Taiwanese products get U.S. introduction at Summerfest

Products on display near South Gate

Eric Huang, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Chicago, speaks at the opening of Taiwan Excellence at Summerfest.

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:11 pm

For many Summerfest attendees, the Big Gig is about music, cold beer and unique festival foods, but on the walk from the South Gate to the American Family Amphitheater you’ll also find the Taiwan Excellence Experience Zone, an exhibition of Taiwanese products and companies looking to find their way into the U.S. market.

More than 50 products are on display at the booth, everything from a phone-controlled dancing robot to a portable karaoke machine to a saxophone to haircare products to a massage chair. The products on display are all winners of the Taiwan Excellence Awards, which recognizes companies for innovative research and development, quality, design and marketing. They also serve as examples of domestic Taiwanese industries and are marketed internationally by the government to shape the image of the country’s businesses.

“This is a very good opportunity for us to show and we select the products to be exhibited here based on the need of the market,” said Eric Huang, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Chicago.

The arrival of Foxconn Technology Group, a Taiwanese firm, in the state has increased interest for Wisconsin companies to do business in Taiwan. BizTimes detailed best practices for expanding into Taiwanese markets in a recent magazine feature.

This year marks the third year Taiwanese products have been showcased at Summerfest. Huang said that Foxconn’s decision to build a facility in the state isn’t what is driving the exhibit. Instead, he said it is the popularity of Summerfest and the chance to market to families that makes it an attractive opportunity.

“We bring a lot of consumer products here to share with families,” he said. “Our goal is very clear, we value the market in the Midwest, very much.”

Huang noted that many Taiwanese firms are small or medium-sized businesses. In the past, many did manufacturing for other brand names, but programs like the Taiwanese Excellence Awards have encouraged them to grow their own products.

He also said the Taiwanese recognize the importance of products being made in America.

“We want to encourage our people to try it fist and if they have exposure here and they have a good market, then probably the next step for them is to come to the United States and invest,” he said.

Artemis Tsai, general manager of Shaan Honq International Cosmetics Corp., said that’s exactly what her company is looking to do.

The company, which makes a line of haircare products, has had a presence in the U.S. since 1996, but its 10-person office is relatively small compared to the 2,000 employees in Taiwan. Tsai would like to see the company’s presence in the U.S. grow, possibly with a 40-person testing lab.

“I really like it here,” she said of the U.S.

Wherever the lab goes, Tsai wants to expand in the U.S. market as the company shifts from a business-to-business model to more direct to consumer work.

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Arthur Thomas
Arthur covers manufacturing for BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.