China's Lenovo to add production line in US
By Zhang Yuwei, China Daily/Asia News Network
October 5, 2012, 3:36 pm TWN
RALEIGH, North Carolina -- The Chinese computer maker Lenovo Group Ltd., the world's No. 2 maker of PCs, said on Tuesday that it will begin manufacturing computers in North Carolina next year — its first United States production line and one that could add 115 jobs in the state.
Starting next year, workers at the facility in Whitsett — an hour's drive from Lenovo's main U.S. offices outside the Raleigh-Durham technology hub — will assemble Think-branded notebooks and desktop PCs, tablets, engineering workstations and servers for business, government and education customers in the U.S.
"This is an opportunity for North Carolina to keep some manufacturing force, not just in the United States but globally," U.S. Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina said as company executives announced the move.
Chairman and CEO Yang Yuanqing said Lenovo determined that the "long-term strength" and growth potential of the PC market in the United States outweighed the relatively high labor cost in domestic manufacturing.
"As Lenovo expands globally, we are establishing even deeper roots in each major market," Yang said in a statement issued by the company about its US$2 million investment.
In addition to localized sales and marketing, Yang said, Lenovo is investing in research and development while stepping up local hiring in its major markets, including the U.S. This approach will help the computer company become "even faster, more innovative and more responsive" to customers around the world, he said.
North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue called the move by Lenovo "a tremendous vote of confidence in the great skills and productivity" of her state's work force.
"The decision by Lenovo — done without public incentives — clearly demonstrates that North Carolina is an attractive place for leading global businesses to locate and expand," Perdue said at Tuesday's announcement event.
The Democratic governor, who led trade delegations of state officials and business executives to China in 2009 and 2011, said Chinese investment could create more opportunities and boost the statewide economy.
The state has moved from an economy reliant on tobacco farming and furniture-making to a more diversified base of engineering, biotechnology and financial services. The U.S. recession that ended in 2009, but whose effects are still coursing through the U.S. economy, left North Carolina with a 9.7-percent unemployment rate — higher than the national average.
Lenovo in 2005 bought the PC division of International Business Machines Corp. and last year surpassed Hewlett-Packard Co. as the second-biggest maker of personal computers, with Dell Inc. at No. 1.
The company, which has "co-headquarters" in Beijing and Morrisville, North Carolina, employs about 27,000 people worldwide. Lenovo's U.S.-based staff totals 2,100, about 90 percent of whom were hired locally; the current facility in Whitsett has about 160 workers engaged in order-fulfillment and distribution.
"Since the recession hit — which impacted a lot of companies, not only in the U.S., but around the world — we've added a significant amount of opportunities in the last couple of years in the Raleigh-Research Triangle area," said David Schmoock, president of Lenovo North America.