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Post date:
2011-12-07
US exports chopsticks to China | Find out how a Korean entrepreneur in the Georgia, USA made it


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According to CNN, an Asian entrepreneur in the state of Georgia, USA had thought of the crazy idea of exporting chopsticks, made in the good old USA to China. Jae Lee, a U.S. citizen originally from South Korea, says his company is America’s only chopsticks manufacturer and exports them to China and Japan. Apparently his business is giving new jobs a town with a population of about 17,000 called Americus in the state of Georgia.

He has a staff of 102 employees, but isn’t facing the high demand of a big market like Asia, so he is planing to hire an additional 800 workers next year. "Apparently, there’s a huge demand worldwide for chopsticks," said Americus Mayor Barry Blount, noting that the disposable nature of the products keeps the demand strong. "You and I use a fork and put it in the dishwasher, but I guess if you use chopsticks one time, you dispose of them."

Despite the fact that America’s stores are all packed with products coming from China, he is defying the perception that the US can not manufacture anything anymore. Having an Asian background, Lee knows the Asian market and the fact that China and Japan simply doesn’t have enough wood to support it’s production of chopsticks, while Georgia does.

Lee uses recycled materials from area sawmills as well as the poplar and sweet gum trees that are ideal for making chopsticks and plentiful in the region. Now don’t think that China didn’t import anything before, and this is just the guy that broke the ice. China imports most of it’s wood from Indonesia, Canada and many other countries around the world. The wood is shipped to China where it is sold to factories that manufacture finished products from it. This is where we can say that Lee’s case is different, because he is sending the actual finished product to China.

100% of the production his firm makes, is exported, none is for domestic use. The demand is so strong that Lee plans to add five more factories, and may expand beyond Georgia. And more than that, he is planing on extending to other products as well. Lee said he’s considering other states that are rich in lumber, such as neighboring Florida or Alabama. Mississippi, Virginia, West Virginia, Michigan and Oregon are also possibilities.

The demand is so strong that Lee plans to add five more factories, and may expand beyond Georgia. Lee said he’s considering other states that are rich in lumber, such as neighboring Florida or Alabama. Mississippi, Virginia, West Virginia, Michigan and Oregon are also possibilities.

Lee said that no bank would lend to him in the beginning, so he raised his first $1 million through the help of family members. He settled in Americus partly because of the cheap real estate, but mostly because of its access to raw materials. They set up shop in an old building owned by Sumter County, which provided them with a discounted lease, said Lee. The building was once used as a box factory, but had been abandoned for about 80 years until they installed the chopstick making machines.

he rapid expansion of Georgia Chopsticks, and its role as an American exporter to China, reflects a wider trend. U.S. manufacturing appears to be strengthening, while it looks like China’s economy, and its manufacturing sector, have hit a speed bump.

Source: CNN

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