Soon we got on the train and sped up to Shanghai. Despite quite pricy tickets, it was almost full with only several seats left. Together with Professor Silicon, we got in the middle of the coach excited to be in a new place far away from here. Professor has been to Shanghai many times before and had many friends there. He was looking forward to finally meeting Lee there and learning what happened.
Our train was so fast that in a short time we already passed Tianjin. However, inside the train, everything was so quiet and peaceful. It was hard to believe that we were going at almost 350 km/h.
I decided to go through my notes on my phone to see what companies we were supposed to visit in Shanghai and nearby suburbs. It was a pity that we had to postpone our visit to a couple of interesting power electronics companies in Tianjin and Nanjing. They both worked in the field of welding equipment and were using various welding diodes. Since we still had 3 more hours till we arrive in Shanghai, I sent several emails to rearrange our meetings with those companies for the future. I also notified our potential customers in Shanghai that we were on our way to meet them soon.
We had two visits scheduled right before we meet Professor’s friends later that day. However, I was a bit worried about our luggage. I was feeling quite uncomfortable going to these huge potential customers in my travel clothes. Professor assured me not to worry. He said that his Beijing friends should have arranged a hotel booking for us. The Shanghai Waterfall Hotel was very close to the railway station and we had time to stop by there to check-in.
I didn’t even notice how we reached our final destination. The railway station in Shanghai was very crowded, and it was definitely hotter outside compared to Beijing. As Lextor Anderson told me on the train, our hotel was indeed only five minutes walking distance from the station. When we entered the hotel, Professor said something in Chinese, and in a couple of minutes, we were accompanied to our rooms.
To my big surprise, in the room, I saw my luggage left the same way I left it in the hotel in Beijing. Somehow it managed to beat us to Shanghai. I decided to leave this mystery till we had some free time to chat with Professor. As usual, the room was very spacious and bright. I took a quick shower and got dressed ready to meet Shanghai’s leading power electronics companies.
In five minutes, we met with Professor in the lobby. We looked like ‘men in black’ ready to save the planet from some evil powers or another ‘armageddon’. A taxi was already waiting for us. We hurried to the first company located in the northern part of Shanghai. The company was the second-largest manufacturer of soft starters in China with the widest portfolio from low to high power equipment.
We arrived ten minutes before the meeting. The factory was the size of a football stadium, and together with offices and other facilities, it occupied the territory twice bigger. We were warm welcome to the site, and soon we met the big bosses of the company surrounded by engineers, purchasing, and sales guys. They were at least fifteen people altogether, and this crowd made me feel uncomfortable like we were hostages or something like that.
But after the traditional formal greetings, everyone seemed to become more friendly and relaxed. Only a few of the representatives of the Gold Soft Starter company spoke English, so for the most part of the meeting it was Professor who led negotiations in Chinese, and I helped him with necessary information he missed.
As it turned out, at the moment, the company was purchasing capsule phase control thyristors 300-800A/6500V. They had two suppliers and were looking for a new one. Their annual demand was over 100 000 thyristors, which was enough to load TSemics production for several months ahead.
Besides they had a new project where TSemics could become the first supplier. We agreed to provide them samples in two weeks to prepare a test soft starter and run it in the field. After all, despite my first impression, all of the Gold Soft Starter company employees were very friendly and interested in cooperation.
In an hour or so, we had a factory tour to see with our own eyes the beauty of the automated production. There were only a few people responsible for monitoring the production process. The rest was done by the industrial robotic systems. It was incredible to witness how fast and precise they worked. Looking at all this I was not so sure anymore that Terminator was only an imaginary scenario of our future written by some guy in Hollywood.
Soon we left the company and headed south to visit the biggest in China manufacturer of welding equipment – WeldStar Industries. It took us almost an hour to reach what looked like an airport or a military base. I was surprised by the size of Gold Soft Starter, but WeldStar Industries was like an Earth compared to its Gold Soft Starter Moon. The company had its own railway tracks leading from its storage facilities to the city. They had their own runway and air fleet to deliver their equipment fast across the globe.
Again, we were met by at least a dozen of people and were accompanied to the meeting room full of pictures of some honorable Chinese men. The walls of the room were full of various pictures of customers and suppliers, government leaders, etc. All in this meeting room were saying that this was a very big and important company.
The company manufactured welding equipment, AC controllers, AC transformers, inverters, and welding guns. According to the company’s representatives, they already used welding diodes produced by TSemics competitors, and they met all their requirements. Not long ago they started testing procedures of some local brand, but so far, they did not like the results meaning that there was space for TSemics to try to fit in.
During the following factory tour, I noticed that they were also using IGBT modules for their inverters line. This could also be a good starting point for cooperation. Besides the inverters, I noticed that a production engineer passed something to Professor. And since we were accompanied only by two English-speaking application engineers, no one seemed to notice this except for me. Professor looked like nothing happened.
Our meeting ended with big promises of successful cooperation starting with the first sample order coming next week. I was happy that both our meetings went well and we already had good results. New companies could bring an additional two million USD to TSemics sales. Great result for the first business negotiations in my life.
Now we were free to go back to the hotel and then meet Professor’s friends. On our way back to the hotel Professor Silicon told me that the message he received from that production engineer was from Lee. He wrote to meet him in the evening in the Oriental Pearl Park. Professor was pretty much sure that it was not Lee who sent us that message. So now we had a new plan. Professor told me that he would ask his friends to dress like us and go to the meeting, while we would be watching them from one of the nearby skyscrapers.
Back in the hotel Professor had a phone call with his friends to arrange our meeting with Lee. To avoid any followers, we decided to blend with the crowd and use the Shanghai subway to reach the Huangpu River. Despite the millions of people using the Shanghai subway every day, I was surprised to see how clean it was. Another thing that I really liked was that people were waiting for the train in certain areas in line instead of entering the train as a chaotic mass of people.
Soon we were climbing the stairs to leave the underground area. When we finally reached the top it was already dark outside with many people going back and forward, talking, laughing, smoking, smiling, eating, selling, and buying. There were thousands of them in the street. And many of them were heading to the Huangpu River bank. And now I could understand why.
When we reached the bank, we could see tremendous skyscrapers on the other side of the Huangpu River. And the true pearl of all of them was the Oriental Pearl Tower.
The Oriental Pearl Tower is a TV tower in Shanghai. It is located at the tip of Lujiazui in the Pudong New Area by the side of Huangpu River, opposite The Bund. Its construction began in 1991 and was completed in 1994. At 468 meters high, it was the tallest structure in China from 1994 to 2007, when it was surpassed by the Shanghai World Financial Center. The tower is brightly lit in different LED sequences at night. The tower features 11 spheres, big and small. The two largest spheres, along the length of the tower, have diameters of 50 meters for the lower and 45 meters for the upper. They are linked by three columns, each 9 meters in diameter.
Professor Silicon told me that before we go to the other side to see who was waiting for us there, there still was one thing left he wanted to show. I followed him.