Guangdong Province, China, in 1989
Sprawling expanses of construction sites gIve evidence of big changes ahead. It was a country extricating itself from a painful past, a country experimenting with new systems. The collective strength of an impatient youth, fueled by hopes for a better live ahead, was ready to swell into an economic force, beyond anyone's expectations.
Union Way Factory, in 1989
A cluster of simple structures on the top of a hill: a modestly sized production floor, dormitories with bunk beds, a canteen with open fire places and large cooking-woks on top. There were no phone lines, electricity supply was random.
The possession of copying machines was unlawful. We used a wax-covered piece of silk instead, stretched across a wooden frame, using a pointed piece of steel to scratch lines and letters into the layer of wax. When forcing ink through the scratched pattern of wax, an alike image was rendered onto a sheet of thin paper placed underneath the screen. The wax wore off fast, ensuring that the bureaucracy of ours was kept slim.
The summer heat was paralyzing. The nights, spent under the mosquito net and wrapped into sweat-soaked linen, were filled with the nerve-racking buzz of insects, keeping sleep away until tiredness took over. The damp-cold winter seasons, spent inside the unheated concrete structures, appeared to be preferable to the laundry-like summer days.
Our workers mostly came from the Northern provinces of China. Herded into rattling rail cars, they often arrived in a very sorry state after having spent days on clanking rail roads, shabby train platforms and sleeping on the floors of dingy railway stations. Along with a small bundle of personal belongings, they brought with them the resilience of the rural people.
They worked skillfully with outdated machines, simple tools and fixtures. In hindsight, it was the lack of almost everything that made us think of ingenious methods and devices to achieve results. Yet, the general mood was mostly cheerful. They regularly remitted a good part of their small income back home, paying for siblings' primary school - there was no free schooling for the children of farmers.
Union Way Factory, in 1992
Local officials sent note that our factory on the hill top had to give way to a new road project. It was only weeks later that our buildings were dynamited and the hill was flattened by an armada of bulldozers of the brand "The Red East". Whenever I happen to drive along this new road, I can not help slowing down at the point at which used to be our old produciton floor.
During the ensuing months of uncertainty our people loyally stood by the Company. We kept producing under impossible conditions, in the nearby city. We soon acquired a plot of land and built on it the factory we are still in, to this day.
We began with the in-house production of inductive components, the design of plastic- and stamping molds, with metal stamping and powder painting. This degree of self-sufficiency enabled us to flexibly provide our electronic assembly lines with quality parts, on time and at the right quantity. It was a time of growth, a time of great optimism.
Union Way Factory, in 2000
The year that we faced a precarious situation. Our most important OEM-partner "jumped ship" on short notice. We had to provide jobs to our workers, we had to design and build products of our own. A grueling work schedule was the price to be paid for the road to a lesser economic dependence on condtions we had no control of. This near-disaster turned out to be a blessing in disguise; it was a new beginning. We launched our first MEC-labeled product within weeks, simple though it was, but we were proud of it.
MEC Energietechnik GmbH or MEC, in 2007
It was the year MEC Energietechnik GmbH was established in Villach, Austria. Having the opportunity to communicate with our European customers directly made us understand the possibilities and constraints of doing business between Europe and China - to the advantage of both sides.
This short account of our company history can be likened to a grinding Marathon run, interspaced with periods of successes and bright expectations. Along the road I was accompanied by our loyals who, not being discouraged whenever we came across obstacles and hurdles along the road, simply set out to clear them away, to continue the journey ahead.
We have not yet arrived at the remote goal we had set outselves. But we believe that, what really counts, is the journey leading towards a set destination.
It is my wish that this outline of the establishment of our Company can illustrate that perseverance, paired with a forward-looking mindset, is a source of strength that makes things happen.
Founder and Managing Director of MEC