So how did I get started in China?

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Well about 12 years ago, Avela Corporation (www.avela.com) was a “boutique advertising agency”. We had a small but loyal list of clients. Avela designed annual reports, brochures, corporate identities and radio and billboard advertising campaigns.

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Shanghai My first trip- 2002- G Young

One day I set an appointment with a business consultant/coach to see what he might have to offer as the business was stagnant. The thing I remember the most was a loaded question he asked me. “How many years of experience does your business have?” I proudly answered “12 years! His response was: “Did you ever stop to think that maybe it was 1 year of experience, 12 times? I hated that! I really hated that! Was it true? How many more brochures or annual reports or billboards did I need to design? Was this really what I wanted to do with my life, my company? I realized then, that I was more interested in business than design.

A couple of years later I joined the executive leadership group Vistage, (http://www.vistage.com/) known as TEC back in 2001. (Never did hire that coach.) We were looking for ways to bolster our value proposition and get more clients. My then TEC/Vistage chair Bill Peery was planning a trade mission to China. He said “you should go!” My reply was, why would I want to go to China? I am not going to be selling design to the Chinese. Bill said “I don’t know, but you should go!” Well, I did go. That was back in September of 2001. My life changed forever.

I was blown away. I thought I beamed down to another planet. China was so new, so big, so busy, so exotic, so much positive energy. What a place, what a culture, what people, what food! And it seamed like they made everything. I had never felt like this before. I liked this feeling. It was intoxicating. And like a flash, I had a vision of converting Avela Corporation from advertising to sourcing products and services in China.

One of my main contention about advertising campaigns was that they represented change. I was a change agent for my clients. I learned a long time ago that in order enact change, you power change down from the top. So I always worked with CEO’s and key executives. I was privy to all the issues these key executives were having within their companies; with supply chains, materials, distributors, manufacturers and more. And I thought; ‘Boy, I could source products and services in China and solve existing client issues.’ ‘I could change my company’s direction 180 degrees in a week.’

Well it took months, a lot of guts, some might say vision, but I did just that. Our first job in China was for $240,000 and I never looked back. We have been successfully sourcing products and services in China since the spring of 2002. And the good news is, that the words of that consultant/coach no longer haunt me. I found what I was suppose to do. I am leaving for my 33rd trip to China in mid March and I am as excited about this trip as I was on my first.

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Gary Young: Founder, President and CEO of the Avela Corporation Gary Young CEO of the Avela Corporation helps companies source produces and services in China with offices in Houston and Shanghai since 2002. Mr. Young’s experience extends from sourcing both commodities and unique OEM opportunities, to intense product development projects. His relationship with China extends into his personal life with his daughter-in-law Eva who is from Shanghai and the newest addition to the family Aiden ,who is presently learning English, Mandarin and Shanghainese. Mr. Young is a Vistage Member since 2001.

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