Meet Aspiring Entreprenuers and listen to their small business success story. In this episode: learn more about Weiguo Solutions.
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Alex: I'm Alex on sbtv.com. With me is Bill Richmond. Bill is the president and owner of a company called Spot Light. We’re coming to you from SEMA 2007 that’s Specialty Equipment and Market Association here on the floor of the Las Vegas convention center and folks I got to tell you we have and SBTV first here as far as I know. I have never interviewed anyone before who is a resident of Hong Kong, right Bill?
Bill: Yeah, we actually have headquarters in Hong Kong and worked out of China directly.
Alex: Okay, you were born and raised in Boise, Idaho start at the beginning tell me how this happens.
Bill: Originally, I’m doing engineering work for a company in the outdoor industry transferred over to China a few years ago to set up the manufacturing. It's time to come home decided to stay there and do our own thing, partnered up with a couple of nationals, Chinese nationals and a couple of Americans to our own designed development source of entry and training for people.
Alex: Okay, that’s design and development of this product, what is this Bill a flashlight for cars.
Bill: Correct, it's a 12L LAD light, it plugs in your car cigarette lighter.
Alex: Camera right there, there we go okay good deal.
Bill: 0.5 watts plugs in your car cigarette lighter and recharges. So, it's always ready, it's always in the same location. We’re able to make it out of a 60-61 aluminum and then dice it in a 12 different colors and then we’re able to do private labeling and logo in so we can put anybodies name Chevy Ford, Pep Boys whatever right on the logo for them.
Alex: All right.
Bill: Keep commercial items I guess.
Alex: Okay, so it's a matter of convenience this is an item of convenience right.
Alex: Charges in the—
Bill: Power plugged or the turbo sockets where the cigarette lighter would go.
Alex: Right, okay the cigarette lighter that is what I was looking for. So, you're at Sema to a what? Are you marketing to the big boys?
Bill: Were trying, were brand new this year. We actually won the runner up to the new product category for interior products this year, it's our first time at Sema and we’re sitting up our distribution channel looking for a ways to market it out to products whether it’s a distributor or a big three kind of company.
Alex: Okay, Bill your first time at Sema as the owner and the president of the Spot Light, have you ever been here before in any—?
Bill: No I haven't, actually it's my first time.
Alex: What's your impression?
Bill: It's a great show, it's big, a lot of people and a lot of miles of aisles.
Alex: I don’t know where to begin here whether to talk about the success you had marketing this thing or the whole China thing just intriguing. How long have you been living in Hong Kong?
Bill: I’ve been over in China for two years now.
Bill: So, it's been a quite bit of time coming back and forth but the more time we spend over in Asia, the better we’re able to work with factories directly and get product to customers.
Alex: Right because that’s a matter of producing a product there.
Bill: Absolutely. Simplifying the supply chain is the key, get to the slowest price and the best quality and being westerners over in China were able to fill in the little gaps for design details and product specification. They don’t always get documented.
Alex: Right because then and often times on sbtv.com, we do stories on American entrepreneurs living in the state who are trying to do business overseas and have to deal with overseas customs, overseas laws your immersed in them because you're living there.
Alex: Have it made a difference.
Bill: Absolutely it takes a lot of time and lot of patience so, the key things to remember when you're working in Asia, patience and a sense of humor.
Alex: Why is that?
Bill: Just the things are different, it's a democratic system so you have to make sure you dial out all the details and it takes practice and review and a dedication to it. We have a team that is familiar with all that, so we can handle all the supply chain and logistics from the factory clerk to the distributor or the retailer, you know.
Alex: Why the decision—to actually to physically move yourself to China and not just try to stay here and do it from the states or what have you learn, or maybe hire manager to go to China or whatever?
Bill: I would like to be hands on and I would like to be involved with the product itself. It's also a lot lower cost of living over there, so we’re able to take out all of our overhead, share our office floor with our factory and cover our homes and living quarter’s right there at the same spot.
Alex: Okay, share that you say share our office floor, who is we?
Bill: I'm sorry we’re team of four partners.
Alex: Oh, yeah.
Bill: Two westerners from America and then one Chinese national working together.
Bill: So we have a designer, developer which is myself with an engineering background, a supply chain manager and a trading logistics—
Alex: Okay, what about the Chinese national how important was that in this situation?
Bill: She is Kee, Linda is a wonderful translator and has lived in Germany for a few years as well as obviously in China most of her life and has the experience trading internationally.
Alex: Okay, so she translates for you obviously in the kind of languages used that you have.
Alex: You and other Americans living there, does she also translate for you customs, laws, bureaucracy, things of that nature?
Bill: Yeah, she is very familiar with all the trading rules and all the codes for shipping through customs and duties both in the US and in the European community.
Bill: We’re set up for global distribution now.
Alex: Bill, what about Sema 2007, it's your first time ever here.
Alex: Your first experience with Sema, you’ve been here on what, a day and a half or some now couple days, what your experience has been?
Bill: It's been overwhelming, we've got really great reviews from the customers walking through the aisles, seen our product being spot lighted in the showcase and—it's been wonderful for traffic, there is so many people coming through. We brought a few hundred samples to give out and let people see and go through those in the first days so we had to get more that’s really positive and we’re really excited to see how the show wraps up over the next few days.
Alex: Now, you won an award you're telling me.
Bill: We did, we received runner up for our new product interior for 2008 here at Sema.
Alex: New products breakfast the other morning?
Bill: Yup exactly on a Tuesday morning.
Alex: Runner up for new product interior.
Alex: Okay, all right well that’s recognition there.
Bill: Yeah, it's wonderful.
Alex: So, what happens with something like that, I mean how is something like that help you. Any idea how you will be able to partly that into more business?
Bill: Definitely take that as a start up to our PR campaign for 2008 and showing that we do have a good product that’s been well received by the public.
Bill: And it has been recognized by you know industry professionals that respect the product in what were doing.
Alex: And you have made contacts with officials from major automotive manufacturers here?
Bill: Absolutely, automotive manufacturers put in also after market products even entire suppliers over in the wheel division are interested in doing a private label through our product and then put it in their cars as safety kit or safety item. Said people are ready for when they get a flat tire.
Alex: Although they are literally hundreds of thousands of people here who are in the situation like you except they live in 2,000 different locations around this country. What is their reaction to you when you tell them that you have moved and moved your company to China?
Bill: They realized I'm usually the first pick for basketball but they have appreciated having the lesson over there that they can communicate with and respect that I think.
Alex: You think that that gives you an advantage do you think?
Bill: Absolutely, absolutely there is a lot of respect, most of the people we worked with here in the US and then also that factories we spend time with in China on the ground there able to work with them and teach them a little bit more about western business practices and the expectations that we have from a western community.
Alex: Would you tell me about where some of your profits go somewhere?
Bill: Yeah, 1% of our profits from the spot light are donated to mothers against drunk driving, everybody including myself have been affected by mother—by drunk drivers and I was able to help that out so we want to support our community in doing that.
Alex: Are these spot lights, are this available retail anywhere?
Bill: Actually we’re setting up our distribution chain right now so people who are interested they're able to look us up, up in the internet or come over to our booth, 13236 and I will set them up with product.
Alex: For those people who were not here at Sema 2007 what is your website?
Bill: Weiguo Solutions and Weiguo is actually a Chinese name from my partner, myself and my original when we started of the company that mean “Shake the nation”.
Bill: Over there to stir things up a little bit and commands a lot of respect from the Chinese nationals because they're excited to see that a westerner understand their culture and is willing to work with their community and figure out what they need to have to work out lowest costing and lowest pricing.
Alex: Okay, shake the nation and shake the industry.
Alex: Go for it go, shine your flashlight that camera right there. There we go, that is Bill Richmond, he is the owner/president of the Spot Light and located in Hong Kong. That’s the first time I have ever had to say that on SBTV, Bill thank you very much.