Recently, Global Cleveland spent time with the team at Jergens, Inc. to learn more about their innovative approach to connecting Northeast Ohio to international business opportunities. Bryon Shafer, General Manager of ASG and Jergens Shanghai, oversees the ASG Division of Jergens, Inc. and has operational responsibility for their wholly owned foreign enterprise (WOFE), Jergens Shanghai Commercial Co., Ltd. In our conversation, Bryon shares more details on how Northeast Ohio companies can partner with Jergens to break into the Chinese market:
What are some of the legal aspects that Jergens has gone through in opening an office in Shanghai? Were any aspects of this process unexpected or more difficult than planned?
Our WOFE in China was established in 2006 to grow market share of the Jergens brands into the Chinese market. In 10 years, our business model has grown and evolved to include other US mid-market industrial product manufacturers, providing them access to a proven platform to introduce their brands into the Chinese market.
Compliance is one of our top priorities in China. More specifically, ensuring all our HR and related social benefits for staff are handled properly, as well as customs and other regulations associated with doing business in China. (pricing, invoicing, tax, A/R, A/P, etc.)Compliance is also one of the core commitments we make to partners giving them the comfort of knowing we’re handling the operations correctly, so they can focus on growing their brand in China.
How was the decision made to locate in Shanghai?
Shanghai is the commercial hub of China, centrally located on the East coast, with easy access to ports and commercial flights from the USA. Our first few offices in Shanghai were located in the financial district of PuDong.
Prior to establishing the Jergens WOFE, our first staff were hired in Shanghai through AMT (Association for Manufacturing Technology) and it was a natural progression to establish our first office in Shanghai. As our business grew, in 2014 we signed a long-term lease and moved to an industrial park in the Jinqiao district of PuDong, providing abundant access to office and warehouse space and the ability to expand our brands into China.
How can Cleveland area manufacturers partner with Jergens Shanghai to work in China?
Once a Cleveland area manufacturer has determined it’s time to take their brand to the Chinese market, Jergens can provide them access.
The core services available include:
- HR & payroll
- Accounting & finance
- Logistics & warehousing
- We’ll also soon be adding marketing to the lineup
Our goal is to provide partner brands with a low threshold of entry to the Chinese market that is compliant, customizable, flexible and scalable.
What do Jergens Shanghai colleagues say about their visits to Cleveland?
Jergens Shanghai team members that have the chance to visit Jergens HQ in Cleveland are often impressed. The NBA is extremely popular in China and the Cleveland Cavaliers (and of course LeBron James) are a hit! Everyone wants tickets to a Cav’s game! Jergens hosts visits a few times a year for training, trade shows, or other special events. Of course, they prefer to visit in the spring, summer or fall months over winter.
If you or your organization would like to learn more about opportunities to partner with Jergens Shanghai, contact: