Long-distance relationship Featured

11:22am EDT April 22, 2005
Lakewood-based Hinkley Lighting has imported about 85 percent to 90 percent of its products from China in the past decade. Hinkley President Rick Wiedemer says the company's annual revenue has doubled in the last three years due to the lowering of price points through importing and efficient distribution in the United States.

Over the years, Wiedemer has learned some simple lessons about developing business partnerships in China.

* Trust your instincts. "If a guy's honest, he's probably honest. If you think he's not, he's probably not," Wiedemer says.

* Never assume. "In the Chinese culture, they're very anxious to please, and they will always say yes but they don't always understand what they're saying yes to," Wiedemer says. "So check and double check (contracts, samples and products) all the time ... to make sure a product is exactly the way you want it."

* Check pricing. "When you're pricing something, make sure you have included all of your costs there -- shipping, insurance, duty -- when you're calculating your final costs."

* Be conscious of your proprietary rights. "Don't assume they're going to respect the American laws in that regard. I have not taken it to a legal point of view; I just tried to be aware of it myself and tried to stay one step ahead of it. I have not wanted to get involved in their legal system," he says. "That's the foundation of the relationship. If they have done that, that breeches the relationship, and you'll probably need to go somewhere else." HOW TO REACH:

Hinkley Lighting, (800) 446-5539 or www.hinkleylighting.com