Winter Term 2014 – Glen Raven

Today we visited Glen Raven Asia. They are located about 2 hours away from Shanghai in the Suzhou Industrial Park in Suzhou, China. Suzhou Industrial Park is a joint venture between China and Singapore. The government turned a once rural area into a city thriving with businesses known all over the world.

We were able to tour the facility and listen to a bit about the company and their history in a talk given by the general manager, Mr. Hua Li, a graduate of NC State. Mr. Hua Li was a very generous host and we enjoyed hearing his comments and getting to spend time with him.

One of the most interesting parts about the visit was just how complicated the actual process of producing the fabric is and how much work is done to ensure the best quality product. One of Glen Raven’s products is Sunbrella, which can be found at many restaurants all over the world, covering the umbrellas or awning. The process involves multiple steps to ensure that the fabric is water resistant and durable.
The manufacturing area itself was very clean and it was clear that Glen Raven has high standards for safety and the workplace environment. We also had the opportunity to learn more about Glen Raven’s commitment to their employees. Their turnover rate is significantly lower than the average, they have a bus that picks up employees for work, and employees working 8 hour shifts get lunch in the cafeteria. They view their employees as family. Speaking of lunch, we had lunch in the cafeteria and ate a typical meal for employees. It was one of the best meals we’ve had in China. Overall, we were able to learn a lot about the market in Asia and China’s economy from our visit.
After spending time at Glen Raven, we went to the old part of Suzhou. We saw the old city wall that was built around 2,500 years ago. Then we took a boat through the canal and stopped at a local market. The old buildings and houses along the canal of Suzhou were fascinating. We also saw a Buddhist temple. It was a great way to explore a the history of China. It was also a good point of reference for comparing the old city to the newer urbanized part. It is an amazing contrast.

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