A look back and New Year’s wishes

In mid-January 2020, Xiao Ying (Human Resources) and Daisy Huang (Purchasing) had a gut feeling that reports of a sharp escalation in pneumonia cases were the beginning of something far worse. As a precaution, they were quick to find supplies before the Chinese New Year holiday. January 23, 2020, was the first day we all wore masks and safety protocols quickly ensued. Within days, a countrywide near complete lock down was in place.

Our Hong Kong facility remained open throughout the lock down, and indeed throughout the year, managing an influx of deliveries re-routed from their original destinations that were also closed during the lock down. Sales and Engineering set up home workstations around China to prepare Hong Kong reports and to answer customer inquiries. Many of those inquiries were about when our Shenzhen facility would re-open. We had no idea how to answer. Anxiety mounted over what this ‘Novel Coronavirus’ actually was, how it spread, what it could do, and how to protect ourselves.

The days turned into weeks. There was constant communication amongst the team, who was scattered throughout the country and globally. How was everyone’s health, what conditions they were facing, did they have enough supplies, and even food? Part of that was staying alert and being prepared for the next step, whatever that might be. Jenny Huang and her team in our Hong Kong facility soldiered on.

Under necessarily strict requirements for control of entry, facility sanitation, personal protective equipment, and contingency plans, our Shenzhen facility re-opened on February 18. A team that had stayed in Shenzhen, and even included my father- and brother-in-law, worked tirelessly to get us ready to reopen. We even had a letter declaring White Horse “essential” for the support medical equipment manufacturing to validate components with unknown traceability in the wake of severe shortages.

Capacity grew as the team cleared quarantine and returned to Shenzhen (and cleared quarantine again). Everyone available was lending a hand to get vitally necessary lab work accomplished. Sales, Purchasing, Quality Assurance, and even Accounting were in the lab helping with whatever they could. It was mid-April before the team had completely reassembled. Several had been in the high-risk areas and faced daunting struggles. They were warmly welcomed home. Miraculously (and through diligent practice of safety protocols), no one or their families had been infected.

Then it was out of the frying pan and into the inferno as the rest of the world, including Hong Kong, began to realize that the uncontrolled spread of the virus in their countries allowed the epidemic to morph into the pandemic. Further lock downs ensued.

The concerns we had faced in China had migrated to our Hong Kong team, who endured numerous outbreaks and faced capacity crunches throughout the year. Countless hours of overtime were logged. To say they are exhausted and need the coming CNY break is a gross understatement.

It has been over a full year in this reality – one that seemed too unreal to be true, looking through the veil of disbelief. Had we landed in an alternate reality?

We have learned to do things in new ways, making use of technologies that facilitate remote working such as virtual audits and cloud-based test programming. While we have been weakened by fatigue and concern for family and friends, we were strengthened in our care for one another and our determination to get it done. Despite the uncertainty, we stayed true to our equipment investment commitment and even managed to grow by 20% supporting industries vital to fighting the virus and it’s affect on society. So many others have faced so much worse. We are truly fortunate and grateful.

And now The Year of the Rat is drawing to a close. Before the epidemic broke, we even used the image of a mouse in armor to signify the year. How true that turned out to be. In Western culture, the rat is perceived as the source of disease. In addition to the pandemic, too many faced personal tragedies. We admire the determination it take to get back up and get back on the horse. In China’s culture, the rat is clever and resourceful. We saw both beliefs realized in 2020. Faced with these never-seen-before challenges, we figured out how to not only survive but to thrive. Many of the team had very special years, with five of our team becoming parents for the first time and five others celebrated milestone White Horse anniversaries!

Enter The Year of the Ox. According to mythology, the Ox was not the first to arrive at the moon. That honor went to the clever rat, who rode upon the ox’s shoulder and ran down his nose to touch the moon first just as the ox arrived. But the ox was the second of the twelve. Strong, steady… stubborn. I take that to mean “determined”. We have a big agenda for 2021, and we are determined to get it done!

Our Shenzhen facility will be closed from Feb 10th and will reopen on Feb 18th. Most of the domestic trading companies close sometime on Friday the 5th, but we stay through to get everything tested and shipped.

Our Hong Kong facility is still open on the 11th and will close from the 12th, returning on Tuesday the 16th, after a very welcome and much needed several days of rest and relaxation. Two engineers and I will, however, stay on throughout the holiday to take care of your needs.

Gong xi fa cai! Wishing you HEALTH, happiness, and some overdue good fortune in the Year of the Ox!