Sunderland firm buys slice of Chinese supply chain

Nick Morton of TRM.,  Zuer Qi from Harbin and Coun Harry Trueman,
Nick Morton of TRM., Zuer Qi from Harbin and Coun Harry Trueman,
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Sunderland manufacturer Thermal Resources Management has organised its own Chinese takeaway.

The firm has bolstered its supply chain in China by snapping up a 40 per cent share in a Shanghai-based joint venture with sister company MICC (Mineral Insulated Cables Company).

The Chinese operation includes a manufacturing plant in Hefei, where it is seeking local suppliers to reduce the costs of exporting components from the UK.

The temperature measurement equipment and fireproof cabling specialist manufactures products used in the oil and gas, automotive, aviation and electronics industries.

TRM has further strengthened its links with China by welcoming a student Zuer Qi, who has joined the company on placement through the Sunderland-Harbin friendship agreement and has been tasked with researching the suppliers and providing feedback to TRM.

The 19-year-old comes from Harbin and is in the UK studying accounting and finance at Manchester University.

It’s good to get first-hand experience of work while you are an undergraduate and to get to know a company. My course teaches the theory but you don’t have the chance to use your knowledge.

Zuer Qi

TRM director Nick Morton said: “We have only been manufacturing in China in serious quantities since the start of the year and we have 60 to 70 staff there.

“The factory makes mineral insulated cables – specialist heating cables – some of which we will use. But because it’s a joint venture, we are giving them technical assistance to address the substantial market in China and elsewhere in Asia.

“The City Council’s business investment team has been has been very helpful from the outset. Tom Hurst, the chief investment officer, was superb in arranging meetings in Harbin, which helped set up the facility in China, giving us enhanced access to one of the largest and most rapidly growing markets in the world.

“Zuer is aiming to get a feel for the size and type of companies, and I’ve asked for her impressions about the way they present themselves, their professionalism, and whether they are state-owned or young entrepreneurial companies.

Nick Morton of TRM.,  Zuer Qi from Harbin and Coun Harry Trueman,

Nick Morton of TRM., Zuer Qi from Harbin and Coun Harry Trueman,

“I’m very interested in an outsider’s view of the impression these companies make.”

The project is giving Zuer an opportunity to work hands-on for TRM and gain an insight into how the growing company operates: “It’s good to get first-hand experience of work while you are an undergraduate and to get to know a company.

“My course teaches the theory but you don’t have the chance to use your knowledge.”