Had lunch yesterday with Larry Westbrook, president of Puls North America, a power supply vendor. He had some problems with something that was said about buying cheap power supplies in China in a previous edition of Control. So, naturally, we went out and ate Chinese food and talked about it.
Larry said that right now, you can’t buy a top class power supply from China…and he’s right. Not just because he makes said top class power supplies (and he does) but because right now, the Chinese are concentrating on making cheap things in volume. But pretty soon now, they are going to have the design expertise to give us in North America and Western Europe a run for it in quality and forward-thinking design. Larry gives it five years, maybe. I suspect he’s right there too. Anything longer is whistling past the graveyard, looking at the enormous amount of engineering and technical talent graduated from Chinese (and Indian) universities EVERY year.
What does he think we need to do? Well, what Puls is doing is to design new products faster, and try to keep that 5 year rubber between themselves and the Chinese. If Puls can stay inside the design-decision loops of lower cost manufacturers until the costs of manufacture equalize, and they will, Puls will continue to have a value add proposition to differentiate themselves from the Chinese.
And that’s the real secret…get inside the command-control decision loop of your competition and STAY there. It doesn’t matter how much better they get, if you are one step ahead of them.
This works for your career, too…