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THTMA Elects Arthur Wu as Chairman

Dec 17, 2013 | By Steve Chuang

New head wants to reorganize the association and get more government resources

The 13th annual general meeting of the Taiwan Hand Tool Manufacturers' Association (THTMA) concluded on Sept. 13, 2013 in the central city of Taichung with the election of a new board of directors and supervisors as well as the organization's 13th chairman.

With the THTMA being the only organization representing Taiwan's hand tool industry, its annual general meeting (AGM) is a highly significant event for industry insiders, experts, and relevant government officials, especially since hand tool manufacturing is a driver of economic growth in central Taiwan. This is where more than 800 producers and downstream processors are clustered, forming one of world's best integrated supply chains for the hand tool industry.

Over 150 people attended this year's meeting, mostly industry specialists. Also present were officials and representatives from a variety of agencies and organizations such as the Industrial Development Bureau, Economic Development Bureau of Taichung City Government, Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA, a government-supported organization engaged in export promotion), China Steel Corp. (the industry's largest upstream supplier of wire rods and steel), China Economic News Service (Taiwan's best-known export media), Metal Industries Research & Development Centre (a leading R&D body), and Chinese National Federation of Industries (an industrial association representing a majority of local manufacturing businesses).

Successful Computerized Elections

The most important activity at the meeting, the elections of the 13th chairman and new board of directors, were carried out using computerized voting for the first time.

Arthur Wu, president of the Proxen Tools Co., a manufacturer of high-end adjustable wrenches, was elected as the 13th THTMA chairman; and C.H. Lai, chairman of the King Tony Tools Co., Taiwan's best-known OBM (original brand manufacturer) of hand tools, was voted in as head of the board of supervisors, along with eight new directors, all veterans in the line.

In his election victory speech, the new chairman outlined his goals for the next three years, including reorganizing the association's structure and establishing seven commissions to carry out different tasks, enhancing the THTMA's global presence and exposure, and obtaining more government resources and support to sustain the industry's future development.

“Thanks to the unstinting efforts of its former chairmen,” Wu said, “the THTMA's development has been pointed in the right direction over the past decades. I, as the new chairman, will do my best to make it stronger and better able to lead the industry's development in the coming three years.”

Former Chairman's Reviews Three Years in Office

Before handing over the chair to Wu, the association's previous chairperson, Mark Lin, also the president of the Yih Cheng Factory Co., Taiwan's largest screwdriver maker by output, reviewed the achievements of the THTMA under his leadership.

Lin first thanked the Bureau of Foreign Trade and TAITRA for their support, under which the THTMA was able to use government subsidies totaling NT$50 million to boost the industry's global presence over the past three years. “The subsidies were 18% more than the association received during the 2007-2009 period,” Lin noted. “They were a great help to us in enhancing the exposure of Taiwanese hand tool makers at international trade fairs worldwide. I also have to thank China Steel for its efforts on stabilizing steel prices and helping us to better compete globally.”

The brand-new B2B online platform, www.idealez.com, Lin said, is a striking example of this support. Inaugurated by the Bureau of Foreign Trade in late October, 2012 and now operated by TAITRA, the platform provides easier accesses for Taiwanese hand tool companies to the e-commerce segment by enabling them to open online retail stores where micro-transactions with foreign buyers are allowed. This further extends their reach through the Internet.

To help Taiwanese companies explore emerging markets in the Middle East, Lin reported, the THTMA cooperated with three Saudi chambers of commerce—the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Qassim Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and AI-Ahsa Chamber and Industry--in holding Taiwanese product exhibitions in Saudi Arabia in March 2013.

In another story of success, Lin said that after years of hard work to include 10 hand tools and accessories in the MIT Smile certification program, inaugurated by the Ministry of Economic Affairs for the labeling and identification of products that are made in Taiwan and have proven quality, nine of the items were accepted in January this year. This, Lin noted, will help Taiwan-made hand tools gain recognition among foreign buyers.

Lin expressed particular pride in his achievements in forging partnerships between the THTMA and its foreign counterparts. He emphasized that following participation in the establishment of Federation of Asia Pacific Hardware Chambers in 2012, which opened the door to the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) market wider for Taiwanese hand tool makers, the association also moved to reinforce cooperation with Japanese hand tool suppliers.

“Over the past three years,” Lin recounted, “exchanges between the Taiwanese and Japanese hand tool industries have been progressing smoothly. This cooperation will surely increase in the years to come; at a meeting in March 2013, the two sides reached a better consensuses not just on strengthening exchanges, but also on the joint development of markets in China and Southeast Asia and on the push to hold ministerial-level meetings during APEC conferences in the future.”

Guest Remarks

Following Lin, invited speakers gave AGM attendees brief insights into the industry's current status and development.

Y.F. Huang, section chief of the Industrial Development Bureau, reported that the government has implemented manufacturing industry regeneration projects aimed at helping small and medium-sized traditional manufacturers with upgrading. “The government provides a variety of measures, such as Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) projects, to secure Taiwanese hand tool makers ample and accessible resources for R&D and upgrading,” he said.

M.R. Lin, managing director of the Chinese National Federation of Industries, indicated that most industries have been negatively affected by Taiwan's economic transition and brain drain, caused mostly by government policies, over the past decade. “For further industrial development,” he urged, “the government should respond more positively to insiders' appeals and advice, and map out reasonable policies on electricity rates, air quality regulations, and energy taxes that can be harmonized with international rules.”

M.H. Chen, vice president for sales of the Dragon Steel Corp., the largest subsidiary of China Steel by output, thanked Mark Lin for his efforts to strengthen business ties between China Steel and the industry, saying that hand tool manufacturing is the downstream industry that generates the highest added for steel of all industries in Taiwan and that China Steel has consistently played a proactive role in helping the industry to upgrade.

“For instance,” Chen explained, “China Steel has developed several special steel alloys with a stronger structure and lower production cost in response to the persistent demand of hand tool makers for competitive materials. Also, China Steel has worked with local universities, such as the National Yunlin University of Science and Technology (NYUST), on the joint development of new materials to help drive R&D momentum and technology development.”

Another speaker was NYUST president C.K. Hou, who confirmed that his university is continuing to cooperate with China Steel in helping Taiwan's hand tool industry to boost its added value, saying, “NYUST has just set up an R&D center for engineering technology in response to the Ministry of Education's academia-industry cooperation enhancement policy, and is designing and planning educational programs related to hand tools.”

1. The THTMA chairman's seal is passed from ex-chairman Mark Lin (right) to new chairman Arthur Wu (left), with THTMA honorary chairman M.C. Cheng (middle) witnessing the event.
2. After assuming the chairmanship of THTMA, Arthur Wu outlines his plan for the development of the association in the next three years.
3. More than 150 industry insiders, government officials, and experts attended the THTMA's 2013 AGM.
4. M.H. Chen, vice president for sales of Dragon Steel, talks about his company's research into new steel alloys specifically for hand tool production.
5. Past chairperson Mark Lin reports on THTMA's work during three-year his tenure.
Export Value of Taiwan's Hand Tools Jan.-May, 2013, by Destination and Category
Unit: NT$1 million
Destination Sockets Wrenches Pliers Vices Screwdrivers Hammesr, Axes, Pickaxes, Shovels Saws Scissor Garden Tools Overall Exports
U.S. 1,058.27 652.93 377.59 92.88 172.20 172.29 104.65 38.50 432.08 11,108.67
Canada 59.69 181.09 24.02 12.75 14.44 6.21 3.79 7.94 22.38 908.73
Japan 105.30 152.06 39.81 25.93 19.43 19.95 11.75 51.46 87.46 2,440.73
China 428.93 127.83 87.04 12.15 39.79 13.63 13.20 25.08 481.0 3,562.42
Hong Kong 8.66 13.34 16.40 2.99 8.21 0.01 8.91 4.62 2.39 456.95
U.K. 72.01 82.57 52.47 13.47 20.97 11.54 11.41 11.65 92.53 1,343.74
France 153.69 163.96 54.76 11.03 15.61 4.10 6.94 24.57 59.91 1,021.27
Germany 173.50 228.13 84.09 25.17 23.65 23.20 28.16 14.09 177.60 2,365.82
Italy 33.50 76.49 41.17 6.94 23.24 3.13 4.82 27.96 50.94 691.96
Australia 109.18 214.95 56.79 5.54 31.96 16.17 17.97 13.15 89.55 1,328.34
Africa 47.89 44.77 22.62 7.43 14.77 2.09 1.96 3.95 33.58 499.22
Others 1,353.28 1,031.05 467.03 171.83 230.07 128.77 153.77 159.58 566.88 13,201.62
Total 3,570.40 2,892.68 1,282.62 381.17 591.10 397.96 362.51 454.59 1,612.46 38,237.51
YoY Growth -5% -9% -1% -13% -8.3% 2% 6% 0% -5% -4%
Source: Taiwan Hand Tool Manufacturers' Association

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