Hwacheon Group Chmn. Kwon Selected as 'Machine Tool Man of the Year'
A ceremony to celebrate the 12th anniversary of Machine Tool Day took place at the Renaissance Seoul Hotel on Dec. 6 with about 400 people from government, industry and academic circles in attendance. In 2001, the government designed the first Thursday of December each year as “Machine Tool Day” with the goal of nurturing Korea into a machine tool power and expanding its machine tool exporting base.
Chairman Kwon Young-yual, of Hwacheon Group celebrating the 60th anniversary this year, has been selected as the “Machine Tool Man of the Year.”
At the ceremony, Kim Jae-hong, assistant minister of the Office of Industries at the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, stressed the need for maximizing added values through the packaging of machine tool systems so that the Korean machine tool industry can make a leap forward again. He also urged the industry to take the initiative in coping with global trends such as convergence, less energy use and environmental-friendliness.
The Korean machine tool industry is forecast to chalk up 6.6 trillion won in productions and a record high of $2.5 billion in exports for a record $900 million trade surplus during 2012.
HWACHEON, LOCAL MACHINE TOOLS PIONEER
Hwacheon Group, now 60 years old, has gone from strength to strength as Korea’ s representative machine tools maker since its inception 60 years ago.
Hwacheon Group Chairman Kwon said his late father Kwon Seung-kwan launched a tiny ironworks factory in 1952 at the height of the Korean War (1950-53) with his expertise learned from a career at a Japanese-run molding company. Initially, Hwacheon Machine Tool supplied iron railings for bridges that needed repairs following the war, and later expanded into iron gates for irrigation facilities and floodgates for ports.
Taking a look at the 60-year story of Hwacheon, it vividly demonstrates how the local machine tools industry has made tremendous strides and evolved into a promising export industry. An initial maker of motors and charcoal briquette-making devices, Hwacheon has now grown into a global player of a wide range of the highest-quality lathes, semi-NC lathes, milling machines, grinders, and CNC grinders.
In the process, Hwacheon made many twists and turns. Chairman Kwon recalls that his company had to make critical decisions for its survival every time it was faced with a crisis as Korea underwent economic and industrial changes. The greatest hardship Hwacheon underwent was when it was caught up in a severe financial crunch in 1980 as the second oil shock roiled the global economy into a recession, teaching it a valuable lesson about the risks of over-borrowing. Thanks to that lesson, Hwacheon managed to overcome the 1997 Asian financial crisis without undergoing restructuring.
Chairman Kwon realized that his company could not be viable in the local market unless it could survive hardships in the global market. The company established a locally-incorporated subsidiary in Chicago in May 1993 to make inroads into North American markets; Hwacheon Europe was established in Germany in December 1993 to strengthen its presence in Europe; and Hwacheon Asia opened its doors in Singapore in April 2006.
Chairman Kwon said Hwacheon is striving to expand its business environs to industrial machines in use for manufacturing processes.
Chairman Kwon expounds his company’ s greatest values -- tenacity, integrity, and sincerity -- that he believes have constituted the driving force behind Hwacheon’ s success story. He said he also has been attaching priority on manpower management, personality, and integrity to follow in his late father’ s footsteps.
Kwon paints a rosy picture of his company from the mid- and long-term perspective. Hwacheon is now striving to build a new tradition with world-class competitive prowess and a vision of offering the world’ s best products and services.
Hwacheon developed Korea’ s first NC lathe in June 1977; the nation’ s first CNC milling machine and copy milling machine in October 1983; and Korea’ s first NCTC in December 1988.
Hwacheon Machinery Works’ Changwon plant boasts the nation’ s largest facility specializing in machine tool production with vertically-integrated production capability in every area from cast-iron, a basic material in machine products, to finished items such as lathes and milling machines. In addition, its highly organized system allows completely integrated processes and enables Hwacheon Machinery Works to provide excellent machine tools, each a perfect example of the company’ s know-how. The plant produces the highest-quality lathes, semi-NC lathes, milling machines, grinders and CNC grinders.