This blog has been quiet recently and for good reason. We have been busy preparing for an overseas trade show. I just came back to Singapore over the weekend, and have been sorting out the name cards and photos.
Star Bamboo participated in the 11th Cross-Straits Fair for Economy and Trade from 18 to 22 May at the Chinese city of Fuzhou:
As you can guess from its name, the fair is aimed at promoting trade between China and Taiwan. The Taiwanese delegation is the biggest and took up two halls out of five.
For the first time, the Singapore pavilion took up an entire hall too, and named it the “Uniquely Singapore Brands Fair”:
This is a general fair, so we had a mix of companies from different industries. We ended up between companies selling resort stays, metal pipes, office furniture, and health supplements. Strangely enough, Star Bamboo was categorised under the Lifestyle section.
This time we are showcasing not just our bamboo flooring, but also our bamboo household products and kitchenware. So I suppose the tag just about fits:
We brought along our bamboo boxes, bamboo namecard holders, bamboo chopping boards, bamboo knife holders, bamboo cutlery, bamboo trays etc. All made from 100% bamboo!
The response from the visitors was overwhelming, with many requests to purchase the items on display. Unfortunately most of them were not for sale as we only brought along one item of each kind:
The first couple of days were busier, thanks to the intense media attention to the event. Early on the first day, I could see reporters and television crew prowling the halls for stories:
One enterprising Singapore company boss shared with me over dinner how he got free publicity.
He marched up to a reporter, and simply said “Go over to that booth, got something that nobody else has!”. When the reporter took the bait and went over later, she initially missed the booth because it was so small and inconspicuous. The boss had to wave his arms and shout “Over here!”. Being interviewed on camera then caught the attention of other reporters, who went over to check out what the fuss was about.
In the end, he managed to get 3 television interviews and one article in the newspapers.
There is a colourful Chinese saying “会哭的宝宝有奶喝”, which translates to “The crying baby gets the milk”. How true indeed.
But most of the media glare was on the VIPs on stage. You can see the masses of reporters from various television stations gathered below for the opening ceremony (I’ve lost count of how many CCTV channels there are in China):
The event was graced by Mr Lee Yi Shyan, Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Manpower:
SMa is one of the co-organisers for the Singapore Pavilion, along with Singapore’s Consulate-General in Xiamen. The Consul-General is the lady in the photo, Ms Tee Bee Lock. We just call her CG:
After the speeches was the customary walk-about by the VIPs. Here they are passing by our booth:
Before they have the chance to move on, I quickly inserted myself in front of the Minister, shook his hand, and rattled off a short introduction of our company and products.
His first comment was that I look young (thank you!), followed by how innovative and beautiful our eco-friendly bamboo products are.
On the 3rd day of the show when things have quietened down, CG and Mr Poh Choon Ann came by our booth again. Mr Poh is SMa’s Vice President and Chairman of SMa’s China Business Committee, as well as the mission leader. He is also the Chairman and CEO of Poh Tiong Choon Logistics Ltd, a well-known company listed on the Singapore Exchange:
Two of our bamboo products (a bamboo tissue box holder and bamboo box) have caught CG’s eye the other day, and she wanted to buy them before they get snapped up.
I offered to give it to her but she insisted on paying for them. So I simply made up a nominal rate for her.
I also had ample time and opportunity to talk to the other Singapore companies, and learn from their business experiences in China. I’ve been going to China regularly for a few years now, and this is the first time I recall fitting in so quickly.
There was no longer the sense of culture shock. Many things are done differently here, but I am no longer astonished at them.
Interacting with the Chinese employees of Singapore companies after the show closes at 5pm also gave me a different perspective.
China is just so big and full of surprises.