The grand opening ceremony for the new $18 million manufacturing facility for Stahl Coatings and Fine Chemicals (Suzhou) Co Ltd took place on Friday, September 8, immediately following the All China Leather Fair, in the presence of an audience of over 500 invited guests from China and South East Asia.

Visitors were greeted by two fearsome, protective dragons at the main entrance and the sounds of electronic violin music as they found their seats for the ceremony. In his welcoming speech, Frank Policky stated: ‘I am proud and pleased to be present at the start of another Stahl venture, our ninth manufacturing facility in the world. This factory here in Suzhou is a further key step in Stahl’s creation of centres of excellence to serve the leather and coatings industry worldwide. The building of the facility in Suzhou affirms our confidence in the dynamic growth of the Chinese market and our commitment to support our customers, without whose support this investment would not have been possible, and we look forward to their continuing commitment.’

Guests were invited to listen to a series of short speeches congratulating Stahl on the success of the construction project and wishing the Suzhou factory all the best for the future. These were given by Madam Zhang Shu Hua (vice chairman of the China Leather Industries Association), Alfredo Aymami (general manager of Stahl Coatings and Fine Chemicals, Suzhou), Jan Van Weijen (Consulate General of The Netherlands), Wong Chi Lung (Sincere Trading Company), Zhou Xiao Song (Kasen Holdings) and Madam Yang Shuqing (CEO of Zibo DaHaunjiu Polygrace Leather Group).

A speech from Rodney Hammond, executive vice president of Stahl Asia Pacific, echoed the sentiments of Frank Policy and others. In this he said: ‘Our investment in China is only possible due to the continued support of our customers and the unwavering commitment of our key agents.

‘Our promise to our customers and agents is that Stahl Coatings and Fine Chemicals will be relentless in becoming our customers’ first choice. SCFC will help them create more value than our competitors. SCFC employees will deliver products of outstanding quality and competitive costs and are committed to continuous improvement by working together as a team in safe and environmentally-friendly ways that are faster and smarter.’

The speeches were concluded by Madame Eileen Wang (SND Vice Chairman).

As required for any new company setting up in China, these speeches were followed by three Chinese cultural ceremonies, which commenced with Frank Policky and Eileen Wang participating in painting the lion’s eyes, a tradition that brings the lions to life so that the company will flourish and prosper. Lions are also the oriental symbol of good luck and happiness. The second ceremony was that of pouring water into a crystal container bearing the Stahl logo until it was full. This also signifies prosperity and wealth. Finally, all twelve VIP guests participated in the traditional ceremony of cutting the golden ball.

Visitors were given extensive guided tours of the factory before they departed for a lunch reception at the Shangrila Suzhou. Here they were able to view a mini exhibition in the Shangrila Ballroom showcasing the products and services that will be provided by the new plant.

Stahl plan to produce some 17,000 tonnes of product per year from the new plant, initially including acrylics, pigments and lacquer emulsions for the leather and shoe industries and surface coatings for the flexible substrate industry.