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Temporary Factory Shutdowns End in Taiwan

Published August 11, 2009

TAICHUNG, Taiwan (BRAIN)—While most manufacturers escaped serious damage as Typhoon Morakot swept over Taiwan last weekend, most companies were forced to halt production for a few days as employees stayed home and electricity was cut.

The government declared last Friday an island-wide "typhoon day," said Lance Bohlen, general manager of Kore. That meant all public and private companies, including Kore Taiwan, were shut down. “Normally, the subsequent Saturday is a make-up day so all those workers will have a six-day work week,” he said.

Steve Fenton, Pro-Lite’s chief executive officer, said once his factory lost power he had to shut down. “We sent staff home early Thursday and they came back yesterday (Monday),” he said.

Fenton said Pro-Lite staff are working double shifts this week and production will be back on schedule by Friday. Pro-Lite manufactures a wide range of products ranging form carbon fiber rims to stems, seatposts, handlebars and other accessory items.

James Hu, a marketing representative for Giant, said the company’s structures sustained no damage and operations have returned to normal.

Other companies like Kind Shock, KMC, TaYa Chain and Alex Rims are located in the Tainan area south of Taichung and much closer to the devastating landslides that have left hundreds missing.

Most, like KMC, reported minor flood damage. Companies also reported some ready-to-ship cartons were soaked by torrential rain, as much as 56 inches in one day.

Fenton’s factory, which sits adjacent to a river gully, had much of its retaining wall washed away as well as sustaining some wind damage to the building. “We got hit hard. The water took away 12 meters of our land at our warehouse and wheel-building factory. We had spent a small fortune to rebuild the river gully and raise it banks higher and had added 1.5-meter-thick concrete linings,” he said.

“Our factory is right on the edge of the Daken Scenic area which is only 5 kilometers from downtown Taichung and, to be honest, it looks like it’s been used by NATO for bombing practice with huge gaps in the dense jungle swept away by mud slides. But by this time next year you won't even know it, since it will have grown back,” Fenton said in an email report.

Still, Fenton and others voiced concern over what may be hundreds of Taiwanese killed in mudslides that swept away several mountain villages in the southern part of the island.

(PHOTO by Steve Fenton)

—Marc Sani

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