|HBE Officials Given VIP Treatment|
Wearing two hats as officials of TJI International and HBE, President Larry Horist, Vice President Jill Horist and Executive Assistant Xiong Her traveled to Harbin at the end of April with several missions in mind: (1) to engage in planning future operations of HBE (which TJI International manages), (2) participate in the official opening ceremonies for the new Wanda Mall in the heart of Harbin, and (3) participate in meetings involving specific investment opportunities. In addition to HBE, TJI-I is involved in a joint venture partnership with Brown's Chicken & Pasta to establish a Hollywood-theme American-style restaurant next to a new movie theater in the new mall.
The mall is among the largest in northeast China, and is anchored by Wal-Mart, Parkson (China's major department store chain) and Warner Bros. 8-screen movie theater. Though this was the official opening, Wal-Mart and Warner Bros. have been operating. Early indications suggest that the Wanda Mall will be an enormous success. Already, Warner Bros. revenues at the mall are greater than all the movie theater operations in Harbin combined, and is already the 12th highest grossing movie theater in China. The future success is seen in the massive crowds that visit the area each day.
Mayor Shi Zhong Xin presided over the ceremonies, which included a host of government and business dignitaries. The TJI-I officials joined Mr. Ira Stiegler, of Warner Bros., Mr. Ben Cornish, Vice President (China) for Wal-Mart, and Mr. Low Kim Tuan, Chief Operating Officer-Northern China for Parkson as honored guests.
|Hollywood Foodcourt Progresses|
In addition to the festive mall opening, the TJI-I team
had a number of important activities relating to plans for the
Hollywood Food Court. First was the signing of the Cooperative Intention Agreement with Mr.
Ding Yao, of the Wanda company; and the presentation of the
initial 157,000 RMB (Approximately $20,000 USD). The group also
interviewed several architectural firms. A government affairs adviser,
Mr. Xie Yi Ying, was retained to assist in getting through the Chinese
regulatory procedures for a new enterprise. Mr. Xie is a former
Harbin judge and law
professor. A prospective food service manager,
Mr. Yu (Gino) Yang, was interviewed. Mr. Yu has had more than 5 years experience in
opening and operating food establishments. The group looked for
living quarters for future visits, and to serve as a guest residence for
associates. One of the most dramatic is an historic city-owned
Russian cottage on the shore of the Songhua River, within walking
distance of the mall. They also had time to visit potential
vendors for equipment supplies and food products.
|Investment and Business Activities|
Keeping up a hectic schedule, the TJI-I contingent carried out a number of other business activities. One of the more important meetings was with Mr. Li Wei, the newly appointed Vice Director of the Harbin Economic and Cooperative Promotion Bureau (HECPB), formerly the Harbin Foreign Investment and Administration Bureau (HFIAB). The purpose of the meeting was the renewal of the TJI-I agreement to operate HBE as an official representative of Harbin in the United States. Both parties agreed that the HBE should continue with the cooperation and support of HECPB.
As is often their happy custom, the Horists enjoyed the company of Mrs. Xie Yingmei, of the Party Consultancy. She was involved in the hosting and planning of several of the festive dinners for the HBE visitors.
Staying at the Songhuajiang Plaza Hotel was not only a luxurious pleasure, it involved a great business opportunity. Mrs. Wang Guilan, owner of the hotel, is seeking a U.S. partner. The 84-room luxury boutique hotel was built last year, and enjoys the most prominent location on Flood Monument Plaza. Mrs. Wang, a good friend of the Horists, hosted several banquets for the HBE/TJI-I contingent.
Larry, David and Xiong hosted lunch for Mr. Wang, and long-time friend who was recently promoted from the Municipal Promotion and Reform Commission to the provincial-level commission. They discussed many investment projects, including power plants, water treatment and monorail transportation.
In meetings with Mrs. Sun Yun Lah, the group was updated regarding the progress of her nationwide cosmetics company. She also hosted several dinners, one with a group of Harbin dignitaries who visited Chicago in 2000.
Mr. Zhang Yi Fei, new Assistant Director of the Harbin Economic and Technological Development Zone, hosted a dinner for the Horist party in order to introduce Mr. Michael Whelton, who recently moved to Harbin to oversee operations of the new McCain food processing facility. Also attending were HBE's old friends, Mr. Ji Ping and Mrs. Xia Ren Wen (Ronnie).
|An Amazing Anniversary|
There was a personal side to
the visit. When it was discovered the Horists would be
spending their 13th wedding anniversary in Harbin, their many
friends organized a round of parties, and provided bouquets, cakes
and gifts. Jill said it was more like a wedding than an anniversary.
No one will accuse the HBE crew of being "all work and no
fun." Who said 13 is unlucky?
The anniversary was an ongoing party. The morning started with more than 150 roses, gifts and a note to Jill from Larry, Xiong and David.
Copyright © 2005 Harbin Business Exchange, Inc.