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Two Chinaware Companies Stand Out

Posted February. 15, 2007 07:15,   


Haengnam Chinaware and Hankook Chinaware are famous for being companies that refrain from laying off workers. They stuck to this rule even during the financial crisis in 1998.

Haengnam Chinaware relocated its factory from Seokhyeon-dong, Mokpo, to Yeoju-gun, Gyeonggi Province, when Seokhyeon-dong was designated as a residential zone from industrial zone. One hundred workers were left without a job after the relocation. President Kim Yong-joo, 65, built a salted seaweed manufacturing company in Mokpo to absorb these workers.

The average age at Hankook Chinaware is 45. It is much higher than the average age of manufacturing workers at 37.5 (as of the end of 2005). “The ceramic industry requires precision and that is why we pride in our experienced workers,” explains Director Kim Moo-seong.

President Kim Young-shin of Hankook Chinaware even promised his father President Kim Dong-su, 71, not to lay off any workers when he received management control of the company.

Employees are like family-

The founder of Haengnam Chinaware, Former President Kim Jun-hyung, 90, launched a labor union in his company in 1963 to give the workers a chance to find their rights. “Former President Kim even persuaded his workers of the necessity of a labor union,” says Lee Byung-gun, team head at Haengnam Chinaware. He did so when even the concept of labor was not clear in Korea.

There has not been a single dispute between the management and the labor union. Trust between management and labor has been always high. Former President Kim visited labor union meetings every year, and his son, current President Kim Yong-ju, takes pains to explain the company’s management situation to the labor union.

There is no labor union at Hankook Chinaware.

“It is just the nature of our people. Our company is like a family. No one sees the need for a labor union,” says Director Kim Moo-seong of Hankook Chinaware. “We have also been based in Chungcheong Province for a very long time. Naturally, we have son and father workers, and workers who are related by blood.”

Salary negotiation is also very unique at Hankook Chinaware. The company asks workers to choose their desired salary. Then the company always pays workers more than they ask for.

Clean management-

Both these companies are managed by generations of families, but no one questions the integrity of these companies. Employees trust management in these companies.

President Kim Yong-joo of Haengnam Chinaware goes on several business trips abroad to grasp the business environment. He strictly separates his private expenditures from work-related expenditures. On work-related expenditure receipts, he writes detailed notes. “Our accounting team knows how President Kim spent every penny,” says an executive at Haengnam Chinaware.

During the financial crisis, the executives at Hankook Chinaware returned all the corporate credit cards to the company and used their own cars, instead of company cars. “Even now, with business going well, President Kim Dong-su still dines at cheap noodle restaurants,” says Director Kim Moo-seong.