been with us or you know, this past three years. And a lot of the traditional face-to-face the business engagement was limited. And however, for the company itself, I mean, how do you continue to maintain that strong business relationship with your existing customers? And furthermore, you know, continue to hold that leadership in you know, in the market position.

Shelly  4:48  
So during this past three years, when employees are often not in office, it forced us to move forward faster on improving our internal communication system like ERP systems, it helps us to easily share the working information instantly and stay connected to each other. And also let employees to engage in work. And to keep up with our customers, we start to use more social media like official Line account, WhatsApp, and Facebook, to reach out and let our customer to keep up with us with the latest news and product.

Chien  5:23  
Okay, so a lot of the information even though, you know, you can't meet them face-to-face, but was shared through social media.

Shelly  5:32  
Yeah, it's post online.

Chien  5:34  
Okay, good, good, good, good, good. As we all know, I mean, ESG is one of the hot trending topics nowadays in the business world. And, you know, usually when we get into this section, we like to also share with our audience, some trends and some statistics, and then also, of course, get your insights on the topic itself. So let me have Alice share some interesting info.

Alice  5:59  
Yeah. Okay. So in 2021, BNP Paribas did a survey. And it revealed that about like 51% of the investor found the S, social part of ESG, to be the most difficult to analyze, and embedded in their investment strategies. So because of the lack of standardization of the social matrix, as we know, one of the key components of ESG is social. And it looks like Gifu, who has already been very active in the charitable event with. And it seems like you guys are aiming to held at least 15 relatable events annually. So internally, how does it affect Gifu, as a company? And externally, how does it impact society in general?

Shelly  6:56  
So every Christmas, we gather together as a volunteer to invite the disadvantaged groups around our county to celebrate the holiday. And most of them are disabled kids that come from dysfunctional family who don't really have a chance to feel a holiday vibe. So our employees will volunteer to plan the event, and even to dress up as a Santa to cheer the kids up and having musical party together in our company.

Chien  7:23  
Wow. So you tried to bring that you know, the holiday spirit to them to the kids and let them sort of feel the Christmas Spirit? That's good. That's good.

Shelly  7:34  
Yes, Next time you can come. I will send you an invitation.

Chien  7:37  
No, definitely. And then maybe, maybe I can, you know, act and become that Santa Claus.

Shelly  7:42  
This time, we actually have Lucinda and dinosaur. Oh, you can pick your character.

Chien  7:48  
That's a good combination. Well, how come dinosaur? I mean, you know, Santa, you know, should be a reindeer. But why is it dinosaur?

Shelly  7:53  
Reindeer is hard to you know, pretend. Dinosaur was much easier.

Chien  7:58  
True. True. True. Okay, so in that case, I think I'd probably be more fitting with the dinosaur instead of the Santa Claus,

Shelly  8:05  
I will prepare the reindeer for you next year.

Chien  8:08  
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Okay.

Sean  8:12  
Bloomberg estimates that ESG assets may hit $53 trillion by 2025. Customers nowadays are increasingly demanding that manufacturers, distributors, energy companies and other organizations enhance sustainability while also improving product quality and speed of delivery. According to one survey, 87% of consumers say companies and brands have a responsibility to protect the planet and its people. From an environment perspective, how does the Gifu plan to contribute to the global carbon footprint reduction.

Shelly  8:59  
So regarding to ESG, we are planning to satisfy the requirements, ISO 14064, which is a part of international standard for Environment Management. Moreover, we set the recycle policy to follow up in every step of our production process, and hope one day to contribute the environment, too.

Chien  9:20  
So 2023 is a special year obviously we've gone through the three years of pandemic and we're now entering the new normal I think, hopefully and what would be some of the key priorities for Gifu foo as we move into this new normal.

Shelly  9:38  
So this year, our sales start to fly out to visit our customer in Germany, USA and we are actually planning to visit our chat with bug lake a customers after Chinese New Year because there is one ongoing case need to be closed soon. And while we think that face-to-face communication will process faster, and also have a better idea for us to get what customers really need. Okay. And moreover, we start to attending the exhibition to meet up the potential customer like AMO in September.

Chien  10:11  
Okay. So it's really getting back to live normal as we knew it before to the pandemic, right, you know, now you're arranging trips out there to at least show your face to the customers, let them know that you're there to support them. And then furthermore, utilizing, you know, trade show exhibition, not only the one that TIMTODS, but also globally as well. So those are all good ways to sort of bring back that relationship again, I think.

Shelly  10:38  
Yeah, correct. Because some of our sales are actually new, who just come from last year. And our customers have never seen them before.

Chien  10:47  
Okay. So this is also a good FaceTime with them. Right. Okay. Yeah, get to sort of introduced the new colleagues and once again, started building that relationship.

Shelly  10:56  
Yep. Correct.

Chien  10:56  
That's good. That's good. In terms of Gifu, I mean, unlike many other companies that typically expands to China, you guys obviously resisted the temptation from the very get-go and dedicated in rooting yourself here in Taiwan. What okay, what was that thought process, you know, when you had to make that decision? And then what benefits or maybe even disadvantages have you seen because of this? Yep.

Shelly  11:25  
We believe root in Taiwan can better control our quality of product by keeping our supply chain close, but also reduce the risk of material credit crisis. So moreover, with our employees together, we can focus on talent training, and achieve the concept of continuous innovation by working as a team together. Okay.

Chien  11:47  
So, yeah, that's tough. I mean, because like I said, I think a lot of the companies when they are, yes, very tempted, right, you know, at the beginning to move their development and production to across the street, you know, to China, but you guys was able to, you know, maintain, you know, maintain steady here in Taiwan, and furthermore, continue to invest in Taiwan. Yeah. And then, you know, once again, I think you guys, aside from doing the production, but you guys focus a lot on the R&D, as well. I understand I read somewhere that you guys have over what 35 or 30, in-house R&D professionals, and probably it's still continuing to grow. And over the years have won numerous, numerous awards, as well as patents. And so considering right now, I think you guys do hold a somewhat of a dominant leadership position, obviously, in the market in specially in North America, Europe and China. I mean, how do you continue to motivate your team, right to strive to continue to be the best and also make Gifu, the leader in technology and innovation? Yeah

Shelly  12:55  
We have a reward system to encourage your every member to make proposal including any ideas of innovation, progress or improvement on party structure. So through the system, and every employee can brainstorm and learning from each other's ideas. In addition, we will also participate in different competitions such as Taiwan Excellent Award, Machine Tool Research Award and National Industrial Innovation Award. Through this competition, we can learn the trade of technology, and also inspire our team to keep going on a new idea.

Chien  13:32  
That's great. I mean, you guys not only encouraged them, but you set up a very, very well-rounded reward system to sort of give back to them as well. Right. So I think it's a it's definitely a win-win situation, you know, so not only do we innovate as a company, but also from a person or team members perspective, they're also growing along this process. And furthermore, they get rewarded as well. Yeah, that's perfect. That's perfect. So with TIMTOS, just around the corner. It's it's in March, so you know, not far from now, please give us a sneak peek of Gifu's highlight at you know, showcases at the event this year. Anything interesting in terms of the product or technology?

Shelly  14:18  
We actually present our two newest progress. One is intelligent device chain type tool changer that just won 2020 Taiwan Excellent Award.

Chien  14:28  

Shelly  14:29  
Well, actually the silver award.

Chien  14:30  
Oh, silver. Wow. Nice. Nice.

Shelly  14:33  
I should put that in important Mark.

Chien  14:35  
Yeah, it's silver.

Shelly  14:38  
And another one is new design, mewling head product that also award by Taiwan Excellence Award last year.

Chien  14:44  
Okay. That's good. I mean, so, aside from the recognition from customers, obviously, it's also recognize among your peers in the industry, right to be something that's very innovative as well as technically driven. So as I mean, the event organizer, obviously, they're expecting hopefully a big crowd from, you know, the foreign buyers to global buyers, you know, coming to visit, you're in Taiwan, right, because we have been sort of with the quarantine policy for the past three years. And so 2023 is going to be a special year, we're opening up and we're inviting once again and inviting our old friends, good friends to come visit us again, not only at the TIMTOS event, but also here in Taipei, right. . Is there anything that you know, maybe do a shout-out? Or maybe, you know, welcome them, you know, to your booth, you know, also do mention your booth number so that they know where it can they can see some of these award winning products that you guys are introducing.

Shelly  15:42  
Okay, so Gifu invite you to visit our booth at R0114. I should make that an important note.

Chien  15:50  
Yes, yes, yes, definitely.

Shelly  15:52  
And check out our newest design product of tool changer and mailing head at Taipei TIMTOS, no matter if regarding sales, technical advice, or application consoling our representative already at the booth. Looking forward to serve you in each point.

Chien  16:08  
Awesome. Awesome. I mean, before we end today's show, I always like to survey my guests, you know, in terms of what do you guys live by, according to you know, your life models and philosophies and so forth. You know, I'm a very philosophical person. So I like to sort of engage in those types of types of discussion. And I remember, for you, I think your life motto is "My life, my choice and my way," right? So, this, you know, when I first saw this quote, it really reminded me of, you know, a song by Bruce Springsteen, <It's my life.> And but now, you know, anyway, that's beside the point. But now that you're the general manager, right, and what's hopefully maybe one of these days down the road in 20 years, the legacy or maybe something that you can leave behind, even maybe for the third generation.

Shelly  16:56  
Okay, so just like I mentioned before, our employees are our main asset, and some of our employees even watch me grow up. Okay. So even though I am in general manager position right now, I still like to work with my employee as a team to cherish our effort and willing to hear their voice and then share the experience together. So therefore, I hope we can grow together as a big family. And that they can feel comfortable to work with me and easy to talk to. And I think this is my way, my choice to manage my team.

Chien  17:31  
Awesome. Awesome. Yeah, no, I think just based on your you know, the sharing, I think you really do treat your don't want to want to say employees, I mean, these people that sort of grew up, you know, seeing you grow up and you know, working as a team, and it does feel like you, yes, like a big family. Right. It's a big family. And then furthermore, that decision process is not just going through it by you or your brother or your family. But it's it. Yeah, it's a group decision.

Shelly  17:58  
Yeah, it's a group decision.

Chien  17:59  
So I think that's wonderful, I think. And then plus, furthermore, you guys have the reward system are in place to make sure that they're continually using their creativity, using their knowledge to build the best product that's out there. Right for your customers for the company itself. Yeah, correct. That's good. That's good. That's awesome. Well, so once again, Shelly, and, you know, thanks for your time. And thanks for coming on the show today. It's always good to, you know, have you know, to get engaged in this have a conversation with a second generation. But like I said, you know, there's always a third generation, right. So, I mean, is there anything you can, you know, recommend for third generation, you know, what would you recommend the process that you went through? Or maybe maybe something that you know, a little bit different for the next generation?

Shelly  18:39  
Okay, so one day in the future, I will recommend our the third generation leader that don't be afraid to make mistake. Yeah. And those are their true experience to learn from and don't be afraid to speak up. I learned a lot from sharing with the idea with others.

Chien  18:55  
Okay. Okay. So, don't, you know, don't afraid to make mistakes. I mean, of course, you know, mistakes are sort of, there's a sayig in Chinese. Right. So, the making mistakes is sort of like the, the foundation to actually success.

Shelly  19:09  
Yeah, that's right.

Chien  19:10  
So I think, you know, the mistakes itself is just a process. But ultimately, the goal is to hopefully achieve that, that goal. Okay. Anyway, thanks for coming on the show. And you know, that's all for today. I mean, thanks for listening and make sure to subscribe to the podcast channel for more trending insights from business leaders across the world and do leave your comments as well as feedback and if you do like our show, make sure to give us a five-star rating and as always, you can follow us on LinkedIn as well as Facebook for the latest episodes as well as the special podcast teasers that we have. Anyway, see you all again. And make sure to visit Gifu booth during TIMTOS and check out the award winning products that we'll be showcasing. So don't miss out Thank you very much.

Shelly  20:00  
Thank you.

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