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Putting the "Factory" in FOX Factory With Graham Sills

Makers of Our Future podcast artwork
 

Graham Sills is the Vice President of Business Development in Asia Pacific at FOX Factory, a global leader in high performance suspension systems for ATVs, mountain bikes, motocross, and off-road vehicles. Prior to working with FOX, he oversaw Supplier Development for KOR Industrial Design and was an Account Manager for IC Star Industrial Co, LTD. 

 

 

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Graham Sills’ career path and how he expanded FOX Factory’s manufacturing services 
  • The role of Taiwan in the global high performance bicycle supply chain
  • The importance of clear communication and cultural awareness when operating in a different country
  • Graham’s strategies for building and maintaining a robust culture
  • Taiwan’s leading role in the automated manufacturing industry
 

In this episode…

Is it possible to create a global brand presence that outperforms the competition? What are some solutions you can execute to build an innovative brand culture? 

Graham Sills was entrusted with FOX Factory’s premiere brand as the company transitioned the manufacturing of their mountain bike suspension components from the US to Taiwan. He understood the efficacy of intentionally modifying corporate culture to align with a new host country. To accomplish this, Graham set clear expectations, established direct and open communication, and prioritized supply chain development. He encourages other professionals to analyze their designated culture for optimal success. 

In this episode of Makers of Our Future, Bill Sharratt sits down with Graham Sills, Vice President of Business Development in Asia Pacific at FOX Factory, to discuss building a high-performance bicycle brand. Graham speaks to the benefits of building a factory from the ground up, the importance of adapting to the local culture to drive the best outcomes, and how Taiwan is uniquely positioned as the manufacturing engine supporting the cutting-edge product innovation for FOX Racing Shox’s brand.

 

Resources mentioned in this episode:

 

Sponsor for this episode:

This show is brought to you by Darcoid

The seal industry is changing and not always for the better. It's consolidating, knowledge is retiring out faster than it's being replaced, and design engineers specifying seals can struggle to get the support they need.

Darcoid is doing something about that.  

We're building this podcast as a searchable store of wisdom, so you, our audience, can continue to stand on the shoulders of giants.    

Learn more at www.darcoid.com.

 

Episode Transcript:

Intro  0:03  
Behind every great product is a great seal. Join us at the crossroads of preeminence, product design, engineering, seal mastery, and supply chain excellence, and to learn from the makers of our future.

Bill Sharratt  0:24  
Hello, and welcome to another episode of Makers of Our Future. My name is Bill Sharratt. I'm super glad you're with us today. Bit of a different show today. What's happening in the world? So I'm sitting in California and the sun is going down in the evening, that guest is probably drinking his first or second cup of coffee of the morning and Taiwan. It's a bit of a second cup. Yeah, excellent. Right. So where we are in the world, we got the Tour de France happening, we got millions of people tuning in to watch the world's best athletes, pushing the limits on the world's most technically advanced bicycles, right? Huge industry of the bicycle industry that rode bikes stiff the segment in that today, we're going to look at that industry, we're going to touch on breaking down the pie and seeing how it's made up. We're going to really focus on the central role of Taiwan in getting that bike that you got your eyes on to the store, so you can buy it. My guest, who is caffeinated rapidly is probably someone with occupies a key niche in one of those niches in that in that bicycle industry. And his perspective is probably unparalleled. So without further ado, I've done talking, Graham, introduce yourself.

Graham Sills  1:50  
That's a very gracious introduction. Thank you, Bill. My name is Graham Sills. I'm currently Vice President, Business Development for Asia Pacific for FOX, FOX Factory Inc. As mentioned, I'm located in Taiwan. I should maybe just go into a bit of a go through some of my background right now.

Bill Sharratt  2:18  
Sure. Yeah, absolutely. What's your story? What's your path?

Graham Sills  2:21  
So maybe not not your typical path, I guess. So I came to Taiwan, in 1999, as a 19 year old, with about 500 bucks in my pocket, and a return ticket home. So during university, you know, those are, that was after my second year of university. And I'd spent my university traveling between Canada and Taiwan. So I'd spent half my year in Taiwan working and it's been half my year in Canada studying, it was a good way to get through university to break it up that way, and you get a little bit of time to think about what you want to learn about next. And so, you know, in about 2006, I guess I had started working for a Taiwanese company doing aluminum forging and CNC machining. And really, the, the, I mean, I didn't know much about industry. Prior to that, really what helped me, there was language skills, being able to I'm fluent in Mandarin, Chinese against greed, right, type, all that stuff. And so that actually gave me access to industry. And so, you know, I was working, doing developing overseas customers, and, you know, working on manufacturing processes, and when all of those words need to flow through your mouth, it's a really good way to get to know. No, right? You really have to internalize and understand. From there, I'd moved on to doing some supplier development work. A couple of different companies. One of them being FOX, actually, that's where I first started off with FOX was doing supplier development work. Here in Taiwan, you know, sort of the same thing that I was doing prior except really, on a bigger scale, because now you're developing process across a bunch of different suppliers and from from the other side of the table, you know, it's the same thing but the other side of the table. And then, you know, in 2011, at that time, FOX was ready to take the next steps in transitioning, bike manufacturing, you know, there's some investment that came in to FOX prior to that. This is prior to us going public. And what we'd wanted to do at the time was to stablish manufacturing in Taiwan to be closer to our, our delivery points closer to our customer, a lot of the high end bike industry is, you know, delivered, it's built in Taiwan, if not Taiwan, often Europe these days, but definitely Taiwan is, is central, I mean, a lot of our deliveries go to bike builders in Taiwan. So I took on the general manager role. Starting with employee number one, right here. And, you know, the target was to transition bike manufacturing from the US to Taiwan to be closer to main customers, as I mentioned. So that means, you know, standing up the factory, implementing our systems, hiring the management team, all the technical people, and then you know, of course, facilitating all of the supporting functions as well. You have finance it HR, you know, health and safety, you need links, it is the full gamut, right. And so, you know, something that actually started off as an initiative for us to shorten our lead times. Everything seems a little bit simple upfront, until you get into all the details. And, and, you know, there's a lot of additional benefits that came out of it. I mean, we really improved our quality. When we had shifted from the US to Taiwan, I think. And I thought about this a lot since, and I think that one of the reasons why we were able to improve our quality at that time. I mean, we have a phenomenal team, right? I mean, that FOX, phenomenal team, a really great group of people that are really dedicated, and really care about Ryder and care about our process and our products. And so when you give that kind of group of people a chance with a clean sheet of paper, to say, okay, you know, now, you know, here's a budget, and here's, you know, another chance to do it all over again. Because if you go into an old factory, you go through that game of like the five lines, right? Well, why is this here? Okay, well, then why did that happen? And why did that happen? And, and so you kind of, you know, zero everything out. So you've got the challenges of building it, ground up, but then you've also got the advantages of your past lessons learned. And you're kind of unencumbered by all of this history, in a sense, right. And so, you know, with that group of people in that effort, it was, I'm proud to this day to say that was a five year plan. And we achieved complete transition of all of our bicycle manufacturing, within those five years, our quality got better, our customers were happier. We actually gained a lot of spec during that time as well. I think, you know, there's more than just because of the manufacturing piece, I mean, our products, there's big shout out to the product team there that I think that we had a lot of really great innovations during that time. But, you know, we also dispelled any concerns that the bike assembler had about, you know, we can talk about that in a minute about kind of the, the array, how the bike industry works, you know, you have a brand. And then you have the bike assembler. And it's the brand that makes the Inspect decision, but it's the bike assembler that is in the bike brands gear saying, Well, you don't want to spec those guys, deliveries long, right? No, you put us on the hook with a whole bunch of capital outlay. You know, these are real discussions that happen. And so by being here and going through this journey, then we also were able to dispel any concerns from from a supply chain perspective.

Bill Sharratt  8:54  
So you had a you had a huge responsibility that weighed on your shoulder because basically you're responsible for moving the brand, you're kind of in charge of matric making sure the brand does well with the move, for the strategic reasons you need to make the move. So that's a huge responsibility. And no, you nailed it. Our relationship goes back to a couple of years maybe into that process and Darcoid we're at the product development side, helping you know engineers say they need their shark to perform under these conditions were like the serious and you need the sale to sale sale and we find we find the best solution. But from the list just from the logistics perspective, getting product close to point of views, we we shifted our focus from essentially Watsonville California to clay junk. And

Graham Sills  9:54  
that's right, you actually went through the same transition, you know, to support us as well. All right now it's

Bill Sharratt  10:02  
it's been it's been quite the ride but let's let's walk it back to perspective on the bike industry. And before the show, we were talking about that and I looked at it, I'm looking at it as a big pie. I mean, it's you got your your pro level components, and whole bicycles that are sometimes bespoke manufacturing and assembly operations, then you've got the prosumer, the the the serious enthusiast who wants the pro level performance, then you've got more of the the commuter, they need a rugged, reliable performer, maybe a utility bicycle down to recreational guys and gals out occasionally on their bikes, and and then family bikes, all different price points, FOXes at that high performance can appropriate professional level, and the prosumer level, right. And making those components at price points that can get wider adoption. So I think I looked at the bike industry, Google, how big is the bike industry 60 billion, 90 billion, maybe 180 billion by 2030. It's a huge industry and it's growing,

Graham Sills  11:20  
right? Well, and it depends on which way you cut it and what counts as a bike these days. You know, there's, it's really, you know, it is difficult. And there's, you know, a handful of people that spend a lot of time really figuring out what that is to make sure that the industry is getting served in the right way. But it's not like the automotive industry where you have, you know, these big organizations that are bodies that can, you know, be an authority on the market and provide, you know, market insights going way up the future and all of that stuff. I mean, the the bike business is, it's almost like a smaller version of that, like you said, it is big, it's very niche, its niche in many ways. And so that's what I mean by it's difficult to even sometimes try to ride a bike these days,

Bill Sharratt  12:15  
right? We put an electric motor on it, and almost all kinds of things change, right? Sure.

Graham Sills  12:19  
Well, and you know, and maybe just to put the, you know, maybe to stay on that point for a moment. And for some of the folks watching this, that maybe are curious more about how, you know, kind of the back end of the industry works. Maybe I could just sort of talk about that for a moment. Yeah, yeah. So you have, you know, you have your start with the brands at the market. And that's really where most people kind of know the industry, you have your, your, your big brands, your high end premium brands, some of them also will operate in more of a consumer market, as well, you can think of it is a pyramid. And so, you know, the top then you have, I mean, our customers you have, I don't want to list all of them, because I don't want to forget any of them. And we pretty much and we have a lot of you know, the high end, high end, bike business, and then all the way down to the consumer level. So that's really where a lot of people kind of starting point. Now, some brands do their own assembly. A lot of brands work with a with an assembler. Right. And so you have these assembly companies that might be building for a few different brands as well. And they might even have their own brand and be building for for, you know, OEM business for another

Bill Sharratt  13:52  
because they got big economies of scale assembly business, and they'll build as many value channels through it as possible.

Graham Sills  13:58  
Yeah. Precisely. And, and you know, and also, some of it kind of comes into play with how things used to work versus how things work today, right. I mean, in the past, a lot of the industry was really based on on relationships, I'd say that today is more based on capability. And, you know, relationships are still a big part of it, but it's, it's a different business today than it used to be. And we can maybe talk about that a bit. So, you know, you have your bike assemblers, and then you have your component suppliers. And then you have your when you look at component suppliers, you have your sort of branded component suppliers and your non branded component suppliers. And so, you know, some of the non branded components suppliers might supply private label, right so there's a lot of house brands and some components on bicycles. You know, it's a sort of illustrate what I'm talking about. It's like, if you go out and buy a car today, you know, you you buy a Ford or a Toyota or a BMW Whatever kind of car you're gonna buy, you don't you kind of see one brand, when you look at that car, right? If you buy a Ford, you kind of buying a Ford, maybe you have a Bose stereo in it or something like that, right? But there's not a whole lot of like, of illustrating branding, some brand, thank you. Whereas if you look at the bike industry, you look at a bike and you've got 20 or 30 brands. And, you know, the more high end it is, it's almost like the more brands you have, right? And it's interesting, because there's not really a parallel for that anywhere else, not one that I can think of, you know, where you have an end product that's branded by multiple suppliers.

Bill Sharratt  15:42  
But then then product is almost infinitely configurable, right, with those different brands and specs.

Graham Sills  15:52  
Yeah, that's right. So in this in the component, suppliers, you have your branded and your unbranded, kind of that's an oversimplification, but we'll use that for now. And then, you know, inside this branded component supplier space, you have these international companies that have some sort of presence, you cannot compete in the industry without having some sort of presence in, you know, whether that's a sales office or warehousing, or distribution, or manufacturing, such as parks. And so So then, you know, when we think about well, actually, before we go on to that, maybe I'll just talk about I touched on it earlier, is the, you know, there's sort of like what, how things used to look. So, you know, you have this, this, this ecosystem of these companies that work together to manufacture a bike that eventually gets into a sales channel and lands on, you know, customers corruption. In the past, I would say that a lot of that relied on trading companies, and you know, what Taiwan used to be like, like, when I first landed in Taiwan in 1999, it was a much different place. You know, at that time, I would say that there is a lot less of a level of English just as a starting point, right. Which means access to market. And, you know, there's a lot less people who are educated overseas and stuff like that, where it's like, that's quite prevalent today. Right. And so back then it used to be that, you know, let's say, an overseas customer would come to Taiwan, the Trading Company, would then take this person or these people out for dinner, you would have, you know, a banquet hall, basically like this, each table has been up into these places, was 10 seats, you have 510 tables, that's 50 or 100 people, right, and they would invite the entire supply chain, and, you know, it'd be the trading company would then have people would come up, cheers, you know, and he would introduce, oh, this is the guy that makes, you know, component XYZ on on this. And, you know, he's really, you know, really happy to have you here, blah, blah, blah. Right. And it's, um, I think that that served a function for a long period of time. And I'd say that the bike industry then was was, was very relationship based. You know, depending on who you talk to, you could make an argument to say it still is, right? I would just say that, in terms of degree, I would say it's maybe a little bit less like that today. Right? Because it's it's modernized. Taiwan itself is a very cosmopolitan place. It's an island, it soaks up ideas from all over the place. That's what it relies on for survival. And so now, you know, fast forward to today, you have a lot. I mean, there's a lot of just wealth here, right? I mean, yeah. And there's a lot of capital intensive industries, that sort of just a Taiwanese place just to, you know, leverage capital, and, you know, creating a niche inside of an industry. And and so, you're moving from

Bill Sharratt  19:18  
good ol boy networks and relationships to you can't serve a rapidly scaling, publicly traded company culture that way. So obviously, you've got it. You've got to do more of the business controls and supply chain development and so on, rather than hoping you're going to meet the right people and put the deal together, right.

Graham Sills  19:47  
Sure. Sure. You need to you know, you touched on a good point. You mentioned about culture. I mean, you know, there's, there's a famous quote by Peter Drucker culture eats strategy. For breakfast. I mean, the quality of the company will determine how effective your strategy will be. Right. And, you know, it used to be more of a relationship based culture, there's still an element of that, but it moves forward into the future. And so, you know, when you're establishing an overseas branch, like kind of to back up to what I was doing with, you know, implementing the FOX strategy in Taiwan, you need to get really intentional about how that looks. Right.

Bill Sharratt  20:39  
You know, how did you how did you do it? You did it. You went from Greenfield? Literally, right? How much of the structure architecture of putting a factory together? Was yours? Or were you taking full input from others? I mean, your fingerprints are all over what's happened for for boxing?

Graham Sills  21:03  
I mean, it's a hybrid, right? I mean, I'm fortunate that we came from, you know, FOX itself has always had a really strong passionate culture. From, you know, our beginnings in the US, right? I mean, we're a more global company. Today, we used to be an American company operating in Taiwan, I now feel like we're a much more global company. And so, you know, the? So it's good question. So, I would say that there's a few key things to really bringing that culture across, because it's not a one to one, right? If you just take the existing culture, now you drop it into because you've got these different cultures, in company culture, and now you've got the external sort of, you know, society or. And so, if you were just to take it one to one without really filtering any of that, meaning, you might run into a situation of like, you know, tissue rejection, so to speak. Right? I mean, you can't just transplant without adapting to the host culture. Right. And so I think I'll trade strategy strategy. Yes, sure. Now, you want to keep the base meaning, but you want it to be, you know, absorbable, by the host, right? So I think it should, like you do need to be tailored to the place to the need to the organization. I think that that's, that's really important. I mean, an example of that is, you know, communication in, in Chinese. Right? Now, there's different degrees across different, you know, cultures, let's say, lowercase c cultures across the world, that have, how contextual that language is, right? If you take German, it's very direct, right? I mean, they take pride in there, in how directly, right? You know, and then you get, you go down the scale, and you kind of pass English and kind of Western cultures. And now you get into, you know, into a Chinese environment. I'm not an expert on all these things. But let's say, you know, Chinese language communication is a lot more contextual, right. And so as an example, for that, like you might have, let's say, somebody comes into your office, you know, like, somebody's a star, star employee, right? And they say to you, they say, Hey, you know, I really want to take care of my family, I really need to make sure that, you know, my kids are growing up, and they have a lot of needs, and I really want to take care of them. Now, if you're just taking that at face value, you might think, oh, geez, you know, I think they need more time with their family. That doesn't kind of sounds like it at face value. What they're really saying to you is they want to raise? Yes. So, I mean, I think that the the contextual part of it, because it's it is less direct, right? I mean, it's not across all things. And, you know, not to take it to the absolute extreme. Of course, there's there's the ability to communicate directly, but I just mean that for important things. They're going to,

Bill Sharratt  24:17  
let's say that kind of site sideways into the conversation.

Graham Sills  24:21  
Exactly. Right. Yes. Otters a little bit. That's really culturally that's that's how communication happens here. So I do think that, you know, along with that, I mean, thinking about, you know, the place the need the organization. You also in the intentionality behind it, you also really need to think about what kind of message you're conveying, right? You're going to plant your flag, you're going to say to the world that you're in about where you're going, and you need to be again, intentional about that. So when we came here, I mean, we went to, you know, a premiere Business Park precision park and I jumped. And that's a really good because when we came here, nobody knew us. Right? I would say today. I mean, you know, I've run into people, you know, as a Honda motorcycle dealership with a friend of mine. He goes, Oh, I know FOX now. I mean, you know, road. I mean, that kind of bite does not spec FOX, but he knows FOX, he knows us, actually, to our local employer brand. Right. So, you know, conveying to the world about what we're about? I guess I digress a little bit, but you know, it should you got to get the culture, right,

Bill Sharratt  25:37  
because my goodness, labor shortages and constraints have been rampant. You've got to be already in a good place to be right.

Graham Sills  25:47  
Sure. In the labor market, it's a seller's market. Right. I mean, you want to you have to be appealing to, to labor. And, you know, I think that the danger if you don't intentionally define your culture, is that it snaps back to what is the worst acceptable behavior that the organization will tolerate? That becomes Oh, that's our culture. Right. And actually, could I let me try it? Could I share a screen? I have a photo? Yeah. Great. Good. So let me see.

Bill Sharratt  26:30  
See, multiple, okay. During the zoom thing, you should have permission.

Graham Sills  26:37  
Sorry, I hope this works. I don't I don't I say a lot. So oh, here we go. Here we go. Okay, can you see that image?

Bill Sharratt  26:49  
Got it? Yeah.

Graham Sills  26:50  
So at the top, let me just kind of walk through what I'm talking about. And this is like, this is, this illustrates my point is that, you know, and this is actually somebody in Taiwan that posted this. And he said, you know, here's, here's Japan, and you notice that everything's orderly people are walking, like riding bikes, you've got this parasol over here. You know, everything's kind of orderly. And this is sort of like a Taiwanese complaint. Right? And then you've got here, Taiwan. And this sign here says, No parking, and pedestrian. And, you know, absolutely no parking is basically what it says. And you've got parking up and down here, right. So, you know, I guess this is, this is what I mean is that if you don't intentionally say and plant a flag and say, This is what our culture is, this is what we stand for. Because culture is a set of values, then it just sort of snaps back to the worst acceptable behavior. Yeah, I

Bill Sharratt  27:53  
was talking to a previous guest, Craig Rusli. And his his nugget that was passed down to him that stood him in good stead it was the behavior you accept is the behavior you will get? I think that's very much in line, right. Yeah. Yeah,

Graham Sills  28:12  
that's exactly. So clear expectations all the way. So, you know, I guess like, you know, I mentioned about, like, you know, the person who comes into your office saying they want to take care of their family. I think that the flip side to that, and this is where, like, the delicate balance comes into play, is that people do want to work for international companies. Right. I think that locally here. It's like, of course, there's some really strong Taiwanese companies, you know, I mean, like, look at TSMC. I mean, that's like, yes, yeah. Now, you know, TSMC is still at the top prepared, but then you've got these international companies, let's say, right. And so while it's sure, I mean, the employer needs to adapt a bit to the environment. I mean, you should also plant your flag somewhere that's a little bit aspirational for the employee as well. Right. And I think that's sort of like the flip side to that contextual communication. Now at FOX, we have we have a convenient place to start, which is like, you know, through cycling, right, because it's a really good platform to build culture on top. I mean, it's not a culture in itself, right. It's an leisure activity, it's, you know, it's health and wellness, all of these great things, but it's a place that you can start to establish culture on top of and even you know, we put together some writing activities here for for key staff where we would have like, you know, we get these like Sprinter vans with like big comfy seats, three of them eight people to ban towing bikes behind and we go to destinations and it turns Seems like a ski trip kind of feel, right? I mean, that's it's a good way to introduce and meet people where they are, right? Because now, after having two or three days of riding, you kind of okay, well, I can do this right, and it gives you a certain amount of confidence. And then that gives you a platform to just start to build culture on top of. And it's not even something we could do right away. But it was something that we were able to get to once we got into its you got to spin all the get all the plates spinning team building

Bill Sharratt  30:29  
with the brand woven right into it. It's, it's it's kind of a compelling way to bring people into the organization. Yeah,

Graham Sills  30:37  
sure. Sure. And we I mean, that's one example. Right. And that's somewhere that we had sort of natural advantage or like a head start on being able to, you know, but But it goes to my point of like, you know, it should be customizable, it should be intentional. And you know, you don't have to have a bike brand, to, to convey what's important, and your values of your organization. And you can do that any number of things. Right, I guess I'm just talking about strategies that were successful. For us. In our particular situation,

Bill Sharratt  31:07  
where you managed some explosive growth as as the manufacturing was transitioned to Tai Chung. On my visits, I was always amazed at how many more people were on the production floors, how you were managing the velocity of training, new hires, to assure quality, no interruption in output quality. And then to the culture. I was honored to be invited to company events when I was if I was in town, I'd be invited. I thank you for that. But it was clear from the ways those company events were managed as respect. There's clear communication, there's no, there's no cloudiness at all. It's all very clear. And and the egalitarian field that I was really quite impressed with. So it's a real neat culture that you're you're stewarding the grant,

Graham Sills  32:11  
for sure. Well, thank you. I mean, you know, we've now, you know, as we've continued to develop, you know, your company, you know, something we say internally is, we're not, we're never done, right, we're not finished yet. And so, you know, actually just kind of going back to my personal timeline, I mean, like, you know, we'd handed off the, let's say, stewardship of the factory, rather than I'm no longer running the factory years ago. But, you know, culture sticks, right? I mean, like, and I can see it to this day. I mean, there's, there's, once it's really, because it becomes your value system, right. And I can see that still evident in all of our manufacturing locations today. Because, you know, I mean, kudos to the team, they've still managed to continue to expand, and we have some more locations now, and a lot more people now. But that culture has really maintained, and I again, kudos to the team for keeping that as an intentional part of culture, you know, and, and keeping, it's about the diligence that goes into it. Right.

Bill Sharratt  33:27  
So tell me, what, what's the future for the high end bike industry? The kind of bikes that components are built in Taiwan, that assembled in Taiwan? Is that always going to be in Taiwan? It's such a huge center of gravity for the supply base, and everything that goes with it. Do you see that 510 years from now still being the same as the million dollar

Graham Sills  33:55  
question, right. I mean, there's, you know, you see these these new manufacturing clusters springing up, you know, like Portugal and different parts of Europe. There's also, you know, there's a lot of geopolitical factors that go into that as well, if you look at like, you know, Europe is always looking for more regulations, more certifications, and all of these things that just, you know, it's like, Sure, it's for the consumer, but it's really, it also happens to help the European industry, right, the local market. Yeah. And then, you know, you see some wildness that had happened in the past with, you know, tariffs and stuff like that. So, which kind of just shows you that anything can happen. Right. And, you know, predicting that is a bit of a fool's game, but I guess that doesn't mean that we shouldn't engage in it anyways. So, I mean, I would say that my prediction would be that Taiwan does continue to be a really important part of the pie. This whole sector, and I think for reasons that are, you know, the devils in the details, right? And once you start getting into what does it take to build up a bike? I think it's useful to look towards the history, right? Where it's like, there was a lot of like, we described that thing where it's very relationship based, and all of that kind of stuff. That's a culture in itself. And that doesn't go away. Right? Yes. So I think that, you know, it might transform in the way that it manifests itself. And you see a lot of that in like industry in China, right, or Southeast Asia, I mean, the something that Taiwanese have done very well, is to be flexible enough to outsource and, and leverage other economies and play with this, like they're very adept at, at navigating these geopolitical kinds of structures, let's say, and so, you know, automation is a big trend. There's people that fall on either side of that, right? There's some people who say, Oh, well, you know, look, you can never really remove people, and you're just gonna waste a bunch of money. And I was having this conversation yesterday. And then you have other people who are saying, Hey, if you don't automate you die. Right. And really, I think it's helpful when you talk about automation to think about, you know, how do you how do you elevate efficiency, right, you don't want to automate for the sense of, for the sake of automation, you really want to improve your efficiency. And so, I would say that, that's a place that Taiwan has always excelled that in the past, and will continue to excel in the future, regardless of of where we end up with bikes being made. I mean, you could end up with a lot of machinery that comes from Taiwan, there's Yes, yeah. You know, yeah, machine tools, machine makers, custom builders, integrators. It's a it's a niche that I think that Taiwan is really strong at. And so we could end up with, because of geopolitical reasons, or whatever other reasons, supply chain reasons, whatever it might be. We're bikes are built in different geographies. And I say built, because it's like, what does that really mean? You know, if you're building the machines, here, exporting it over there, where does that really built you know, I mean, getting a little bit caught concrete sense is being assembled in you know, different territory, but that could that would, that will have a lot of the manual history and knowledge that came from here going into, you know, the future of manufacturing in the like industry globally.

Bill Sharratt  37:45  
No, I I, I tend to agree, I think Taiwan's always, always going to be very much a part of high precision manufactured product or manufacturing equipment. Like you said, the capital is there, the the capitalism is very much there. And is is valued, I think, as part of the culture as well. So it's got a little it's got all the right ingredients for success for years to come. It's it's an amazing place. Anyone who hasn't been should go it's got a great vibe. It's one of the safest places to wander around when you're lost. It's

And we thank you for welcoming us to your home because you are certainly instrumental in helping us get set up and find some of the right partners to transition so that we could maintain inventory where you need it. That's I was struck when I reached out to you to say hey, do you want to be on a podcast? Your response is well, how can I help and personally Graham, that that's a great quality and I think it talks to who you are as a person so thank you, I'm gonna give you an opportunity to a shout out if you are talking to working at FOX why people should work at FOX and if you want to do a shout out in Mandarin for political hiring purposes feel free

Graham Sills  39:30  
Well, I'm not sure that the like as far as it is as far as the the Chinese language component being buried this late in the podcast I'm not sure if it's gonna be detected by anybody. But Google you'll hides it in the daytime whining juggler intern woman to be under what was a jam woman though when what to do when I saw dinner he told me out No one up like Jeru woman all the time. Did he? Did he cancel or mentor? Woman? Jensen either take a take a wooden one? So there's my plug in mantra.

Bill Sharratt  40:15  
Excellent. Excellent. So would you like people to be able to get in touch with you networking or getting to know you better?

Graham Sills  40:25  
I'm generally a pretty open person. So yeah, I mean, of course. I mean, and, you know, now that I think about it, I would, I would definitely put a link to this on my LinkedIn profile. Okay, so yeah, I mean, there's never somebody reaching out on LinkedIn, I always enjoy, you know, making contact with the people of other industries in the same industry or whatever.

Bill Sharratt  40:52  
Well, we'll be sure to, to feature your LinkedIn profile, LinkedIn profile on this podcast, and in the notes, and so on. So we'll be able to find you. Graham, we covered a lot of ground. I can't thank you enough. I know. I know how busy you are. So I really value the time you've spent with us. I do appreciate it. Is there anything that we missed or anything you'd like to add before we sign off?

Graham Sills  41:17  
No. And just it just thank you to you as well. I mean, thanks for reaching out to me. I'm really flattered by the invite. And it's been really enjoyable. And it always kind of helps to talk through some of these things now. It's been fun. So thanks a lot. Excellent. definitely is. Yeah, a pretty special place. Yes. Like you say, it's incredibly safe, incredibly friendly, welcoming. Yeah, it's, I mean, it's my home.

Bill Sharratt  41:33  
All right. Thank you, Graham. And thank you for watching. Looking forward to our next episode. Till then, goodbye.

Outro  41:43  
Thank you. Thanks for listening to the Makers of Our Future podcast. Behind every great product is a great seal. Learn more about how we can help@www.darcoid.com That's darcoid.com. The best seal on time zero defects. Darcoid.
Episode Transcript:
Intro  0:03  
Behind every great product is a great seal. Join us at the crossroads of preeminence, product design, engineering, seal mastery, and supply chain excellence, and to learn from the makers of our future.

Bill Sharratt  0:24  
Hello, and welcome to another episode of Makers of Our Future. My name is Bill Sharratt. I'm super glad you're with us today. Bit of a different show today. What's happening in the world? So I'm sitting in California and the sun is going down in the evening, that guest is probably drinking his first or second cup of coffee of the morning and Taiwan. It's a bit of a second cup. Yeah, excellent. Right. So where we are in the world, we got the Tour de France happening, we got millions of people tuning in to watch the world's best athletes, pushing the limits on the world's most technically advanced bicycles, right? Huge industry of the bicycle industry that rode bikes stiff the segment in that today, we're going to look at that industry, we're going to touch on breaking down the pie and seeing how it's made up. We're going to really focus on the central role of Taiwan in getting that bike that you got your eyes on to the store, so you can buy it. My guest, who is caffeinated rapidly is probably someone with occupies a key niche in one of those niches in that in that bicycle industry. And his perspective is probably unparalleled. So without further ado, I've done talking, Graham, introduce yourself.

Graham Sills  1:50  
That's a very gracious introduction. Thank you, Bill. My name is Graham Sills. I'm currently Vice President, Business Development for Asia Pacific for FOX, FOX Factory Inc. As mentioned, I'm located in Taiwan. I should maybe just go into a bit of a go through some of my background right now.

Bill Sharratt  2:18  
Sure. Yeah, absolutely. What's your story? What's your path?

Graham Sills  2:21  
So maybe not not your typical path, I guess. So I came to Taiwan, in 1999, as a 19 year old, with about 500 bucks in my pocket, and a return ticket home. So during university, you know, those are, that was after my second year of university. And I'd spent my university traveling between Canada and Taiwan. So I'd spent half my year in Taiwan working and it's been half my year in Canada studying, it was a good way to get through university to break it up that way, and you get a little bit of time to think about what you want to learn about next. And so, you know, in about 2006, I guess I had started working for a Taiwanese company doing aluminum forging and CNC machining. And really, the, the, I mean, I didn't know much about industry. Prior to that, really what helped me, there was language skills, being able to I'm fluent in Mandarin, Chinese against greed, right, type, all that stuff. And so that actually gave me access to industry. And so, you know, I was working, doing developing overseas customers, and, you know, working on manufacturing processes, and when all of those words need to flow through your mouth, it's a really good way to get to know. No, right? You really have to internalize and understand. From there, I'd moved on to doing some supplier development work. A couple of different companies. One of them being FOX, actually, that's where I first started off with FOX was doing supplier development work. Here in Taiwan, you know, sort of the same thing that I was doing prior except really, on a bigger scale, because now you're developing process across a bunch of different suppliers and from from the other side of the table, you know, it's the same thing but the other side of the table. And then, you know, in 2011, at that time, FOX was ready to take the next steps in transitioning, bike manufacturing, you know, there's some investment that came in to FOX prior to that. This is prior to us going public. And what we'd wanted to do at the time was to stablish manufacturing in Taiwan to be closer to our, our delivery points closer to our customer, a lot of the high end bike industry is, you know, delivered, it's built in Taiwan, if not Taiwan, often Europe these days, but definitely Taiwan is, is central, I mean, a lot of our deliveries go to bike builders in Taiwan. So I took on the general manager role. Starting with employee number one, right here. And, you know, the target was to transition bike manufacturing from the US to Taiwan to be closer to main customers, as I mentioned. So that means, you know, standing up the factory, implementing our systems, hiring the management team, all the technical people, and then you know, of course, facilitating all of the supporting functions as well. You have finance it HR, you know, health and safety, you need links, it is the full gamut, right. And so, you know, something that actually started off as an initiative for us to shorten our lead times. Everything seems a little bit simple upfront, until you get into all the details. And, and, you know, there's a lot of additional benefits that came out of it. I mean, we really improved our quality. When we had shifted from the US to Taiwan, I think. And I thought about this a lot since, and I think that one of the reasons why we were able to improve our quality at that time. I mean, we have a phenomenal team, right? I mean, that FOX, phenomenal team, a really great group of people that are really dedicated, and really care about Ryder and care about our process and our products. And so when you give that kind of group of people a chance with a clean sheet of paper, to say, okay, you know, now, you know, here's a budget, and here's, you know, another chance to do it all over again. Because if you go into an old factory, you go through that game of like the five lines, right? Well, why is this here? Okay, well, then why did that happen? And why did that happen? And, and so you kind of, you know, zero everything out. So you've got the challenges of building it, ground up, but then you've also got the advantages of your past lessons learned. And you're kind of unencumbered by all of this history, in a sense, right. And so, you know, with that group of people in that effort, it was, I'm proud to this day to say that was a five year plan. And we achieved complete transition of all of our bicycle manufacturing, within those five years, our quality got better, our customers were happier. We actually gained a lot of spec during that time as well. I think, you know, there's more than just because of the manufacturing piece, I mean, our products, there's big shout out to the product team there that I think that we had a lot of really great innovations during that time. But, you know, we also dispelled any concerns that the bike assembler had about, you know, we can talk about that in a minute about kind of the, the array, how the bike industry works, you know, you have a brand. And then you have the bike assembler. And it's the brand that makes the Inspect decision, but it's the bike assembler that is in the bike brands gear saying, Well, you don't want to spec those guys, deliveries long, right? No, you put us on the hook with a whole bunch of capital outlay. You know, these are real discussions that happen. And so by being here and going through this journey, then we also were able to dispel any concerns from from a supply chain perspective.

Bill Sharratt  8:54  
So you had a you had a huge responsibility that weighed on your shoulder because basically you're responsible for moving the brand, you're kind of in charge of matric making sure the brand does well with the move, for the strategic reasons you need to make the move. So that's a huge responsibility. And no, you nailed it. Our relationship goes back to a couple of years maybe into that process and Darcoid we're at the product development side, helping you know engineers say they need their shark to perform under these conditions were like the serious and you need the sale to sale sale and we find we find the best solution. But from the list just from the logistics perspective, getting product close to point of views, we we shifted our focus from essentially Watsonville California to clay junk. And

Graham Sills  9:54  
that's right, you actually went through the same transition, you know, to support us as well. All right now it's

Bill Sharratt  10:02  
it's been it's been quite the ride but let's let's walk it back to perspective on the bike industry. And before the show, we were talking about that and I looked at it, I'm looking at it as a big pie. I mean, it's you got your your pro level components, and whole bicycles that are sometimes bespoke manufacturing and assembly operations, then you've got the prosumer, the the the serious enthusiast who wants the pro level performance, then you've got more of the the commuter, they need a rugged, reliable performer, maybe a utility bicycle down to recreational guys and gals out occasionally on their bikes, and and then family bikes, all different price points, FOXes at that high performance can appropriate professional level, and the prosumer level, right. And making those components at price points that can get wider adoption. So I think I looked at the bike industry, Google, how big is the bike industry 60 billion, 90 billion, maybe 180 billion by 2030. It's a huge industry and it's growing,

Graham Sills  11:20  
right? Well, and it depends on which way you cut it and what counts as a bike these days. You know, there's, it's really, you know, it is difficult. And there's, you know, a handful of people that spend a lot of time really figuring out what that is to make sure that the industry is getting served in the right way. But it's not like the automotive industry where you have, you know, these big organizations that are bodies that can, you know, be an authority on the market and provide, you know, market insights going way up the future and all of that stuff. I mean, the the bike business is, it's almost like a smaller version of that, like you said, it is big, it's very niche, its niche in many ways. And so that's what I mean by it's difficult to even sometimes try to ride a bike these days,

Bill Sharratt  12:15  
right? We put an electric motor on it, and almost all kinds of things change, right? Sure.

Graham Sills  12:19  
Well, and you know, and maybe just to put the, you know, maybe to stay on that point for a moment. And for some of the folks watching this, that maybe are curious more about how, you know, kind of the back end of the industry works. Maybe I could just sort of talk about that for a moment. Yeah, yeah. So you have, you know, you have your start with the brands at the market. And that's really where most people kind of know the industry, you have your, your, your big brands, your high end premium brands, some of them also will operate in more of a consumer market, as well, you can think of it is a pyramid. And so, you know, the top then you have, I mean, our customers you have, I don't want to list all of them, because I don't want to forget any of them. And we pretty much and we have a lot of you know, the high end, high end, bike business, and then all the way down to the consumer level. So that's really where a lot of people kind of starting point. Now, some brands do their own assembly. A lot of brands work with a with an assembler. Right. And so you have these assembly companies that might be building for a few different brands as well. And they might even have their own brand and be building for for, you know, OEM business for another

Bill Sharratt  13:52  
because they got big economies of scale assembly business, and they'll build as many value channels through it as possible.

Graham Sills  13:58  
Yeah. Precisely. And, and you know, and also, some of it kind of comes into play with how things used to work versus how things work today, right. I mean, in the past, a lot of the industry was really based on on relationships, I'd say that today is more based on capability. And, you know, relationships are still a big part of it, but it's, it's a different business today than it used to be. And we can maybe talk about that a bit. So, you know, you have your bike assemblers, and then you have your component suppliers. And then you have your when you look at component suppliers, you have your sort of branded component suppliers and your non branded component suppliers. And so, you know, some of the non branded components suppliers might supply private label, right so there's a lot of house brands and some components on bicycles. You know, it's a sort of illustrate what I'm talking about. It's like, if you go out and buy a car today, you know, you you buy a Ford or a Toyota or a BMW Whatever kind of car you're gonna buy, you don't you kind of see one brand, when you look at that car, right? If you buy a Ford, you kind of buying a Ford, maybe you have a Bose stereo in it or something like that, right? But there's not a whole lot of like, of illustrating branding, some brand, thank you. Whereas if you look at the bike industry, you look at a bike and you've got 20 or 30 brands. And, you know, the more high end it is, it's almost like the more brands you have, right? And it's interesting, because there's not really a parallel for that anywhere else, not one that I can think of, you know, where you have an end product that's branded by multiple suppliers.

Bill Sharratt  15:42  
But then then product is almost infinitely configurable, right, with those different brands and specs.

Graham Sills  15:52  
Yeah, that's right. So in this in the component, suppliers, you have your branded and your unbranded, kind of that's an oversimplification, but we'll use that for now. And then, you know, inside this branded component supplier space, you have these international companies that have some sort of presence, you cannot compete in the industry without having some sort of presence in, you know, whether that's a sales office or warehousing, or distribution, or manufacturing, such as parks. And so So then, you know, when we think about well, actually, before we go on to that, maybe I'll just talk about I touched on it earlier, is the, you know, there's sort of like what, how things used to look. So, you know, you have this, this, this ecosystem of these companies that work together to manufacture a bike that eventually gets into a sales channel and lands on, you know, customers corruption. In the past, I would say that a lot of that relied on trading companies, and you know, what Taiwan used to be like, like, when I first landed in Taiwan in 1999, it was a much different place. You know, at that time, I would say that there is a lot less of a level of English just as a starting point, right. Which means access to market. And, you know, there's a lot less people who are educated overseas and stuff like that, where it's like, that's quite prevalent today. Right. And so back then it used to be that, you know, let's say, an overseas customer would come to Taiwan, the Trading Company, would then take this person or these people out for dinner, you would have, you know, a banquet hall, basically like this, each table has been up into these places, was 10 seats, you have 510 tables, that's 50 or 100 people, right, and they would invite the entire supply chain, and, you know, it'd be the trading company would then have people would come up, cheers, you know, and he would introduce, oh, this is the guy that makes, you know, component XYZ on on this. And, you know, he's really, you know, really happy to have you here, blah, blah, blah. Right. And it's, um, I think that that served a function for a long period of time. And I'd say that the bike industry then was was, was very relationship based. You know, depending on who you talk to, you could make an argument to say it still is, right? I would just say that, in terms of degree, I would say it's maybe a little bit less like that today. Right? Because it's it's modernized. Taiwan itself is a very cosmopolitan place. It's an island, it soaks up ideas from all over the place. That's what it relies on for survival. And so now, you know, fast forward to today, you have a lot. I mean, there's a lot of just wealth here, right? I mean, yeah. And there's a lot of capital intensive industries, that sort of just a Taiwanese place just to, you know, leverage capital, and, you know, creating a niche inside of an industry. And and so, you're moving from

Bill Sharratt  19:18  
good ol boy networks and relationships to you can't serve a rapidly scaling, publicly traded company culture that way. So obviously, you've got it. You've got to do more of the business controls and supply chain development and so on, rather than hoping you're going to meet the right people and put the deal together, right.

Graham Sills  19:47  
Sure. Sure. You need to you know, you touched on a good point. You mentioned about culture. I mean, you know, there's, there's a famous quote by Peter Drucker culture eats strategy. For breakfast. I mean, the quality of the company will determine how effective your strategy will be. Right. And, you know, it used to be more of a relationship based culture, there's still an element of that, but it moves forward into the future. And so, you know, when you're establishing an overseas branch, like kind of to back up to what I was doing with, you know, implementing the FOX strategy in Taiwan, you need to get really intentional about how that looks. Right.

Bill Sharratt  20:39  
You know, how did you how did you do it? You did it. You went from Greenfield? Literally, right? How much of the structure architecture of putting a factory together? Was yours? Or were you taking full input from others? I mean, your fingerprints are all over what's happened for for boxing?

Graham Sills  21:03  
I mean, it's a hybrid, right? I mean, I'm fortunate that we came from, you know, FOX itself has always had a really strong passionate culture. From, you know, our beginnings in the US, right? I mean, we're a more global company. Today, we used to be an American company operating in Taiwan, I now feel like we're a much more global company. And so, you know, the? So it's good question. So, I would say that there's a few key things to really bringing that culture across, because it's not a one to one, right? If you just take the existing culture, now you drop it into because you've got these different cultures, in company culture, and now you've got the external sort of, you know, society or. And so, if you were just to take it one to one without really filtering any of that, meaning, you might run into a situation of like, you know, tissue rejection, so to speak. Right? I mean, you can't just transplant without adapting to the host culture. Right. And so I think I'll trade strategy strategy. Yes, sure. Now, you want to keep the base meaning, but you want it to be, you know, absorbable, by the host, right? So I think it should, like you do need to be tailored to the place to the need to the organization. I think that that's, that's really important. I mean, an example of that is, you know, communication in, in Chinese. Right? Now, there's different degrees across different, you know, cultures, let's say, lowercase c cultures across the world, that have, how contextual that language is, right? If you take German, it's very direct, right? I mean, they take pride in there, in how directly, right? You know, and then you get, you go down the scale, and you kind of pass English and kind of Western cultures. And now you get into, you know, into a Chinese environment. I'm not an expert on all these things. But let's say, you know, Chinese language communication is a lot more contextual, right. And so as an example, for that, like you might have, let's say, somebody comes into your office, you know, like, somebody's a star, star employee, right? And they say to you, they say, Hey, you know, I really want to take care of my family, I really need to make sure that, you know, my kids are growing up, and they have a lot of needs, and I really want to take care of them. Now, if you're just taking that at face value, you might think, oh, geez, you know, I think they need more time with their family. That doesn't kind of sounds like it at face value. What they're really saying to you is they want to raise? Yes. So, I mean, I think that the the contextual part of it, because it's it is less direct, right? I mean, it's not across all things. And, you know, not to take it to the absolute extreme. Of course, there's there's the ability to communicate directly, but I just mean that for important things. They're going to,

Bill Sharratt  24:17  
let's say that kind of site sideways into the conversation.

Graham Sills  24:21  
Exactly. Right. Yes. Otters a little bit. That's really culturally that's that's how communication happens here. So I do think that, you know, along with that, I mean, thinking about, you know, the place the need the organization. You also in the intentionality behind it, you also really need to think about what kind of message you're conveying, right? You're going to plant your flag, you're going to say to the world that you're in about where you're going, and you need to be again, intentional about that. So when we came here, I mean, we went to, you know, a premiere Business Park precision park and I jumped. And that's a really good because when we came here, nobody knew us. Right? I would say today. I mean, you know, I've run into people, you know, as a Honda motorcycle dealership with a friend of mine. He goes, Oh, I know FOX now. I mean, you know, road. I mean, that kind of bite does not spec FOX, but he knows FOX, he knows us, actually, to our local employer brand. Right. So, you know, conveying to the world about what we're about? I guess I digress a little bit, but you know, it should you got to get the culture, right,

Bill Sharratt  25:37  
because my goodness, labor shortages and constraints have been rampant. You've got to be already in a good place to be right.

Graham Sills  25:47  
Sure. In the labor market, it's a seller's market. Right. I mean, you want to you have to be appealing to, to labor. And, you know, I think that the danger if you don't intentionally define your culture, is that it snaps back to what is the worst acceptable behavior that the organization will tolerate? That becomes Oh, that's our culture. Right. And actually, could I let me try it? Could I share a screen? I have a photo? Yeah. Great. Good. So let me see.

Bill Sharratt  26:30  
See, multiple, okay. During the zoom thing, you should have permission.

Graham Sills  26:37  
Sorry, I hope this works. I don't I don't I say a lot. So oh, here we go. Here we go. Okay, can you see that image?

Bill Sharratt  26:49  
Got it? Yeah.

Graham Sills  26:50  
So at the top, let me just kind of walk through what I'm talking about. And this is like, this is, this illustrates my point is that, you know, and this is actually somebody in Taiwan that posted this. And he said, you know, here's, here's Japan, and you notice that everything's orderly people are walking, like riding bikes, you've got this parasol over here. You know, everything's kind of orderly. And this is sort of like a Taiwanese complaint. Right? And then you've got here, Taiwan. And this sign here says, No parking, and pedestrian. And, you know, absolutely no parking is basically what it says. And you've got parking up and down here, right. So, you know, I guess this is, this is what I mean is that if you don't intentionally say and plant a flag and say, This is what our culture is, this is what we stand for. Because culture is a set of values, then it just sort of snaps back to the worst acceptable behavior. Yeah, I

Bill Sharratt  27:53  
was talking to a previous guest, Craig Rusli. And his his nugget that was passed down to him that stood him in good stead it was the behavior you accept is the behavior you will get? I think that's very much in line, right. Yeah. Yeah,

Graham Sills  28:12  
that's exactly. So clear expectations all the way. So, you know, I guess like, you know, I mentioned about, like, you know, the person who comes into your office saying they want to take care of their family. I think that the flip side to that, and this is where, like, the delicate balance comes into play, is that people do want to work for international companies. Right. I think that locally here. It's like, of course, there's some really strong Taiwanese companies, you know, I mean, like, look at TSMC. I mean, that's like, yes, yeah. Now, you know, TSMC is still at the top prepared, but then you've got these international companies, let's say, right. And so while it's sure, I mean, the employer needs to adapt a bit to the environment. I mean, you should also plant your flag somewhere that's a little bit aspirational for the employee as well. Right. And I think that's sort of like the flip side to that contextual communication. Now at FOX, we have we have a convenient place to start, which is like, you know, through cycling, right, because it's a really good platform to build culture on top. I mean, it's not a culture in itself, right. It's an leisure activity, it's, you know, it's health and wellness, all of these great things, but it's a place that you can start to establish culture on top of and even you know, we put together some writing activities here for for key staff where we would have like, you know, we get these like Sprinter vans with like big comfy seats, three of them eight people to ban towing bikes behind and we go to destinations and it turns Seems like a ski trip kind of feel, right? I mean, that's it's a good way to introduce and meet people where they are, right? Because now, after having two or three days of riding, you kind of okay, well, I can do this right, and it gives you a certain amount of confidence. And then that gives you a platform to just start to build culture on top of. And it's not even something we could do right away. But it was something that we were able to get to once we got into its you got to spin all the get all the plates spinning team building

Bill Sharratt  30:29  
with the brand woven right into it. It's, it's it's kind of a compelling way to bring people into the organization. Yeah,

Graham Sills  30:37  
sure. Sure. And we I mean, that's one example. Right. And that's somewhere that we had sort of natural advantage or like a head start on being able to, you know, but But it goes to my point of like, you know, it should be customizable, it should be intentional. And you know, you don't have to have a bike brand, to, to convey what's important, and your values of your organization. And you can do that any number of things. Right, I guess I'm just talking about strategies that were successful. For us. In our particular situation,

Bill Sharratt  31:07  
where you managed some explosive growth as as the manufacturing was transitioned to Tai Chung. On my visits, I was always amazed at how many more people were on the production floors, how you were managing the velocity of training, new hires, to assure quality, no interruption in output quality. And then to the culture. I was honored to be invited to company events when I was if I was in town, I'd be invited. I thank you for that. But it was clear from the ways those company events were managed as respect. There's clear communication, there's no, there's no cloudiness at all. It's all very clear. And and the egalitarian field that I was really quite impressed with. So it's a real neat culture that you're you're stewarding the grant,

Graham Sills  32:11  
for sure. Well, thank you. I mean, you know, we've now, you know, as we've continued to develop, you know, your company, you know, something we say internally is, we're not, we're never done, right, we're not finished yet. And so, you know, actually just kind of going back to my personal timeline, I mean, like, you know, we'd handed off the, let's say, stewardship of the factory, rather than I'm no longer running the factory years ago. But, you know, culture sticks, right? I mean, like, and I can see it to this day. I mean, there's, there's, once it's really, because it becomes your value system, right. And I can see that still evident in all of our manufacturing locations today. Because, you know, I mean, kudos to the team, they've still managed to continue to expand, and we have some more locations now, and a lot more people now. But that culture has really maintained, and I again, kudos to the team for keeping that as an intentional part of culture, you know, and, and keeping, it's about the diligence that goes into it. Right.

Bill Sharratt  33:27  
So tell me, what, what's the future for the high end bike industry? The kind of bikes that components are built in Taiwan, that assembled in Taiwan? Is that always going to be in Taiwan? It's such a huge center of gravity for the supply base, and everything that goes with it. Do you see that 510 years from now still being the same as the million dollar

Graham Sills  33:55  
question, right. I mean, there's, you know, you see these these new manufacturing clusters springing up, you know, like Portugal and different parts of Europe. There's also, you know, there's a lot of geopolitical factors that go into that as well, if you look at like, you know, Europe is always looking for more regulations, more certifications, and all of these things that just, you know, it's like, Sure, it's for the consumer, but it's really, it also happens to help the European industry, right, the local market. Yeah. And then, you know, you see some wildness that had happened in the past with, you know, tariffs and stuff like that. So, which kind of just shows you that anything can happen. Right. And, you know, predicting that is a bit of a fool's game, but I guess that doesn't mean that we shouldn't engage in it anyways. So, I mean, I would say that my prediction would be that Taiwan does continue to be a really important part of the pie. This whole sector, and I think for reasons that are, you know, the devils in the details, right? And once you start getting into what does it take to build up a bike? I think it's useful to look towards the history, right? Where it's like, there was a lot of like, we described that thing where it's very relationship based, and all of that kind of stuff. That's a culture in itself. And that doesn't go away. Right? Yes. So I think that, you know, it might transform in the way that it manifests itself. And you see a lot of that in like industry in China, right, or Southeast Asia, I mean, the something that Taiwanese have done very well, is to be flexible enough to outsource and, and leverage other economies and play with this, like they're very adept at, at navigating these geopolitical kinds of structures, let's say, and so, you know, automation is a big trend. There's people that fall on either side of that, right? There's some people who say, Oh, well, you know, look, you can never really remove people, and you're just gonna waste a bunch of money. And I was having this conversation yesterday. And then you have other people who are saying, Hey, if you don't automate you die. Right. And really, I think it's helpful when you talk about automation to think about, you know, how do you how do you elevate efficiency, right, you don't want to automate for the sense of, for the sake of automation, you really want to improve your efficiency. And so, I would say that, that's a place that Taiwan has always excelled that in the past, and will continue to excel in the future, regardless of of where we end up with bikes being made. I mean, you could end up with a lot of machinery that comes from Taiwan, there's Yes, yeah. You know, yeah, machine tools, machine makers, custom builders, integrators. It's a it's a niche that I think that Taiwan is really strong at. And so we could end up with, because of geopolitical reasons, or whatever other reasons, supply chain reasons, whatever it might be. We're bikes are built in different geographies. And I say built, because it's like, what does that really mean? You know, if you're building the machines, here, exporting it over there, where does that really built you know, I mean, getting a little bit caught concrete sense is being assembled in you know, different territory, but that could that would, that will have a lot of the manual history and knowledge that came from here going into, you know, the future of manufacturing in the like industry globally.

Bill Sharratt  37:45  
No, I I, I tend to agree, I think Taiwan's always, always going to be very much a part of high precision manufactured product or manufacturing equipment. Like you said, the capital is there, the the capitalism is very much there. And is is valued, I think, as part of the culture as well. So it's got a little it's got all the right ingredients for success for years to come. It's it's an amazing place. Anyone who hasn't been should go it's got a great vibe. It's one of the safest places to wander around when you're lost. It's

And we thank you for welcoming us to your home because you are certainly instrumental in helping us get set up and find some of the right partners to transition so that we could maintain inventory where you need it. That's I was struck when I reached out to you to say hey, do you want to be on a podcast? Your response is well, how can I help and personally Graham, that that's a great quality and I think it talks to who you are as a person so thank you, I'm gonna give you an opportunity to a shout out if you are talking to working at FOX why people should work at FOX and if you want to do a shout out in Mandarin for political hiring purposes feel free

Graham Sills  39:30  
Well, I'm not sure that the like as far as it is as far as the the Chinese language component being buried this late in the podcast I'm not sure if it's gonna be detected by anybody. But Google you'll hides it in the daytime whining juggler intern woman to be under what was a jam woman though when what to do when I saw dinner he told me out No one up like Jeru woman all the time. Did he? Did he cancel or mentor? Woman? Jensen either take a take a wooden one? So there's my plug in mantra.

Bill Sharratt  40:15  
Excellent. Excellent. So would you like people to be able to get in touch with you networking or getting to know you better?

Graham Sills  40:25  
I'm generally a pretty open person. So yeah, I mean, of course. I mean, and, you know, now that I think about it, I would, I would definitely put a link to this on my LinkedIn profile. Okay, so yeah, I mean, there's never somebody reaching out on LinkedIn, I always enjoy, you know, making contact with the people of other industries in the same industry or whatever.

Bill Sharratt  40:52  
Well, we'll be sure to, to feature your LinkedIn profile, LinkedIn profile on this podcast, and in the notes, and so on. So we'll be able to find you. Graham, we covered a lot of ground. I can't thank you enough. I know. I know how busy you are. So I really value the time you've spent with us. I do appreciate it. Is there anything that we missed or anything you'd like to add before we sign off?

Graham Sills  41:17  
No. And just it just thank you to you as well. I mean, thanks for reaching out to me. I'm really flattered by the invite. And it's been really enjoyable. And it always kind of helps to talk through some of these things now. It's been fun. So thanks a lot. Excellent. definitely is. Yeah, a pretty special place. Yes. Like you say, it's incredibly safe, incredibly friendly, welcoming. Yeah, it's, I mean, it's my home.

Bill Sharratt  41:33  
All right. Thank you, Graham. And thank you for watching. Looking forward to our next episode. Till then, goodbye.

Outro  41:43  
Thank you. Thanks for listening to the Makers of Our Future podcast. Behind every great product is a great seal. Learn more about how we can help@www.darcoid.com That's darcoid.com. The best seal on time zero defects. Darcoid.

External Link: https://youtu.be/higu8edlKq4

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