Qingdao to Jinan (250 miles)

Today I want to give you a closer look at the truck accompanying us during the Chinese leg of the tour.

I think the truck was a great idea on the part of the igus China team; it seems to be attracting a lot of people. Both the car and truck together draws a huge crowd. Basically, it’s just a normal truck that has been modified so it can be turned into a trade show booth in about 5 minutes! The truck is big enough that we can showcase a wide range of products.

For our customers, we offer the “whole package.” On the truck, not only can someone have a direct look at our products, but also have time to talk one-on-one with product experts.

Qingdao to Jinan (250 miles)

Every day, dozens of potential customers are giving us their contact details in order to learn more about our products, as well as receive the now famous igus cups as a reward!

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Usually, after visiting the booth, the visitors turn their attention to the iglide on tour project. For everyone, we offer a quick drive in the car. Most people think the tour is a great idea, but often add that it must be a real adventure to drive this particular kind of car across all the places we’ll encounter on the tour.

Two days ago, we arrived at the Yellow Sea on the coast of Qingdao. To be honest, I hadn’t heard of this city before, but I learned it is a famous beach vacation mecca for Chinese and other Asian tourists. I can tell that this city is growing fast; all around is construction.

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The city has a very nice beach. I imagine that it must get totally overcrowded here in the summer months. Even though it is winter, the beach is still filled with People.

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In Qingdao, we met with one of our suppliers who delivers goods to us for our exhibitions; guess what his name is and where he’s from?!

Sascha Kurtenbach was born in Cologne, but has been living in China for about 10 years. Although he speaks the language fluently, he explained to me that he only know about 3,500 written symbols, which isn’t enough for him to read a local newspaper. He told me most Chinese people know about 5,000 symbols, and someone like a university professor would know about 10,000. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to learn this language; so far everything sounds the same to me.

In my last post I told you I wanted to introduce you to the people helping us along our world tour. As the truck was in focus today, I’ll let you meet its driver, Mr. Wang.

Mr. Wang is 35 years old and a father of two children. He is from Henan province, where we will be traveling soon to visit a famous temple. Even though he has been working as a driver for more than a decade, Mr. Wang says he’s never seen a truck like ours. I asked my colleague to ask his opinion about the tour and the truck. Mr. Wang said it is special to be a part of a project like this one, where he gets to do more than just driving. When the truck has been transformed into the display booth, he helps us hand out information and talks with customers, guiding them to the right person to answer their questions. A great member of our team!

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That’s all from Eastern China so far, I’ll keep you up to date!

-Sascha

Finally on the road in China!

I still can’t believe that we really made it. We are finally on the road, with the iglide car DRIVING!

Let me tell you about what happened. Last Tuesday, we went to pick up the driving approval permit, but instead of handing it over, the police administrator told us our case had hit some complications and she wasn’t going to be able to give us the permit. If we wanted to drive, then we would have to obtain a document from the ministry of transport in Beijing.

What the igus China team pulled off was remarkable! They spent the rest of the day Tuesday in state offices while our guys in Shanghai, with help from the offices in Germany, worked day and night to modify all our paperwork. By Friday evening we were still unsure if we’d get the permit, but on Saturday morning we got it – just in time for the trip!

The igus China team had prepared a show truck to travel along with the iglide car to our customer visits. The truck is like its own tradeshow booth, with displays and information on our products, not to mention the free samples and gifts everyone loves about shows! Unfortunately, the truck left for Qingdao while we were waiting on the car’s permits. We had to get the car on the road quickly to catch up, but I wasn’t about to leave Shanghai without a few pictures of the iglide car driving downtown!

We are now on the way to Qingdao. The city is located near the Yellow Sea, and is one of the major harbors in the country. With 8 million people, the city is only considered to be medium size here. They laughed when I told them that Berlin is our largest city with only 3.5 million people! Qingdao is historically tied with Germany, as it was a German colony until 1914. A German brewery was even built here in 1903. That beer is now very famous here – a Chinese name, but the beer is the same 😉 Its sold here under the name “Tsingtao.” Perhaps it’s due to the comfortable distance of a Germany brewery that a German supplier for igus China is living here too, or maybe its just a coincidence. Anyways, We are going to meet him in the evening.

I would like to start using the blog as a platfor to introduce you to some of the people working for igus and on the iglide world tour. I’ll start today with Carte. Carte is 30 years old, and has worked with igus since 2011. He is working across China with automotive customers, and he’ll likely be with me for most of the Chinese tour. When I asked him what sporty activities he enjoys, he told me “Meeting customers.” It’ll be great to be tagging along to customers with someone as passionate as he is! (Either that or he misunderstood me J)

Next time, I’ll tell you if the main street in Qingdao is still a German name!

Sascha