LUCHU, Taiwan – Taiwanese Smart Co. Ltd. – according to founder and GM Kevin Chen, “The largest LED bicycle light producer in the world” – closed its factory in Shenzhen, China and moved it to Taiwan. The new factory is located 15 kilometers from the company’s HQ (including factory) in Luchu, Taiwan. Production in the 3,000 square meter new facility started on 26 March.
In its peak time Smart’s Shenzhen factory employed about 400 people, says Chen. But this is a while ago, “After ceasing production there was just a small office and warehouse left.” The reasons to move the operation from China to Taiwan are for Kevin Chen easy to explain: “It’s the serious labour shortage combined with the yearly labour cost increase of 20 to 25 percent. It is all out of control.”
Taiwan production might be a more expensive. But nowadays lots of foreign workers are doing the labour intensive assembly operation for lights. Thanks to Taiwan’s foreign workers policy there are (as at Smart) lots of Thai, Philippine and Vietnam workers signing two to three year contracts which allow them to work and stay in Taiwan. Approximately 100 people are working at the Smart HQ and factory in Luchu while about 40 staff is at the recently opened new nearby facility.