Artists meet the producers: A trip to Ningbo Evergreen

February 24, 2010 Evergreen Enterprises, Inc. 0 Comments

Jeff Mora, one of our graphic designers from the Product Development  team, spent two weeks travelling to Ningbo Evergreen to work and refine the poly-resin procedures with our China Manufacturing team. This trip aims to build a better business partnership between our in-house designers and our Ningbo production team. For Jeff himself, though, it’s not only a training session to let arts meet production, but also an eye-opening foreign experience.

On the first day we arrived at Ningbo Evergreen, we took a tour of the factory and met all the staff. Mark (veteran garden product designer) and I were fortunate to arrive just in time to be a part of the flag department’s exercise break. After working out a good sweat, we continued our journey through the wonderful world of Evergreen.

The Evergreen facility in Ningbo is nothing short of awesome. I felt so proud to be a part of the Evergreen family and privileged to represent the corporate office in China. Factory after factory… flags, resin, oil bottles, floor mats, melamine, napkins – WOW – unbelievable how efficient the facilities operate.

It is so amazing to actually experience the creation, from when we have the idea, work it up, sketch it and spec it out and then see that idea become a 3-dimensional object. It blew my mind away. The sculptures and painters were amazing, and I was ever more impressed with the progression of time. They work so hard with long hours, and have the best personalities… it’s great to know that our efforts in the U.S. are supported through our Ningbo Team (and vise versa).

Day in and Day out – I got to work with the talented team members by connecting instantly with “Brave” and “Susan Fan” who I have been in contact with for months by e-mails. They put me right to work with clay and tools. Where there were areas of their sculpts that needed revision – maybe a nose was too big or a flower too small… with the training Peter gave me here in Richmond – I was able to jump right in and finalize a few new garden items. I even learned a new trick or two – using a bamboo rod as a stabilizer … using wet clay then a hair dryer to set final pieces… really great tips!

Lunch time (my favorite) was great. We were served plate after plate of great food… everything “family-style”.  I mean really…. and then all the rice you can eat! We never went hungry… Everything you can imagine was provided for us- truly generous. Though I did have a bit of trouble with chop-sticks, being that I had never used them before, I made efforts to not use the forks provided. It took several meals before I was even truly able to put anything in my mouth smoothly without dropping it. I wasn’t as coordinated as much as I would have liked to have been…

I have to mention my “stinky-tofu” experience. Our first real authentic Chinese meal was when we arrived to Ningbo from Shanghai. Frank and Ting took us out, the food was delicious, and for the first time and probably the last, I tried “Stinky-Tofu”. Being that I had already started a head-cold, I couldn’t smell anything. Well, I took a bite and it wasn’t that bad. As I was mentioning, I could not sense the smell so there wasn’t anything to alarm me and plus I didn’t even know what I was eating. So, this time ignorance was bliss, I only tasted tofu and I am not a fan of tofu so that is why I didn’t get seconds. It wasn’t until a week later when we were traveling; I finally smelt what I tried that night. And WOW! All I have to say is that it was a good thing I had a head-cold.

[Stinky-tofu has a pungent odor that can be purchased almost at any street corner fast- food stand. Stinky-tofu is also known by its Chinese name, Chou Dofu, and for several hours a block of tofu is soaked in this mixed preservative brine-blend that has been fermenting for months and then served.] This is a very popular and inexpensive treat.
If you can get past the smell the taste isn’t bad; if you like the texture of tofu? However the smell turns more heads than it attracts, at least to foreigners like me.

After arriving back in Richmond, I shared what I had learned with our product design team. Actually understanding how they work, the materials and tools they work with to make our designs real is fascinating and provided me with a newfound appreciation for their talents. It also inspired our product team to ensure we were providing the best descriptions and information in the product specifications that we send them for better accuracy the first time around in creating product samples. The trip will truly save us many, many dollars over the course of the year as our team has learned areas of improvement and increased communication.

Jeff Mora
Graphic Designer of Product Development Team