The Road Has To Be Made If It Cannot Be Found After Years of Exploration!
If the Road Doesn’t Exist, Create Your Own
Amid the current employment situation in which many young jobseekers pursue their goal of landing a job as a government employee or a highly-paid job with a large company, HIG has established itself as a conventional manufacturer with the dream of creating a greater, better world. As an entrepreneur in his mid-twenties, who once engaged in NC data modeling, CEO Jaehyeok Ju founded HIG and, twenty years later, his company has become a leading mold manufacturer - including large molds for the manufacturing of automotive panels, doors, and trunks, with over 80% of its sales originating from exports to Japan. CEO Ju revealed the secrets to his company’s remarkable growth: taking on ceaseless challenges, securing product quality and reliability, and establishing good interpersonal relationships.
At the Age of 26, An Entrepreneur Survives in a New Environment
A young entrepreneur named Jaehyeok Ju was the man behind the mystery of KRW 4 billion in annual sales. Ju launched his company alone and eventually began manufacturing large molds. His success story is remarkable enough to inspire a spirit of enterprise in the minds of young people who face serious unemployment difficulties, as that is also the story of CEO Ju himself.
Jaehyeok Ju quit Kia Motors when the company was merged with another company. He went to Gyeongsan in 1997, where he restarted his life at the age of 26. Using the eight months of salary that he received upon resigning from his former company, he launched a ﬁrm based on modeling software, manufactured molds using subcontractors, and supplied them to his clients, thereby managing to continue his business.
According to CEO Ju: “Since a subcontractor orders vary depending on the contractor, I had to diversify the sales structure to stabilize my business.” As the owner of a new firm, he began to aggressively penetrate the Japanese market. He installed agents in Japan to secure customers, and invested intensively in his operations there. But people around him cast a suspicious eye on him, believing that he was running a loss-making business. CEO Ju said: “Without generating sales, my ﬁrm invested an average of KRW 100 million per year for six years, giving the people around me cause for concern. But this period laid the foundation that today generates 80% of my ﬁrm’s sales, in other words, the sales coming from my exports to Japan.” During that challenging period, HIG endeavored to broaden its markets and to execute diverse government-assigned projects based on industry-university cooperation. Ju even acquired patents related to the molding of lightweight and high-strength steel plates, in preparation for a solid growth base.
Powerful Equipment Is the Key to Manufacturing Large Molds
HIG saw the limitations of using subcontractors to satisfy its customers with its molds, and consequently established its own factory in December 2014. CEO Ju stated: “With the financial support of the government, we established a factory, even though we would have to repay the ﬁnance later. We constructed the necessary infrastructure, which allowed us to win more orders, in the belief that we could eventually increase our sales of KRW 200-300 million from exports to Japan to KRW 4 billion. And that was a turning point for our growth.”
With the establishment of the factory, CEO Ju planned to buy the necessary machines, taking on yet another challenge. “When manufacturing large molds, the frames of the machines must be strong enough to allow a high degree of accuracy and uniform manufacturing dimensions; so powerful machines are the first-priority purchase requirement,” stated Ju. “In addition, we had not only to secure a large size manufacturing capacity but also to be capable of machining diverse shapes ﬂexibly. We also had to be capable of achieving high-precision surface finishes.”
Thus, CEO Ju gave long and serious thought to his decision on purchasing the machines, by closely comparing foreign-produced and homegrown machines. He finally chose Doosan’s multitasking double-column machining center, the DCM, which is capable of machining larger work pieces compared to other machines in the same class. With a wide choice of ram spindles and diverse automatic-change head attachments depending on the machining requirements, the DCM can not only manufacture molds and perform five-side machining, but also perform free form machining by at least one degree division, machining of complex and diverse shapes, and simultaneous 5-axis machining capable of 0.001-degree division increments.
Notably, the DCM boasts the 5-face machining support system, which is convenient for machining large-size work pieces, and the intelligent machining control and monitoring function, which is designed to enable over 8 hours of non-stop machining, thereby eliminating the need for one worker to man each machine. This is of great help to small and medium-size ﬁrms facing manpower difﬁculties and declining proﬁtability.
HIG took two years to optimize the DCM to its current operating conditions. CEO Ju stated: “All machines take a certain amount of time after being set up to properly perform in their respective manufacturing environments. To boost the effectiveness of such machines, we need good cutting tools and peripheral devices. Moreover, we check the machines’ accuracy frequently. When we installed Doosan’s machines, we had to make a lot of effort to adjust them to our working environment, but after a testing period, we stabilized the machines and made them suitable for our manufacturing requirements. In this stabilizing process, the most important thing is the ability to respond to after-sales requests.” He added that Doosan offered quick and efficient after-sale services, making it possible to shorten the test period. Currently, HIG owns two DCMs.
Young HIG Ceaselessly Takes on Challenges
After establishing a branch in the Philippines, HIG expanded into the design area earlier this year and bolstered its CAD/CAM design specialist team. CEO Ju stated: “We entered the Philippines mainly because of labor costs, but if we send excellent domestic human resources to educate the local people, it will eventually create a good opportunity, and we should eventually be able to establish factories to expand our large-mold volume. In 2018, we will complete the construction of our factories in the Philippines to make our Filipino branch the hub entry to Asian markets.”
As Mazda, Toyota and other Japanese automakers look set to start the production of new vehicles in the second half of this year, 2016 will be a busy year for HIG. Towards the end of last year, HIG won orders for the manufacturing of large molds from Malaysia, and expects an estimated KRW 10 billion in sales for this year. Ju added: “Without the manufacturers, there would be no service businesses, and the country’s economy would lose competitiveness. To create strong small and medium-size ﬁrms and viable conventional manufacturers, we should find ways of generating future growth and development. If there is no existing path, we will have to create our own road.” People are sure to applaud this entrepreneur in his mid-forties who entered the business as a bold young man in his twenties, taking on various difﬁcult challenges but succeeding in the end. He now sees great hopes and dreams lying ahead of him.