Looking for a Chinese Partner?

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The Chinese New Year (yes, that's today) is delivering on its promise to bring plenty of "fireworks" to Dealer Expo, with more companies displaying more products in a larger exhibit space than ever before.

It may be another Year of the Hog at Harley-Davidson, but today kicks off the Year of the Boar in the Chinese zodiac. It's regarded as an auspicious year for business because boars are loyal, determined and run in straight lines (You didn't know that, did you?). Some say it means an especially good year for businesses having to do with fire, metal and earth — and that's us.

It's evident when you look at the growth in Chinese exhibitors at Dealer Expo, from about 10 in 2004 to 30 in 2005 and about 50 in '06. While the number is about the same this year, manufacturers are spreading out from the Chinese Pavilion in the Marriott Hotel to the RCA Dome. Many companies that took only two or four booths last year have doubled their space.

Jinan Qingqi Motorcycle Co., a builder of motorcycles, ATVs and scooters, is showing more than 30 new models this year at booths in the Pavilion and the RCA Dome. New products focus on ATVs, dirt bikes and scooters, as well as related power products such as generators.

About half of the Chinese exhibitors are new to the show. The new companies include:

  • Chongqing Long Ting Power Equipment Co., a manufacturer of ATVs, UTVs, go-karts and dirt bikes.
  • Chongqing Charming Motorcycle Manufacturing Co., a manufacturer of motorcycles, ATVs, dirt bikes and related powersports products.
  • Zhejiang Tianya Property Co., a maker of dirt bikes, choppers, ATVs, go-karts, racing karts, scooters, and pocket bikes.
  • Zhejiang Zhongneng Industry Group, a producer of motorcycles and scooters.
  • Zhejiang Xmotos, a manufacturer of dirt bikes, ATVs and electric bikes.
  • Zhejiang Peace Industrial and Trade Co., which makes ATVs, dirt bikes and scooters.

The Year of the Boar is also a good year for joint ventures. Chinese companies want to establish partnerships with U.S. firms to improve their distribution systems as well as promote new products, says Terry Qin, who handles certain business development activities for Advanstar (parent company of Dealer Expo and Dealernews) in Asia.

These companies seem to be determined to shake off the growing pains of entering the U.S. market by establishing long-term relationships with local distributors and representatives.

"Many Chinese companies have had bad experiences with some of their importers and distributors," says Qin. "But they are too small to set up their own U.S. operation. So they are looking for partners here. They want to set up joint venture operations with dealers."

Dealers should consider these opportunities to develop partnerships when they visit the Chinese booths, emphasizes Qin. — Joe Delmont