Alto continues global expansion
By By Lisa Tindell
Alto Products Corp. newest employee traveled more than 7,000 miles last week to attend training in the company's home office in Atmore.
Charlotte Lin has been attending numerous training meetings in preparation to open a sales center for the parts manufacturer in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
Even though Lin's visit to Atmore was brief, only five days, Alto president David Landa and vice president of export sales, Mike Halston, have kept her busy. But first, she enjoyed a few days at the beach this past weekend following a two-day flight from Taiwan.
"The first day was a complete training day and we went through the plant, explained the processes of how we make the products and our technical people explained the different types of materials we use, how our catalog looks and our part numbers so that she can go back to Taiwan and help promote the products in Taiwan," Landa said. "Today (Tuesday), we went over her two functions, one is selling in Taiwan, but we also buy products in Taiwan as well. We manufacture the clutches here, but there are some complimentary items that we sell along with the clutches that we buy in Taiwan, China and some in the United States. We had a long meeting today (Tuesday) to go over the procedures to try to do some more sourcing in Taiwan."
Landa said 100 percent of the clutches Alto produces are made in Atmore. Complimentary parts such as gaskets, seals and other rubber parts are bought from other parts of the country to "compliment their line".
Halston said Taiwan has been in the automotive business for decades, which is one of the main reasons Alto decided to set up shop there.
"It was one of the first, relatively cheap labor markets that started in the automotive business many years ago, well before China," Halston said. "They are totally entrenched right now with the infrastructure that makes a lot of automotive parts at a much less labor cost price than we have here."
Halston also believes Taiwan will benefit Alto on the sales side.
"Taiwan is one of the few countries around the world that the majority of the cars are automatic transmissions, so there is a very large demand for the population for automatic transmission parts, which is what we do," he said. "Around the world, outside the United States, the only other significant areas that carries automatics more than 50 percent is Australia, Venezuela and the Middle East.
Lin, who has an engineering background, said her visit to Atmore has been great and is looking forward to working for Alto.
"I've found that Alto is a good company," Lin said. "Everything in the company is well organized, the people are friendly and that it will be a good job."
The Taiwan office will be for sales and distribution of Alto's automatic transmission parts. Other centers include Mexico; Mainland, China; Sydney, Australia; Germany, Brazil and Dubai.
Lin expects the Taiwan operation to be successful.
"The products are complete and strong, so I think it will be good for me to promote the product in Taiwan," she said.
Landa said that Lin will also help to develop Alto's Web site in Chinese.