Editor's Note: This column originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of The PCB Magazine.
In past columns I have written about the economic war with China and the trap we have set for ourselves. But the battle isn't just for low-cost products being produced and shipped back to America, but also for access to the very large and fast-growing domestic market in China. As suppliers to PCB fabricators and assemblers worked to gain market share in China, they faced many challenges, including cultural issues, infrastructure, employees, language, kickbacks, corruption, and others. The most common approach to overcoming these challenges was to ink a deal with a large distributor. One well-known distributor is WKK Distribution (WKKD).
WKKD is part of Wong's Kong King Group (WKK), which has been serving the global market for nearly 35 years. WKKD distributes many products to the PCB fabrication and assembly markets from suppliers around the world. Products include consumables and equipment. If you have ever visited the WKKD booth at an industry trade show in China, you understand the company’s depth of coverage. One thing that has changed, due to market demands in recent years, is WKKD’s approach to the distribution market. Not only is the company representing and selling the equipment of its principals, but WKKD is now manufacturing several lines for its principals as well.
One issue debated over the years is the ability of the Chinese to produce high-quality equipment. Hamed El-Abd, president of WKKD, will be the first to explain that they—the Chinese—can, and WKKD now offers several lines to prove that fact. That being said, we all know the high-quality standard the Japanese demand, and to now see some of Yamaha’s equipment being produced by WKK Donguang Manufacturing certainly speaks to the capabilities of the Chinese and WKK.
The other side of Chinese manufacturing so often called into question is working conditions. During a recent visit I sat down for an in-depth interview about China with Hamed, and when I broached this issue he invited me to tour his company’s factory in Guangdong. With all of the ongoing news coverage of working conditions at other EMS companies in that region, I decided to go have a look at what was going on at WKK.