Radiant at 30 – Staff Stories: Hard Work Pays Off
Li Sun joined Radiant in 2006, then moved to China in 2011. He is based in the Shanghai office.
Hard Work Pays Off
When I first joined the company, we didn’t have an operation in Asia—we had made just a few sales of VisionCAL® and the PM-KB™ keyboard testing application, and had a Taiwan distributor selling our cameras. Then we got a big order from a major consumer electronics company and that meant a whole lot of cameras to install in China.
Our camera hardware was good, but we needed to improve the software. So Gary [Pedeville] wrote it in China while I did the testing in Redmond—we finished it in less than two months.
Heading to China
Then I traveled to China in 2010 to do the installation and to support our growing business in China. The first year it was just Gary and I, then we hired a few more engineers.
In 2011 Doug [Kreysar, then COO] came over and we opened the first China office in Shanghai with about 10 employees, including a business administrator and salespeople. We had our first sales meeting in 2012 with Stone [Jiang, now VP of Global Sales] and set a goal to have $1 million sales in China—we met the goal about a year later, and since then the business has grown a lot more.
Life on the Move
Back then we were traveling so much—almost every day—that we just lived out of hotels, always coming back to the same hotel in Shanghai. One year Gary was invited by the hotel manager to their holiday party since he stayed there so much!
Once, I had been working in Guangzhou for about a month and was scheduled to fly back to the US. But suddenly we had another support need in Nanjing. I flew to Nanjing and stayed there only about 24 hours—no sleeping, just do the installation, do the calibration. I finished about 8:30 am and took maybe a half-hour nap, then went right back to the airport.
Most of our employees in China are application engineers supporting our customers. They're located in multiple cities, not just in Shanghai. They live where our customers are and work at the customers' manufacturing sites. They do a great job, and our customers are happy.
Everyone works very hard—it can be hard going to a factory to do an installation because there are so many cameras, and they all have to be set up to pass customer acceptance. Sometimes you have to be in cleanroom suits all day—they’re fine for a few hours, but if you have to wear one for 10 hours or more—yuck! But that doesn’t happen much anymore, it’s unusual. We’ve expanded our staff to manage all the work. We have a many engineers in Asia now, with most of them in China, but a lot also in Korea and Vietnam.
In China it’s become common for people to work for companies that are in North America, Europe, or other foreign countries over the last 40 years. Most of the time they like it, because American and European companies tend to have an open culture, and they treat employees well. Radiant’s China employees are happy.
I still remember my first day at the company and two employees took me out for lunch. When I started, I didn’t have an apartment so Ron [Rykowski, founder and then-CEO] had me stay at his house. And when I worked in Redmond, people took me out for lunch when it was my birthday—it’s very warm; a good place. I feel lucky.