Feature: Local community finds grounds to rejoice as China's excavator maker SANY poised to expand in U.S.

Source: Xinhua| 2019-04-06 20:01:17|Editor: mingmei
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by Xinhua writers Yang Chenglin, Zhou Xiaozheng, Yang Shilong

PEACHTREE CITY, the United States, April 6 (Xinhua) -- China's construction equipment maker SANY has a global reach. Fair distances between its manufacturing bases notwithstanding, "everybody is just a phone call away."

Doug Friesen, CEO of the Peachtree City-based SANY America in the U.S. state of Georgia, finds it "pretty impressive" as he has never worked for a company like this. He could even reach the Hunan Province-based SANY Group's Chairman Liang Wengen within ten minutes, although the two sites are geographically over 13,000 km apart.

Where Friesen acquires props, SANY takes up responsibilities. Its U.S. subsidiary, starting as a sales and service organization in 2006, has nudged its way through a competitive market.

In five years, SANY America aims at advancing towards a 1-billion-U.S.-dollar company from an 80-million one, Friesen said. A move of late is to start building its brand excavators "completely from scratch" at the Peachtree City plant in June.

For local communities especially, benefits accrue as the manufacturer's expansion bolsters the economy.


During her first visit to SANY America, Jennifer Brigman found it beautiful. "It is an awesome global company to work for," the company's director of product management and marketing said.

Grass borders the path to SANY America, whose manufacturing space covers 340,000 square feet (31,587 square meters) and office space takes up 60,000 square feet (5,574 square meters). In autumn, the trees are ablaze with the colors of the season.

SANY creates jobs and "the work, the product and people brought me here," said Tom Cooper, a 63-year-old startup manager who began his work on the assembly line in 2018.

For its manufacturing team alone, SANY America plans to expand from 25 posts to approximately 300 ones within five years, said Friesen.

"When you look around, everybody here is basically American," said the CEO.

A veteran with 20 years of experience in the auto industry and another 20 years in heavy construction equipment manufacturing, Friesen took the helm at SANY America in 2017, saying it "particularly had a very fast learning curve" on localization.

Now taking charge of around 80 employees, Friesen pushes ahead SANY's localization, including bringing in more U.S. workers and transforming its iconic durable excavators to be "Made in U.S.A."

Whenever in need, Friesen could feel "tremendous support from China," since he is "empowered to make decisions" and "doesn't have to go back and ask."

SANY America saw its first hydraulic excavator roll off the production line in 2012 and now it has the capacity to produce more than 2,000 excavator units per year.

"Thanks to SANY America, now we have more job opportunities," said Robert Garcia, a father of four and team leader of the excavator assembly line. He has introduced two of his close friends to join SANY.

For workers on the factory floor, support from Chinese colleagues too abounds. "Sometimes when we run into trouble, we need their help, their expertise," Garcia said. He went to China to undergo training last year. It was great and he "loved it," he said.

"I love working here," said Garcia. "I will recommend other people to work here."


"Our job is to make sure that we're not just known, but we're also wanted," said Brigman. "It takes time."

Brigman has more than 20 years of experience in the construction industry. She said SANY America has to confront rivals that have been in the U.S. market for dozens of or even a hundred years, and any major change of the landscape just "doesn't happen overnight."

Whereas SANY America occupies only 1 percent of the market share for now, it is very confident in its future success, aiming to boost the figure to 5 and then 7 percent.

"We're very positive about the product, it's very durable," Cooper said about SANY's machines, adding that SANY America offers "probably the best warranty on the market for a machine."

"China, for years and years and years, has built all the premium products for the world," said Friesen. "They know how to build good products."

Therefore, "our job is to teach the American public that they (Chinese) know how to build premium products," he added.

Brigman has been to China, and she "was even more impressed with the manufacturing facility and our colleagues and the openness."

"Because we have the quality products, because we have an excellent team and because we have the right people moving forward, I believe we're going to make a great success," said Brigman.

Today, SANY has built 25 manufacturing bases, and over 100 offices with more than 400 agents and 8,000 suppliers worldwide, according to its website. SANY America's business covers the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America.

Citing such examples as Japanese enterprises that have built up reputations in the United States after years of striving, Friesen believes that SANY America will get there and achieve recognition.

"I've lived in this environment during those times, and that happened," said Friesen. "I don't see any reason for it not to happen with us."

(Xinhua reporters in New York Zou Sa'ang and Wang Ying also contributed to the story.)