CHENGDU: The world's third largest bearing producer, US-based Timken Co, announced yesterday it will invest 119 million yuan (US$15.06 million) to build an aerospace precision products manufacturing centre in Chengdu, the capital of Southwest China's Sichuan Province.
The centre will focus on sales, engineering support and customer service for a range of aerospace bearings and other precision products, said James Gresh, president of Timken in China. It will initially employ around 200 people in aerospace products manufacturing.
"This investment is directly tied to Timken's strategic initiatives to expand our presence in industrial markets in Asia, as well as to build an increasingly diverse portfolio of aerospace precision components and services worldwide," said Michael C. Arnold, president of Timken's Industrial Group.
The booming Chinese bearing market has attracted more and more foreign companies. SKF Group, the world's biggest bearing and seal maker said it aimed for further expansion in China after completing a series of international acquisitions.
The Swedish company said it would add three manufacturing plants in China by the end of the year and will enter the truck market by the end of 2007.
With more mergers and acquisitions in the market, the takeover of the Luoyang Bearing Corporation, a leading bearing producer in China, by Germany-based Schaeffler Group, has drawn controversy.
Critics say the sale of such an important company to foreign firms may result in China losing its technology to foreign competitors.
Commenting on the Luoyang Bearing debate, Gresh said such concerns will not affect Timken's further investments in China.
The new Chengdu centre is the company's sixth plant in China. Its China headquarters is in Shanghai, and it has seven sales offices in the country.
"The Chinese market is our number one growth priority in the world," said Gresh. "In China we have been growing at a rate of more than 20 per cent each year and have aspirations to double our sales by the end of the decade."
Timken started its Yantai plant, the first of its manufacturing centres in China, in 1996. Now it has grown its China team to more than 3,500 associates, who represent an important part of its 27,000 associates worldwide, said Gresh.
Last year the company's global sales rose to a record US$5.2 billion, over twice what it was three years before.
The company has also initiated several programmes to promote its brand in China. This year it started a unique art design competition to encourage China's engineering students to showcase their creativity.
Its social activities in China also included the Special Olympics, which will hold their world games in China in 2007, and ongoing support for educational charity.
Source: China Daily