The first book by a westerner who built a company in China from scratch
The emergence of China as a world economic power is one of the biggest stories of our time. Every business that intends to be an important part of the fast-changing global economy needs to know how to play the game in China. Who better to be your guide than Jack Perkowski, the pioneer who went to China in the early 1990s. Equipped with just a concept, he built a company step-by-step from the ground up–ASIMCO Technologies–that became a major player in China’s fast-growing automotive business.
Perkowski’s story is as rich, involving, and improbable as those of nineteenth-century titans such as Rockefeller and Carnegie or of twentieth-century ones like Michael Dell and Bill Gates, but with one obvious difference: They and others built their companies when America was emerging or dominant. Perkowski built his at the dawn of the Chinese century.
Perkowski’s insights about the challenges and potential of western involvement in today’s great Chinese expansion–gained on the ground in China itself over the past fifteen years–are of inestimable value and relevance to us all. For instance:
• The good news about China: Everything is possible. The bad news: Nothing is easy.
• To build a business in China, you must develop a local management team–avoiding both former bureaucrats of the state-run enterprises and the country’s new breed of wildcat entrepreneurs.
• You must learn the real reason why China is able to produce goods so cheaply.
• Forget your notions about the Chinese economy being rigidly controlled by Beijing–it is, in fact, highly decentralized and locally driven. As the Chinese say, “The mountains are high and the emperor is far away.”
Perkowski tells his story with clarity, lots of humor, and a gripping sense of adventure. He takes us along on his own version of the Long March, when he visited two factories a day for nine months, hitting every province, going through endless rounds of dinners and the inevitable drinking games, and eating what seemed like every part of every animal. He vividly describes what it’s like to be a westerner living and working in China and the dramatic transformation he’s seen in the country, from a place left behind by the modern world to a place where a new world is being born.
Filled with hard-nosed lessons for anyone with ambitions of breaking into the Chinese market, and a rich source of practical wisdom about the realities of China today, Managing the Dragon answers the questions people ask Perkowski most often about his unique experience, as well as those they never think of asking–but should.
From the Hardcover edition.
About Jack Perkowski
JACK PERKOWSKI was a working-class kid from western Pennsylvania who got a football scholarship to Yale and went on to a successful career as an investment banker for Paine Webber. After twenty years on Wall Street, he asked himself whether he had the guts to do something completely different. He chucked his New York City lifestyle and bet the farm on China at a time when it was seen as an emerging economy, not the powerhouse it is today. He is now chairman and CEO of ASIMCO Technologies, among China’s largest automobile components makers, with twelve thousand employees in seventeen plants in eight provinces.
“If you want to do business in China, Jack Perkowski is your man. In Managing the Dragon he takes you into the heart of the Middle Kingdom and shows you the way with insight, humor, and the kind of practical advice an entrepreneur or a down-home tourist needs to navigate this fascinating and often bewildering colossus of a country.”
“I’ve just finished Managing the Dragon, which I thought was fantastic. I was riveted by it. I cannot believe what Jack Perkowski has accomplished and what an adventure he’s had, how he lived through it, how he’s succeeded, and how well written his book is. It reads somewhere between a novel, a how-to book, and a primer on a second business life in a developing country.”
“I love Jack Perkowski’s book. It tells, with some bravado and lots of humility, the firsthand story of a man who dared himself to move to China to seize upon the greatest economic boom of our age. Perkowski invites us into his world, into the blur of business meetings and friendships, hirings, firings, and onto China’s shop floors. He reveals what it took to build a world-class manufacturing company in a country where you need to set firm goals but reach them in an environment where the rules and circles of influence shift daily. Managing the Dragon is more than a manual, more than a memoir; it is a gift from a seasoned friend offering the keys to his wisdom and experience.”
—Ted C. Fishman, author of China, Inc.: How the Rise of the Next Superpower Challenges America and the World
“Managing the Dragon is more than a great story about Jack Perkowski and his courage to move to the new frontier; it is a graduate degree in the trials, tribulations, and successes of starting from scratch in China. Jack captures the essence of doing business in China and turns it into a very compelling ‘how-to’ guide.”
—Timothy Manganello, CEO of BorgWarner, Inc.
From the Hardcover edition.