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Daring Deeds - real stories, expeditions, road trips and adventure

My Epic visit

By Nick | 01, May, 2009

The Gerber laying machine.. it cuts out our Jeanius pants

The reason I am writing this is that Pete asked what we do on a trip like this, and couldn’t answer him immediately. That’s not because I didn’t know it’s just that it’s difficult to put into words. For me just being here is enough, but that’s hardly economic, so you do really have to have a purpose. 

For this trip it was to sign off some developments we have been doing, and although it is possible via email and dhl it can take time and can go wrong. Like everything if you can meet the people that make the stuff the better the chances you have of the stuff being as good as you want it to be. If they believe in you, and you believe in them then our customers will believe in the product.  So I was here to meet Team Epic, which consists of Ted and Caecilia at AMT Indonesia. Now it’s very rare that we divulge our factory sources, but this is a fully vertical outfit so if anyone is that interested they will find out anyway.

I was here for three days which in hindsight was a day too long, but as you never know the team your going to meet and how they work it was better to have too much time than too little.

Anyway back to my ramblings, I didn’t sleep too badly. My usual cure for jet lag is to stay up until your eyes can’t physically stay open and go to bed no earlier than 9.00pm local time (even better if it is after midnight) and hope you can get 5/6 hours sleep before your body wakes up at 3.00am. So I was down in the lobby making use of the free broadband and at 9.15 I felt my eyelids starting to fail me and knew it was time to hit the sack. The benefit of waking up at 3 in the morning is that you can polish off books at a pretty good rate. I like to bring a few trashy novels, war, thriller, sci fi, it doesn’t really matter just something to page turn, and then something a little heavier. So my “Decline and Fall of the British Empire” should do nicely if I race through the others too quickly.

First up, I visited the Epic office in Tamerang a suburb of Jakarta, where I met with Ted and Caecilia. Ted I had met up with few times before at various trade shows but this is the first time I had Caecilia, who is our main point of contact at Epic. We spent the whole day going through all the details of our existing product along with a few new ones. When we finished it was back to the hotel to get an early night.

With the clock reading 1.43am it was going to be a long day, no point fighting it, back to the books.

An early start meant leaving the hotel at 6.00am to fly to Samerang from Jakarta. I have heard lots of stories about flying in Indonesia so I have to admit I was a little hesitant, but this is the only way to get to the factory apart from a very lengthy car journey. I am sure if someone does the math it is still safer to fly an airline not allowed to fly into Europe due to safety concerns than drive across mid Java for a day.

We still had to drive a bit but it’s nice to see a little of the country away from the metropolis that is Jakarta. People do ask if a go and see tourist stuff when I’m away, and to be honest I’m really not that bothered it’s the mundane, boring quirky stuff that interests me. I’d rather see a man carry 200 footballs on the back of his bike than the inside of a temple. That’s not to say I don’t like the cultural stuff, it’s just that there’s a lot to see about a country that’s not in the brochure.

We arrived at the factory, within 30secs you know it’s going to be a good one. I have visited hundreds of factories in Asia, so I’d like to think I have a very pragmatic approach to factory selection. Sometimes you walk in and know that it’s all just an act, this wasn’t. The factory is run by Erlinda originally from the Philippines and has 28 years experience in the garment industry and it shows. Clean, tidy, all the lights working, quiet machines. In line inspection that actually rejected some stuff. Normally I walk in to places and ask to see the stuff they had rejected, as you get an idea of what they are looking at. If the factory is fixing the visit then they hide all this stuff but if it’s a good factory then finding the stuff they get wrong and fixing is vital. So on the line there were little piles of stuff that needed redoing, this was a good sign. The main thing is everyone is busy, not just the machinists but the inspectors and supervisors. The only problems with visits like this is that there is only so much you can do, you can’t teach people how to suck eggs. Sure if the factory needs a bit of work you can sit down and talk work flow, material storage, needle control systems but when the factory is as good as this one then you are better leaving them to it.

On the way back to the airport and with a bit of time to kill we visited a Batik shop where Caecilia did her best to get me to buy me something. I’m not one for Batik sarongs so I made do with some fabric that I’m sure will get made in to something and it only cost a few quid. In fact it cost less than the “worlds most expensive coffee” at $8 dollars a cup they where selling at the airport. I didn’t buy any just because I didn’t want to pay $8 only to find out that it was the second best coffee in the world along with fact that they harvest the beans after they have been processed by a Luwak Denzien. Basically the little critter eats the coffee cherries and passes them out the other end. They then get collected, roasted and turned into the worlds rarest coffee beverage. The other reason is that back at Alpkit HQ we are training for the world coffee drinking championship in Lavazza,  Italy early next April so we drink quite a lot of coffee. If I had bought a packet of the stuff it would have lasted less than two days and cost over £50.

Eventually the plane arrived a couple of hours late and we met up with Ted for a Japanese supper, which was super. Back at the hotel I switched on the 24hr coverage of the show “Don’t come back to this country without a face mask, and proof that you don’t share your food with a pig”. That is BBC news 24. Scary stuff.

Today, was an easy day. I got up late and then after lunch finished everything off at the Epic office, who I’d like to thank for making my stay as productive as possible.

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