Chinese expansion starts with city of Suzhou
For the first time, Craftsman will be putting its polished business model to the test in a vastly bigger market: China, starting with the city of Suzhou, near Shanghai.
The potential is obvious in a country with 168 million vehicles (rising 5 percent a year) and 1233 accidents a day. But China is also a notorious wrecking yard of failed foreign ventures. Why take the risk?
“Right now when you damage your car in China, you only have two options,” says Greg Hatswell, son of Craftsman President and founder Bill Hatswell, and Craftsman’s GM of real estate. “If it’s high-end, you can take it back to your dealership. Otherwise you have to trust it to a Ma and Pa shop with dubious skills and equipment. We’re offering a third option we think will attract many Chinese drivers. Our goal is to establish a foothold and participate in an industry transformation.”
Craftsman’s business systems and customer service will play a big – but not exclusive – role in that transformation. Advancements already being tested or used by Craftsman in Canada – including millimetre-precise frame measuring systems and our new nitrogen-powered, heated spray-painting system that dries faster and glossier while using significantly less paint – will be an equally important part of the mix.
The Suzhou shop will open sometime in 2012.