Family-Owned, Globally Positioned
Industrial machinery company Tuson Corporation of Vernon Hill, Illinois provides manufacturing, engineering, and supply chain solutions. The company offers custom component manufacturing, contract machining, assembly services, and more to industries that use electric motors, hydraulics, and pneumatic equipment.
Officially established in 1987, the company’s roots reach back to the late seventies when founder Roger Tu moved to the United States. Aiming to find work in the manufacturing industry, he realized that there was a significant Japanese influence on how American companies were operating.
Tu believed that learning the Japanese language and approach to manufacturing would give him an advantage in the job market, and decided to move to Japan to attend a college there. While living in Japan, he connected with a man who owned a Japanese manufacturing company. Tu was very motivated and he was able to convince the man to hire him to work at his company.
Over the next eight years, Tu learned a great deal about manufacturing steel components for the United States market, but in 1985, a major economic shift caused the company’s leadership to change its course. The United States and Japan both signed the Plaza Accord, which was designed to depreciate the value of the U.S. dollar in relation to the Japanese yen. For Japanese companies that sold products to the American market, these new circumstances would result in significant losses. The company for which Tu had been working decided to change direction from exporting its steel products to the States to importing industrial software from the States to Japan. Tu was consulted as to which direction he wanted to take, and chose to stay on steel products and establish Tuson, inheriting the business from the company.
By this time, Tu had developed a great deal of experience, and he believed that he could use his expertise to build a business in the steel component manufacturing sector. It was a risky endeavor, but he returned to America and after many trials, built Tuson Corporation from that dream.
Today, Tuson is a global company employing more than four hundred people. It has over 200,000 square feet of operating space in two state-of-the-art Chinese manufacturing facilities, and a headquarters in Vernon Hills, Illinois. The company provides its customers with a wide range of custom components, assemblies, and sub-assemblies and offers services that include machining, finishing, inspection, testing, warehousing, and more.
Recently, the company has been working to refocus a significant portion of its sales effort from the United States market to the Chinese domestic market. When United States President Donald Trump began setting tariffs and other trade barriers on China in 2018, Tuson was affected substantially. Growth for products imported from China to the United States quickly sunk into negatives, which had an enormous impact on the company’s competitiveness and ability to remain profitable in the U.S. market.
Tuson’s leadership quickly realized that in order to survive the company would have to shift its focus to the Chinese domestic market. In 2016, one hundred percent of its sales were to customers in the United States, but today that number has been reduced to roughly twenty-five percent. The remaining seventy-five percent of sales are to customers in China, and a substantial portion of those are to the construction equipment manufacturing industry.
Currently, the companies that build construction equipment in China import most of their critical components from Japan and Germany. Tuson’s strategy is to compete in that market by manufacturing those components domestically in its Jiaxing facility. By offering those customers a domestic option, all the additional costs related to international transport can be eliminated, and Tuson expects to be able to replace Japanese and German suppliers in that market.
“Infrastructure continues to be built in China, so the construction machinery market has great potential for the coming years. Especially because a lot of the hydraulic products for building construction machinery are so dependent on imports to China. We will be very busy replacing these imported products for many years to come,” says President Roger Tu.
To operate effectively in China, Tuson realized that it would need to build a network within the region. The company has a quality product to bring to the Chinese marketplace, but according to Tu, getting a foothold in China requires making an alliance with domestic businesses that can help the company connect with customers.
Tuson has been working diligently to build relationships with domestic Chinese partners and as a result, the company has been able to move seventy-five percent of its business there in recent years. The company hopes that this focus on developing key partnerships will continue to ease the transition into China.
So far, it seems to be working. Recently, it showcased some of its products at a trade show in Shanghai. While there, a producer for Chinese Central Television approached the company with an offer to film a brief documentary about Tuson to be broadcast on the CCTV Old Story Channel. According to Tu, the Chinese government is making an effort to promote a spirit of craftsmanship in Chinese society, and the high-quality craft demonstrated by Tuson got their attention.
Maintaining product quality and continuous improvement are central to the Tuson mission. The company is ISO9001 and IATF 16949 certified, which has enabled it to stand out among the many companies offering similar products and competing in China. Due to its strict quality control procedures, the company has been able to earn the confidence of its Chinese customers.
The company’s success in China has enabled it to improve its offering and develop even better solutions for its customers. It has recently upgraded its product line to employ more complex control valves for hydraulic pumps, which will help it further differentiate itself from competitors. As a result of these improvements, the company is anticipating further growth, and to position itself to best manage that growth, Tuson has acquired a new 330,000-square-foot lot of land for a new facility. It plans to break ground on the building in March of this year.
This new facility, like all of Tuson’s manufacturing plants, will be state-of-the-art, operating cutting-edge equipment to produce large quantities of excellent components at high speed. By investing heavily in efficiency and rapid productivity, the company can help its customers achieve the highest possible profitability for their products. As its customers achieve success and grow, Tuson can grow along with them.
From the very beginning of its existence, Tuson’s core expertise has been in precision machining. Using the latest in computer-numerical controlled (CNC) machining technology, Tuson can manufacture parts in carbon, stainless steel, and various alloys to very tight tolerances. Once the parts have been machined, they are carefully validated to ensure they meet the customer’s specifications exactly. The company can then take those parts and build them into complex assemblies such as motors, hydraulic and pneumatic systems, and more.
Since the company’s creation more than thirty years ago, Tuson has overcome many difficult challenges. In the face of every disaster, it has shown a keen capacity to adapt and survive. With a fresh focus on the Chinese domestic market place, the company’s leadership is anticipating further growth and hopes to move into the Chinese automotive sector going forward.