THE ETERNAL FATHER’S DREAM

After spending a lifetime constructing a masterpiece, some may do anything to keep it going. For others, a creation shouldn’t be a chain of limitation, but the foundation for continuous growth.

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When it comes to deciding upon a career, countless young souls feel the gripping strain from making such an influential decision. The finality of it all can be sometimes practically incomprehensible for any person to consider, accept and move forward. Go one way and your life will take on a certain trajectory that may never readjust; choose another path and you may find yourself stuck in a nightmarish lasting career, or worse, without any promising occupation at all.

For Dennis Ou of ODennis Furniture, this decision-making process was actually quite simple because it never existed.

“When I was [growing up] in Taiwan, we had a small workshop and I was expected to help since I was 12 years old, until my father moved the factory to the Mainland. It was very naturally assumed that after finishing my studies, I would go work in the factory and follow in my father’s footsteps. That’s what everyone was expecting me to do,” said Mr. Ou.

Those times, now already many years in the past, seem to be described as reflexively as explaining basic mathematics. It was the path of least resistance and luckily over time, both he and the company around him continue to evolve and progress.

“My father founded the company in Taiwan in 1995 and at that time, the factory only sold raw materials and did some OEM work. Back then, the Mainland market was not fully developed and the technologies and materials were still relying on Taiwan. I later came to China in 2001 to oversee the company’s major transition into a trading company,” he explained.

When the company first entered the Mainland market, the industrial zone was still very much developing, a stark contrast of what appears today. Remember, it wasn’t all that long ago that Dongguan was mostly wide open space, still unknown were the roads packed with honking cars and bustling shopping malls. Expansion was unavoidable and business was good.

This flourishing couldn’t last forever, though. Times have indeed changed.

“Labor, property, salaries and rent costs have all been rising steadily for years. We now think that Mainlanders have the money to consume finished goods. To keep growing, our company needed to build creative products for the consumer to buy,” he mentioned as I glanced around the sprawling showroom. It’s a sight to be seen, no doubt, with countless bedroom sets waiting to be fitted into some upscale, downtown apartment.

I have three kids and I don’t want them to do what I do. I know how it is because I’ve been through it. To me, I really didn’t think of doing anything else. For my kids, I want them to do what they want.

What seemed like a simple idea as it was explained really required considerable planning and coordination, though. His company made parts of a whole for as long as it existed. Over the years, a creeping idea hatches wondering if the company switched to finishing products, rather than producing the raw parts, could they be better? Confidence overtakes doubt and then suddenly one day, something clicks and a bet on luck means a shift up to the next level. I asked him what this was like.

“It was all very difficult. Before, we only needed to fulfill a buyer’s needs and now, we need to heavily research the market and think about the price. Today, we need to do it all and see if [the people] like it or not. This is really the most difficult part,” he describes with a slight smile.

There’s a subtle confidence about Mr. Ou that makes you feel calm, but also subtly excited, and why not? The building—amply filled will products—the workers and the brand name are all the genesis of his lifelong effort. How could he not be flooded with pride?

I momentarily thought about how fortunate his children must feel to have an experienced businessman for a father and a booming company of which to someday join. I admittedly felt a trace of jealousy for their fortune.

“I have three kids and I don’t want them to do what I do. I know how it is because I’ve been through it. To me, I really didn’t think of doing anything else. For my kids, I want them to do what they want,” he mentions with hope in his eyes. The departure from his own father’s intentions at first seems strange until you realize it’s about love. Business, money and opportunity are never far away if you’re happy.

After both a grandfather and father’s continuous effort, a third generation is set to spring even higher. The China of today is often precisely defined by this scenario, with the freedom to explore new ideas and create striking innovations to change the world.

We are living in exciting times and these are the people who have enabled our limitless wonder and brought China back to greatness.