Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Old Office Space

The remodeling of factory building #3 is nearly complete.   Soon we will vacate Factory Building #1 and move into our new space.  Here’s a quite tour of the old office space.

Heading up the stairs to the second floor.  “You are welcome again to Schumacher Elevator!”   ... and it ain’t Schumacher USA!  Bright red is the favorite color in China.  Bright blue is next, and all trim is gold or silver when possible.

Service, Purchasing and Marketing offices.

My office is all the way down the hall on the left.  The factory manager is at the end.

Halfway down the hall is the infamous bathroom with the squatty potty.

Entrance to my office.

So far I don’t have a lot of technical journals in my bookcase.  Check out the air conditioner.  It “conditions” the air in the summer and the winter.  Typical in China.

Conference room for my office.

Lunch time.  Around here they say “Tcher Fahn”, which means “Have lunch.”  I don’t know how to spell it in Chinese, but this is how to pronounce it.  Lunch time is a social time, but for me there is no talking because no one speaks English!  It’s still important for me to eat with them and be part of the group.  The Service Manager (gold glasses) knows about three English words.  The Engineering Manager (black glasses) knows about 1,000 English words, but he’s still pretty difficult to understand, because he hasn’t spoken English for ten years.

The ladies lunch table.  Sometimes I eat with them because I work closely with two of them, but I feel weird eating at the women’s table.  The young lady with the purple sweater speaks a little English, for which I am very grateful.  The rest just smile!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Let's Get That Cleaned UP!

Here’s some of the unsightly junk I saw laying around between two of our factory buildings today.  I just had to stop and take a picture.  This will be my BEFORE picture.  Part of my agenda is to make this place look nicer without spending a lot of money.  I am reminded of the old saying, “Rules without relationships leads to rebellion.”  So….I am working on building relationships first. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Looking Forward to Coming Home

As the holiday season approaches, so does my flight date.  On November 22 I return to the states.  I’m looking forward to seeing my family and re-connecting.  Here are a few of the photos that keep me going.  I keep them in a favorites folder for frequent viewing.  I wonder if Bella is taking care of local business for me.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Taking a Hike

Today was Sunday.  We were hoping they would give us the day off, and we were fortunate that they did.  I had made plans with one of the gals in the marketing department to go visit a nearby "mountain" with her boyfriend.  It looked like a fun place to explore, and I needed to take a break from working two jobs.  I still have quite a bit of work to do to finish a project for a client in Ames, but I decided to take a break and build some relationships at the same time.  It was a wonderful day.

Main walkway up the “mountain”.  This is Miss Dong and her boyfriend Mr. Su.  Dong works in the marketing department at Schumacher Elevator and Su is a mechanical engineer at a nearby Toyota plant.  A street vendor is selling fruit and drinks.

Hiking up to a scenic overlook.

View of Jingjang Town, a small village within Zhangjiagang City.

Costume shop in the park.  You can dress up and get your picture taken.  I can help but notice the hat the lady is is wearing.

Her kid was happy to pose for a picture.  I guess we were 20 years ahead of our time, Kathy.  I wonder if she makes them and sells them.  I couldn’t speak her language, so I didn’t ask! 

Fishing for goldfish at a pond halfway to the top.  We had to go back because Dong got called in to work!  That kept this blog to only seven photos.  Lucky you! 



Thursday, October 20, 2011

Starting my day out right

My devotional corner.  The most important part of my day - intimacy with my Lord.

The morning sun rising over the city and the swimming pool construction outside my hotel room window.  This is the song I have been singing and praying in my Quiet Time lately.  It seems especially timely today, because there are things that are heavy on my heart.

Give ear to my words, O Lord,
   consider my meditation.
Hearken unto the voice of my cry,
  my King and my God,
   for unto Thee will I pray.
My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning.
O Lord, in the morning will I direct my
   prayer unto Thee, and will look up.

                                 Psalm 5:1-3

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Walk To Work

Well,  I walked to work today.  It was a nice day, and besides, I left my bike at work and HAD to walk.  It is Saturday here, but everyone works on Saturday.  I feel less obligated to be at the factory at the crack of dawn, so I worked out of my home office for a few hours and then headed to the factory in time to teach my English class at 11:00.  I call it “Lunch and Learn” in my conference room.  I have 6-8 eager students every day.  So…here’s scenery from my hotel to the factory.  It takes about ten minutes on my bike and about twenty on foot.

Most highly traveled roads in the cities have a narrow road on both sides for motor scooters and pedestrians. 

This is the north entrance to the industrial park that I used to go through to get to the factory,  but they closed off the back gate to my factory inside the park, so I need to walk around the park now to the Schumacher factory front gate.  Everything around here has a guard at the entrance.  Even my hotel and other large office buildings.  

Typical transportation around here.  Most motor scooters are electric.  They have really small wheels and you can turn them off and ride them like a bicycle.  Many people turn them off as they approach their apartment building and then just pedal the rest of the way.   Since they are battery operated, the pedals also give them a way to keep going if their battery dies.  There are also lots of tricycle trucks carrying all kinds of things.  Mostly garbage, construction materials or children.

Road on west side of Industrial Park.  There are factories all the way down both sides of the road.

Approaching the Schumacher factory entrance.  A guard is always on duty.  Even at night.

Schumacher has three factory buildings. You can see two of them here.

This is coming straight in the gate.  We poured a new floor in the building on the left....

I guess there is actually four buildings.  I swing past the paint booth building on the  right to get to building number 1 where my office is.

View between buildings 1 and 2.  The offices are on the second floor of building 1.

Parking for department managers.  They can afford to own cars.

Parking for the scooters and bicycles.  This is where I park when I bike to work.

This is the entrance for the second floor offices.  This first floor is rented out to someone else.  We have the entire second floor for Purchasing, Accounting, Marketing, Engineering, Plant Manager, Assistant Plant Manager, and, of course, the Vice President for Business Development (me).  This is also the building with the Squatty Potty.  When we move into the new offfices being built in Building 3, there will be a pedestal toilet.  On the drawing plans, that small bathroom is labeled "Paul".  (thanks guys)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Communication Challenges

Well, today was a pretty good example of the challenges I face in communicating with the Chinese.  Today, after work, I headed straight to the hotel restaurant for supper before retiring to my room for the night.  The waitress smiles politely, as always, and brings me two menus, the regular menu for Chinese guests, and the American menu for foreigners like me.  You can actually order a hotdog off the menu, but I tried that once, and their idea of a hotdog is not MY idea of a hot dog.  It is a nasty tasting pork sausage link.  So…I place a very safe order….a fruit salad, which I had  before, and knew was delicious, and some sort of beefsteak in gravy that I didn’t think I could go too far wrong with.  Well, the beefsteak was not too bad.  It was very thin hamburger in a gravy sauce.  The salad never came, so I called the waitress over to ask her about it.  She seemed very confused that I would order TWO meals.  No…I just wanted the fruit salad with my meal.   This is what she brought me.  Sure looks like a vegetable salad to me.  I don’t know how she could go wrong since I pointed directly to the item on the menu, and “fruit salad” was written in Chinese right next to the English.  Later, I ordered another Sprite.  A different waitress took care of me, and she had no idea what I was asking for, so I changed it to a Coke, which is a well-known drink around here.  She seemed to totally understand.  Then she brought back this weird-tasting ice tea.  Oh well.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Eastern Hospitality

The staff at Schumacher China have been very hospitable.  This week I was invited to eat with the Engineering Manager’s family.  He has a lovely wife and beautiful 8-year old daughter.  His mother is staying with them for a month.  They own a very modest two story condo, which is more like an apartment.  Very sparse furniture.  The couch is wooden with no cushion.  I ate with them twice this week.  As is the custom, they filled the table with food, all the while apologizing for not having much to serve me.  The kitchen was ¼ the size of mine, and the living room was also the garage for their motor scooter!  I took turns with their daughter playing the electronic piano.

The master bedroom is also the study and the music room.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bottoms Up!

My son-in-law Nick SyWassink e-mailed a company colleague living in Shanghai to see if he had any suggestions for how I might cope in a different culture.  Well, I found a way!  Fortunately, I read some books like Living and Doing Business in China, and so I was prepared for the never-ending toasts and the occasional “bottoms up” challenge from your guest.  The trick is to keep SOME wine in your glass so that the waitress won’t refill it, but have so little in your glass that when your guest comes over for a toast and says “bottoms up” that you don’t offend him by saying no.  Don’t show this picture to my mom!

Sales manager gets up and comes around to me for a toast.

Bottoms Up! 

Well, THAT was fire in the mouth!  (try to look pleasant, Paul)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Vacation in Suzhou

This week is the second biggest Chinese holiday of the year.  Some companies give their employees the whole week off.  I took this opportunity to go see Vern Gidley in Suzhou, a town of 8 million that is an hour south of me.  Vern owns a rubber factory in Waverly and has started a factory in Suzhou.  He is also good friends with Marv Schumacher, president of Schumacher Elevator.  He invited me to spend a few days with him before he heads back to the U.S.  We are having a wonderful time working and playing together.

Lunch at Subway.  My first real American meal in a month.

You can tell these girls know Vern.  He frequents the place every weekend.

The beautifully lit modern shopping malls of Suzhou.  The lights are reflecting off the canal, and the wet sidewalks.  It was rainy lightly and about 60 degrees yesterday.

Typical evening hanging out with Vern – either having a bible study, checking the sports scores, or working on a project for a client.  It’s the first few days of real relaxation since I came to China on September 5.