Nema Etheridge for GlobalAtlanta
Ningbo Hailun Musical Instruments Co. Ltd., a Chinese manufacturer of high quality grand and vertical pianos, is launching its first North American marketing efforts from its newly opened headquarters and showroom in Lilburn.
Hailun, which already sells its high quality, “legacy” pianos in China, Japan and European countries, opened its first U.S. subsidiary Hailun Distrubution LLC northeast of Atlanta last month because of the city’s proximity to potential consumers.
“Half of the U.S. population east of the Mississippi is available to us within only a few hours,” said Hailun Distribution President Theresa Perry, who said company executives were considering locating in California until she explained to them Atlanta’s importance as a logistics hub.
Ms. Perry, a pianist, who has lived in Atlanta for 20 years, met Hailun executives more than a year ago through another company that she runs, Atlantek Network Inc.
Ms. Perry founded Atlantek, a technology consulting and search firm, in 1988 but continued to be involved with the music industry over the years, she said. She first started working with Hailun executives as a business consultant in the summer of 2005, helping Hailun show their pianos at music-oriented trade shows in the U.S.
After a successful January trade show in Anaheim, Calif., Hailun executives decided to open an office in the United States, Ms. Perry said, adding that the company’s pianos “were a real buzz,” among industry professionals at the show.
A former piano parts manufacturer, Hailun began building whole pianos in 1991 and now produces what Ms. Perry calls “legacy” instruments because their sturdy, well-crafted quality allows them to be passed on from generation to generation.
The company employs George F. Emerson, an American piano designer who worked for Baldwin Piano Inc. and Mason & Hamlin, as well as a team of designers from Europe and Japan to craft the pianos, she said.
Ms. Perry works with Stevan Mills, Hailun Distribution’s national sales and marketing manager, to sell the pianos to dealers across the U.S. The company is expected to take on eight more employees within the next two years.
Hailun is the second company from Ningbo, a port city south of Shanghai, China, to invest in Georgia within the past year.
In June, condiment manufacturer Ningbo Lehui Food Machinery Co. Ltd. announced that it would invest $12 million to $15 million to start a manufacturing facility in Newnan in a joint venture with New Jersey-based WY Industries Inc. The announcement represented China’s first investment in Georgia.
Such investment means Ningbo business and government officials are starting to see Georgia as a viable business destination, according to Jane Li, president of the Georgia chapter of the Ningbo Business Promotion Association.
Ms. Li also represents the Ningbo Foreign Investment Development Board in Georgia and is working to build closer ties between Atlanta and Ningbo.
In August of last year, she helped to organize a meeting between Ningbo Mayor Mao Guanglie and Atlanta businesspeople.
Most recently, Ms. Li welcomed Rongzhong Ye, deputy director of the Foreign Affairs Office of the Ningbo Municipal People’s Government, and Bangjie He, director of the U.S. office of the Ningbo Economic and Technology Development Zone, which is based in New Jersey, to Atlanta.
Mr. He and Mr. Ye were in Atlanta for an Oct. 19-20 economic development conference for Atlanta’s Sister Cities.
While Ningbo is not an Atlanta Sister City, representatives attended the conference to express their interest in developing closer ties with Atlanta.
Sister City relationships have traditionally fostered cultural and educational ties but the City of Atlanta, in partnership with a local United Nations affiliate CIFAL Atlanta, leveraged its Sister City relationships to build stronger economic ties internationally.
More than 100 representatives from 13 of Atlanta’s 18 Sister Cities attended.
For more information on the conference, visit www.cifalatlanta.org.
For more information on Ningbo, contact Ms. Li at (404) 819-0258.
To learn more about Hailun, contact Ms. Perry at (770) 381-3871.