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Outsourcing in reverse, sort of


Alicia Knadler
Indian Valley Editor
7/27/2011

 

While Greenville businessman and inventor Ken Donnell travels the world in search of ways to manufacture his new miniature microphone, he is also searching for ways to create jobs here at home.

Such is the goal of his newest venture, which includes having two Chinese men, John Luo and Kobe Wang, live with him for a few weeks as apprentices in the guitar building and restoring trade.

“John and Kobe’s visit to Greenville is an important first step in this journey to develop China as a consumer market for wood products manufactured in Plumas County,” Donnell said.

From the Wuhan area of central China, Luo and Wang both learned how to speak English in high school.

Wuhan is the most populated city in central China, and is the fourth largest city in the country.

The metropolitan landscape is dotted with lakes and pools, and the Yangtze and Han rivers meander through and converge there.

With all that water, the city is oppressively humid in the summers, when temperatures can reach up to an extreme 108 degrees Fahrenheit, or frigid in the winter when the damp, bone-chilling cold can go as low as minus 1.

The men have found great contrast in Plumas County and Greenville, where they are enjoying the peace and quiet, the blue skies and fresh air.

To be fair, the Wuhan area is being completely rebuilt right now, so it’s very dusty and noisy, they said, and there are about 2 million extra people living there and working to rebuild the subways, freeways and buildings.

Another observation from the men: it takes a whole day to drive a car around Wuhan, while it takes only about 30 minutes to walk around downtown Greenville.

At home in their spare time the men enjoy watching movies, going out to good restaurants with friends and family, sight-seeing and attending family parties.

They also enjoy sports like ping-pong, basketball and swimming.

The company they work for in China is Johnny Eleca.

Their main products include electronics for the music industry, such as pickups for electric guitars and Donnell’s miniature microphone inventions.

They also do a large amount of business in retail sales of electric guitars here in the United States.

The company has 400 employees in a five-story plant that features a clean room for the manufacture of specialty electronics.

One of Donnell’s employees, Matt Graves, will be sent to China to work there, while he forges ahead in plans to open up a small manufacturing plant in Greenville.

“Shipping parts back and forth instead of finished products will save a lot in the way of tariffs and taxes,” he said.

Donnell wants their company to become the premier provider of electric and acoustic guitars, while at the same time, he hopes to bring 10 – 15 jobs to Greenville and improve the local economy.

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