With its revolutionary technology and commitment to quality, Arconic Korea is setting the bar for the metal industry
Nestled in Changwon’s quiet countryside, Arconic Korea looks like an ordinary company at first glance. But what the company produces is far from ordinary. For more than a century, Arconic has helped create and transform entire industries around the globe. The US-headquartered company made headlines last year with its live-action reimagination of the world of “The Jetsons”, the famous American sci-fi cartoon series set in a futuristic utopia. In the short film, flying cars and spaceships made from Arconic technology whiz by mile-high skyscrapers. The 60-second spot was a clear illustration of what Arconic is capable of, and the company’s Korean branch hopes to be a part of this forward-thinking narrative.
Founded in 2002 after acquiring Dooray Air Metal Company, Arconic Korea has served as a leading manufacturer and supplier of extruded and forged aluminum products for aerospace, defense, automotive and industrial applications. Its commitment to quality and service has long been recognized by major domestic and overseas aircraft makers, including Korean Air, Lockheed Martin and Boeing McDonnell Douglas. By combining its local presence with Arconic’s global resources, the company provides customers with leading-edge technology, expertise and integrated solutions for a wide range of products.
At the helm of the company’s success is Changmo Sung, General Manager of Arconic Korea. “Arconic Korea is able to supply high-quality products because we’re involved in every single stage of production,” he says. “Whether that’s product design, extrusion or packaging, we do everything in-house. We want to provide the best service to our clients so that both Arconic and our customers can grow together.”
So what attracted one of the world’s largest metal companies to Korea? “The country’s talented workforce, strong infrastructure and strategic location to emerging markets were key reasons why the company opened up a branch here”, says Sung. As Asia’s economic and technological hub, Korea provided the manufacturer with an optimum business environment to target growing demands from the region. As a result, Arconic Korea recorded KRW 58.1 billion (USD 49.3 million) in sales even amid the global economic slowdown.
Thanks to Korea’s high-tech environment, the company is throwing its weight behind research and development. Arconic Korea has its own product development team, which seeks to optimize the combination of alloy and temper and provide structural solutions at minimum installation costs. The team also focuses on the development of new alloys to produce products tailored for its customers. With its eyes set on the future, the metal supplier aims to hit KRW 100 billion (USD 84.8 million) in sales by 2020.
But like most companies setting up shop in another country, Arconic Korea faced its fair share of challenges in the beginning. “We experienced some difficulty in the first few years because we had limited information on Korean market trends,” says Sung. “There were also some cultural issues because Arconic had acquired Dooray Air Metal Company, which was a Korean company.”
The biggest challenge, however, was trying to change the perception that Koreans had towards international companies. “There’s this misconception that all foreign companies care about is making money for themselves, but that’s not true,” says Sung. “Foreign companies aren’t merely focused on making a profit; they want to create jobs and help Korean businesses grow.” He adds that Arconic has close business partnerships with a number of small and medium enterprises in Korea and thanks to such close networks, both the company and its clients have prospered.
When asked how Korea can become a more ideal environment for investment, Sung believes that labor union laws should be amended so that foreign companies can feel safer when doing business here. In addition, he noted that laws fostering stronger infrastructure should be implemented.
Despite the sagging world economy, Arconic Korea shows no signs of slowing down. The company has been transforming impossible ideas into commercial success, emerging as the sole aluminum extrusion company in not only Korea, but all of Asia. “Our vision is to become the hidden champion of the metal industry,” says Sung. As the company continues to transform the way that people fly, drive and build, it seems that Arconic Korea is well on its way of achieving this goal.
By Esther Oh (email@example.com)
Executive Consultant/Invest Korea