2.Obstacles and Solutions
Written by Mu-en Lee

When Mr. Tsung-wen Chen took over the rice drying business founded by his father, he was not too sure. He then thought about how Taiwan was built with agriculture and people need food. He embarked on a career in rice drying with a belief that this business is here to stay.

As the second-generation owner of Fenggu Company, Mr. Tsung-wen Chen has encountered many difficulties and challenges. The funding problem during the early stage of transformation forced Fenggu Company to take a hard look at its business model. They spoke with one bank after another for borrowing. In the meantime, Mr. Tsung-wen Chen leveraged his professional knowledge as a graduate from the Department of Mechanical Design and gradually improved the factory layout and pipes, so that there was room to accommodate large dryers, wet rice barrels, windmills, sieving machines, cooler barrels, and husk burners for heating purpose. This resolved the problem of inadequate equipment and greatly improved the rice drying capability and quality. The factory started with simple rice drying machinery and it is now a large, smooth and modernized facility.

Mr. Tsung-wen Chen shares the ups and downs of the expansion process

As the facilities and the business continued to expand, Fenggu Company is confronted with the difficulty of keeping up its workforce. To maintain its service quality, Fenggu Company only hires employees with meticulous attention to details. Its team has grown from three people in the early days to ten people at the present. Fenggu Company has great hopes for its future.

Over time goes by, more and more farming lands have given way to manufacturing facilities and high rises. As a result, the output of rice has declined significantly and the competition in the rice business is fierce. To respond to the changing environment, Fenggu Company establishes good relations with peers. They share experience and consult each other for business challenges. During the harvesting seasons, Fenggu Company even outsources to other rice drying factories and refer buyers/sellers to each other. Whilst all the other industries are in a doldrum and engulfed in an unhealthy competition, Fenggu Company has created a blue ocean in the red seas.

In fact, family members had differing opinions in how the business should have been run. The biggest challenge to date was a disappointing market and the resulting oversupply amid difficulties in distribution. However, the second-generation owner communicated with family members and created selling points for Fenggu Company’s services. This attracted farmers to sell rice to Fenggu Company for drying and resale. The quality products then attracted buyers and resolved the problem in rice selling.

During all these testing times over the past 30 years, Fenggu Company remains committed to its mission statement of providing assuring service to farmers and quality rice to buyers. It will continue to deliver on this principle. Mr. Tsung-wen Chen said: "The happy looks of farmers give me a great sense of achievement."

Mr. Tsung-wen Chen working in the factory

2020.08.04, 2020.08.28, 2020.11.15 interview records

Source of photos:

Taken by our team member