A Visit to Suntech

In Manufacturers by African Energy

A few weeks ago I made a visit to Suntech headquarters in Wuxi to assist in off-grid technical training for African customers. It is sign of the times that one travels to China to meet Africans these days. It was a worthwhile trip and I met a lot of good people who will move this industry forward. But the most remarkable part of the experience was the comparison with my last visit to Suntech almost two years ago. That was still during the heady days when gravity no longer worked and module manufacturers were basking in what seemed to be unlimited demand and good profits. The headquarters are a much more sober place these days. I noticed a lot of things that indicate Suntech has clamped down on unnecessary spending. The factory side of the street was still humming along, but the administration side is on short rations. This pleases me – not just because I like frugality in our manufacturers – but because this is certainly the right thing for the company now. Suntech let me know that their inventories would be cleared by year’s end and that all new production will be to order. The number of models is also being reduced and rationalized. Reminds me of the old days at Kyocera and it seems a sensible course. There are many who know much more about the details of the company, but overall I saw only positive signs and good morale, and left with the impression that Suntech will weather this storm and be better for it.