Tom Beard of Modern Machine Shop (mmsonline.com) sat down with Jimmy Chu, chairman and founder of Fair Friend Group (FFG) and published his interview in the IMTS 2016 Show Daily, a publication produced by Gardner Business Media’s Modern Machine Shop.
While some North Americans may be unfamiliar with the company, Chu has acquired his way to building FFG into one of the world’s leading machine tool concerns. With last year’s acquisition of MAG IAS (Germany), the Taiwan-based FFG now ranks third globally, Chu says, and he’s by no means done yet.
Among FFG’s portfolio are well-known brands such as Germany’s Huller Hille, Hessap and VDF Boehringer; Ikegai and Sugino (Japan); Jobs and Rambaudi (Italy); as well as Fair Friend and Feeler (Taiwan). Chu says, in total, FFG holds 19 companies, 39 brands and 58 factories located across 10 countries. Industry insiders will recall FFG negotiating to buy Doosan Infracore (Korea) last year, a deal ultimately scuttled by the Korean government, Chu says. He is currently working on the acquisition of a well-known Japanese builder but cannot yet disclose the name.
Chu says his acquisition strategy includes three major components: level of technology, served markets and covering the full range of technology within the company. Essentially, Chu wants to serve the whole world—both in terms of geography and industry—with products that span the range of cost and technological capabilities. For example, with the acquisition of MAG, Chu considers FFG now to be the world’s leading player in high-volume automotive machining. The Jobs acquisition was similarly aimed at aerospace, where the company also has a strong footprint, particularly in Asia and now Europe. This strategy, Chu says, allows the corporation to include niche products in the portfolio that would be very hard to support within a single broad-line builder.
Despite the global strategy, Chu is highly cognisant of cultural sensibilities of serving markets regionally, which is integral to the acquisition plan. “What works in Taiwan doesn’t work in Germany,” he says, and it’s critical to let the acquired companies retain their cultural identity in serving their customers. Moreover, he is keenly aware that brands matter, particularly in North America and Europe, and the strategy includes buying brands that resonate well in those markets.
So for those who weren’t aware of Jimmy Chu and his Fair Friend Group, hang on; you’ll be hearing a lot more about them in the near future.