Success Story

Architectural Firm Jerde Discusses How To Win In Asia

Image of Paul Martinkovic, Mark Liu and Terri Batch

Jerde is an architectural firm, based in Los Angeles, CA with offices throughout Asia. The company has completed over 200 projects globally and has worked with companies like Universal Studios and the Bellagio.

This episode explores Jerde’s export journey with the company’s Chief Executive Officer Paul Martinkovic and Senior Vice President, Managing Director of China Mark Liu. Terri Batch, a senior international trade specialist and one of America’s Export Experts, also joins to share her experience with Jerde and to shed light on how the U.S. Commercial Service works with clients in the design and construction industry.

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] [music]

[00:00:03] Interviewer: On this episode of Export Nation, we speak to Jerde’s Chief Executive Officer, Paul Martinkovic, and Senior Vice President, Managing Director of China, Mark Liu. Jerde is an architectural firm based in Los Angeles with offices throughout Asia. Also, joining us is Terri Batch, a senior international trade specialist with the US Commercial Service, who has extensive experience in China and is a member of the design and construction team.

Thank you, Paul, Mark, Terri, Greg. I appreciate you all joining. I appreciate you joining the call. If you could start by telling us a little bit about your company, and perhaps just what your domestic success has been.

[00:00:40] Paul Martinkovic: We’re a 40-year-old architectural firm founded in Venice, California. We basically have established a worldwide practice where we estimate we’ve done (over) 200 projects all over the world, 8 million visitors visit our projects each year. A lot of our work was the seminal start of commercial entertainment. We did a lot of entertainment projects, CityWalk and Universal City, casino projects, Bellagio.

We’re a 40-year-old architectural firm founded in Venice, California. We basically have established a worldwide practice where we estimate we’ve done (over) 200 projects all over the world.

Our first project was Horton Plaza in San Diego which they started the experiential placemaking concept, which we feel we invented. Currently, most of our work now is in Asia, Asia Pacific, probably 70%.

[00:01:58] Interviewer: What was behind the business getting started? What motivated that?

[00:02:03] Paul: I think that it was our founder Jon Jerde had some specific ideas about placemaking and experiential retail, how places work, the experience of the user, not necessarily the tenant or the store. That was pretty much the genesis. He had started in commercial shopping centers here in the US. As those hit the suburbs, the next generation was projects like CityWalk and mixed-use projects that had maybe gaming or other venues within it.

[00:02:55] Interviewer: Then what started your export journey?

[00:02:59] Paul: It started in the late ’80s, there was a number of recessions in the US. I remember there was once every other year, there’d be a recession where US work would dry up. Our CEO at the time, Eddie Wang, begun reaching out into Japan, and we were engaged to do a project in Southern Japan. That really started our export business. From that, followed some work in Europe, and then started in the Far East. Our entry to China was through Hong Kong. That was the beginning of a China story.

[00:03:49] Interviewer: Why Japan?

[00:03:51] Paul: Japan is a very design-oriented culture. They like very finely crafted projects. They were looking more for some color and excitement in their projects. If you go to Japan, sometimes it’s a little gray, not too colorful, not too exciting. The client that hired us wanted something that demonstrated a little more color, a little more excitement, a little more user-friendly and experiential.

[00:04:36] Interviewer: How did you all meet up with the US Commercial Service Department of Commerce? How did that relationship start?

[00:04:46] Paul: I’ll let you do that, Mark.

[00:04:49] Mark Liu: Sure. I’m stumped because I’m trying to remember how it all happened. Terri, do you remember?

[00:04:55] Terri Batch: You know, I was trying to remember that too. I was hoping you would remember. I think somehow you guys connected with our office in China first. Because I remember when Jericho was our commercial specialist in Guangzhou. I remember her sending us an email here in Los Angeles saying that she was talking to a US firm based in LA and asked us to make contact.

That was when I went to the office and met Greg and I met Paul. I think that was the beginning of the relationship for me domestically but I believe Jericho was meeting with you and your team on the ground in China.

[00:05:39] Mark: Yes, that sounds about right. I think it actually went beyond Jericho. Jericho came in later. I think it started in Shanghai. I think we were talking to, or I think we must have met some of your commerce people in Shanghai in some event.

[00:06:04] Terri: You know what, I know what it was now and I hate to cut you off. It was when Shanghai opened the AIA chapter and there were— Were you not one of the founders at the AIA chapter there?

[00:06:17] Mark: Yes we are.

[00:06:18] Terri: They worked very closely with our office in Shanghai and even the AIA convention or national convention that would take place every year, I actually was a speaker at that conference and there were a number of your members from Shanghai that I connected with. If I try to say their names right now, I know I’m not going to be able to remember but I believe from when they founded that chapter, and then we were in close contact with some of the other firms here in Los Angeles and then also our office in Shanghai.

Then that was the catalyst for engaging you, guys, because we really wanted to work with firms that had already established offices in China and you to get more work because it’s such a huge investment for you to go into the market and open an office, hire staff and then ultimately you need to have projects. That was one of our main ways we wanted to engage the group to just be on the lookout for more opportunities.

[00:07:29] Mark: Your memory serves you right. From there, it was Jericho and Guangzhou and then Jericho had brought in Betsy. That’s when things got a bit more serious. Then that’s when you got in and we started talking about the Roadshow.

[00:07:54] Terri: The Roadshow came out of our discover global markets design and construct that we did in Kansas City back in 2018. During that conference, we had one of the panels or one of the discussions was around theme parks because in Kansas City, not necessarily theme parks, I’m sorry, entertainment because Kansas City has several well-known firms that are in stadium design and attractions and whatnot.

After that conference, we said, “Hey, as a spinoff or as a follow-on activity, we want to do a roadshow in China.” There were several companies that were interested and then we engaged with our office in China. Then that was the follow-on to all the other activities that we’ve done with you guys since then from the roadshow and all the other promotional events.

[00:08:57] Mark: Absolutely correct.

[00:08:59] Interviewer: Just to ask a quick question. Terri, AIA, and then Mark you said you were really involved in this, so maybe Terri, you could explain what AIA is a little bit more.

[00:09:08] Terri: Well, I’ll say what the name is and then I think it’ll be great for Mark and Paul to talk about it because AIA is the American Institute of Architects and it is an association that the commerce department or/and even the US commercial service, I should say, we’ve had a long-standing relationship with them.

When we’ve tried to work more with architects and work in the design space, we usually reach out to AIA their national headquarters which is in Washington DC. Then we have contacts with their chapters around the country so that we can better engage and also just let architects know that we exist and we’re here to help. They also several years ago— I want to say maybe about 10 years ago now, probably, yes, about 10 years, they have what’s called an MDCP, which is a Market Development Cooperator Program grant.

That grant was to help AIA take more architects into international markets. With that grant, they did trade missions to the Middle East, they did them to India, they did them to Brazil, and they did, I think a few to China as well.

It was really a way to help the industry, help them to find more projects and more opportunities overseas. That relationship is still a very strong relationship to this day. I do remember when AIA was setting up their office in Shanghai, they worked with us to get that office set up as well.

[00:10:52] Interviewer: Then, Mark, your role with AIA.

[00:10:54] Mark: Our involvement with AIA, obviously stems from back in our Los Angeles office, being an American company and being an American architectural firm, most of our designers are members of the AIA. Then, back up maybe six years ago, if I’m correct, about six years ago, a couple of architects that are also based in China had contacted me and said that they are going to start the China chapter of AIA and asked if Jerde would like to participate and if Jerde would like to be a founding member and obviously sponsor this event.

Of course, at the time, I talked to Paul and Paul said, “Absolutely.” We sponsored part of the event and helped them establish the China chapter, and that’s it. That brings us to now about six years. Recently, AIA has also opened a Beijing chapter and they’re talking about whether or not there should be a national chapter in China, so it becomes China chapter. So far, officially it’s still a Beijing chapter and a Shanghai chapter.

[00:12:21] Interviewer: You were doing some work with Jericho, and then when Betsy came in it became more serious, what did you mean by that?

[00:12:28] Mark: I think it was more of the whole idea started to formulate and become more clear. What I liked about working with the US Commercial Service is that it’s a very give and take type of a relationship where we actually helped formulate what kind of a roadshow we would be happy with, instead of a roadshow that was already decided, and just ask us if we wanted to be part of it.

What I liked about working with the US Commercial Service is that it’s a very give and take type of a relationship where we actually helped formulate what kind of a roadshow we would be happy with, instead of a roadshow that was already decided

We actually helped formulate it, and I think the other participants also appreciated the style of working. When Betsy got involved, and then the US side got involved, that’s when the whole plan came to fruition. Then we started setting dates and setting cities, and the venues, and on, and on, all the details.

[00:13:33] Interviewer: At that point, though, you were already a little bit established in China at that point, is that accurate to say?

[00:13:39] Mark: We were quite established in China. We’ve been in China, or Paul actually came to China 20 plus years ago to establish our China office. 1999, maybe 2000, is that right, Paul?

[00:13:54] Paul: Right.

[00:13:55] Interviewer: Did you face any hurdles at that time, Paul, that you remember?


[00:14:06] Paul: Well, it was truly the Wild West. Actually, our CEO at the time, Eddie Wong, he basically established— We had their very first office was an apartment in the French Quarter, the French District. A very small apartment. Then, I really got involved and started setting up the company and moving to a different location. At the time in the late ’90s, early 2000s, everything was done with cash. They didn’t have credit cards, and you paid everything with cash. There was only a few hotels in Shanghai at the time that international people stayed.

A local domestic hotel was a lot more rigorous and a little more rough and ready than some of the international hotels. One of the biggest problems we had was getting paid or getting US currency so that— The initial Chinese clients they paid in the local currency which it’s not traded on the international market. We know we had to take money to money changers in the city to get it changed, pay a big commission.

Our first real project was done by a developer from Thailand, and then there was a lot of Hong Kong companies up there trying to start projects. Then when we started working with local developers, a lot of local developers were actually businessmen or businesswomen because there’s a lot of Chinese chairmen that are women, it’s very common in China. They had made their money in electronics or hard goods like steel or pharmaceuticals, those types of things and they got the real estate because there was a real demand for housing and office and commercial throughout the whole country.

We started working with people that had no experience in development at all. When you went to visit a company, the management team, they were in their early 20s and they’re doing like a million square feet of retail and five million square feet of housing and office and that sort of thing. You go, “What kind of projects have you done?” “I haven’t done any. This is my first one,” and you’re going, “Whoa.”

It was quite an educational process and we had some difficulty with contracts and executing because they were just unsophisticated as development managers. As the years went by, the market got more sophisticated and it turned out that that’s the main market of the company now.

[00:17:41] Interviewer: Are there key characteristics of types of partners or clients you’re looking to work with when you’re in China?

[00:17:49] Paul: They’re primarily commercial clients. Now one of the things in China is if you’re a commercial company, you’re a member of the party too. It’s one and the same. The interesting thing about China is that there is no private property ownership, so all the land is on a land lease.

The developers have a right to develop over 75, 50 years, or something and then the property reverts back to the government. Most of our clients are commercial clients. There are some co-government projects that we’ve been doing especially now that’s become the trend. Most of the projects are commercial projects. They’re not institutional or hospital or school or that type of thing.

[00:18:41] Interviewer: Terri, if you could maybe talk about when a client like this is attempting to enter especially now, what struggles do you think they face? Or what should they have an understanding about China market or markets in general?

[00:18:58] Terri: Well, I think working with companies in the architecture space, one of the first things I have to do as a trade specialist is really understand what is their business. Paul just mentioned they do commercial clients and I think it’s important for a firm to have whatever their niche is or whatever their specialty and not try to go— Just because they’re going overseas, not try to drift too far out of that.

There are some large mega-firms that do everything. They have a division for everything but most architecture and design firms are small firms. They are what we consider small companies. They might have even 50 employees or 100 employees but our threshold is usually 500 employees or less. Most of the firms we work with they have less than 500 people.

When I’m talking to a company or I meet a new architecture or design firm, I usually try to understand what is their specialty, so that when I recommend a market for them to go to or if they already— Most of the time they have a market in mind that they want to go to, but if they’re just testing the waters, it’s important to understand what their specialty is because some things work in one market, but it won’t work in another market, if that makes sense.

When I meet a firm for the first time and after I understand what it is that they want, what it is that they do, and reaching out to our overseas colleagues like in China, we have six offices, so there’s a lot— That’s a huge market. Depending on the company, I don’t necessarily tell them, “Oh, you should be doing business in China,” because China is a long-term play. It’s a huge investment. It really requires a lot of effort to be successful, and a lot of firms have been successful, but they, like Paul was saying about the early days, it’s a very risky market. I try to find the markets that are going to be most appropriate for the firm and also where we have the expertise where we can really help a company. It’s a little bit of a— it’s an art to doing it and there’s never a straightforward answer because it really depends on the company, it depends on their expertise and their experience and even their reputation as designers and to see which market would be the best market for them to explore.

Depending on the company, I don’t necessarily tell them, “Oh, you should be doing business in China,” because China is a long-term play. It’s a huge investment. It really requires a lot of effort to be successful …

[00:21:48] Mark: I think the China market is a very, very large market. I think you can do business in any industry in China, whether you’re architecture, you’re selling shoes, you’re, whatever. I think you can do that, but it takes commitment. Meaning you cannot just fly in, a week of meetings, go home, sign a contract and expect to do this business from overseas.

You need to show commitment to this market and therefore you are going to have to invest. You have to like we have done, we’ve invested in our people, we’ve invested in our facilities, we’ve invested in our network here for over 20 years, but we’ve also found the rewards and the rewards are that, thinking back to 2007, 2008, the economic crisis that stemmed from the Wall Street, US work dried up, so Jerde focused on the China market and basically China market saved the company.

Fast forward to COVID, let’s say. COVID affected all markets all over the world, but we found that in China, in fact, they had a month and a half of lockdown and right after that, everybody got back on the horses and started galloping again.

In fact, China, the way that they do business here, in general, is that everything is geared toward the country’s GDP. The country has a GDP target and the government then sends that down to each of the provinces and each of the provinces then split it up and go into each of the districts and cities and so on. The government has these GDPs that they have to meet and these are their targets.

What happens is in the government in order to meet their GDP, they will help the businessmen, the business people because of taxes, right? They need the taxes, so they need the GDP, so they need to help the businesses reach their targets. What happens is, in the beginning, the first half of last year, during the COVID year, business is very slow, but towards the end of the second half of the year, it sped up like crazy. I mean, doubling the efforts because they want to catch up.

What happens is, as the year ends, and you look at it, the net result is as if there was no COVID or as if COVID did not affect anything. I’m saying that in very general terms, of course, there are some industries that are hit really bad, like hospitalities and airline industries, but in our business, in the developing business, Paul, if you recall, I mean, June— I’m sorry. November and December were crazy months for us. There was so much projects coming our way that we were caught off guard and we had to turn away some work.

[00:25:14] Terri: Can I add something, follow up to what Mark said that really peaked my memory about the industry? Going back to 2008 when we were in the global economic crisis— Or here, I’m sorry, not global. The US economic crisis here with the housing market. I remember that being one of our busiest times in the commercial service. I was really young at the time but I remember thinking, “I don’t know what these people are talking about recession, we are so busy,” because so many companies were coming to us that had never thought about exporting before and they all wanted to export. They all wanted to find opportunities overseas.

I tell companies this to this day, you don’t want to wait for the next crisis to begin looking at overseas. It should be a steady part of your overall business plan because then when a crisis does hit usually like especially here domestically, there are opportunities still out there overseas. That can keep your company afloat even if you don’t have the business here right at home.

I just wanted to just throw that out there because I remember those years and we were crazy, crazy busy in the US Commercial Service during that time. It was because people were looking for those opportunities and the companies that did the best were the ones who had already started looking abroad like you guys. You guys started in 2000 in China.

Those companies fared way better than the ones who once that struck trying to do it then, because it was almost like you’re doing it under pressure as opposed to it already being a part of your business plan.

[00:27:08] Mark: Once again, China is a very large market. Just population-wise, it’s double or quadruple what we have in the US, so if you imagine that the US goods are exported or the US brands are exported to China, the amount of business that they can possibly draw more.

[00:27:36] Interviewer: Great. I want to go back a little bit to the roadshow. I know we touched it but I feel like we just skimmed it a little. Could you tell me what that experience was like, Mark or Paul, for the company and maybe what it was able to do?

[00:27:53] Mark: Sure. Paul, I’ll take this. I was part of this roadshow. The roadshow was really good. It was a five-day roadshow. We were in Hong Kong and Macau. We were in Hangzhou, Beijing. Where else did we go?

[00:28:15] Terri: It was Hong Kong, Macao, Shenzhen. Shenzhen was the big one and then Beijing and then Ningbo.

[00:28:25] Mark: Ningbo. That’s right. From these roadshows, two things happened. One was direct translation into our bottom line which means business, direct contract business to us. It didn’t happen at the roadshow but it got our brand out. Because some of the clients that we did meet at the roadshow, eventually became our clients with signed contracts. That’s number one.

The second thing was that it brought us to think about other platforms or other topographies that we can continue doing with the US commerce department. The next one we were hoping for was the sports venue which we had done very well in the States, and we think that China needs this. In fact the same people that attended our roadshow, the theme park roadshow actually caught on to the idea.

Terri, this is something new to put on your log here is the Foshan government. The Foshan government actually came to us and talked about sports venues. This sprung from the theme park roadshow.

[00:30:09] Terri: Yes, if I can add, there is a follow-up support that we’re giving in the China market for what we call location-based entertainment but that can also include stadiums and other large attractions.

The American Smart Design program, which is being developed by our colleagues in the Guangzhou office and also throughout China is really to help highlight and also give a bigger platform for American designers to be able to promote their services to developers, to government organizations, to the decision-makers in China so that when they are seeking to build, whether it’s build a stadium, or build a hospital or a school or any type of building project, they will have basically a database of American firms that we’re promoting and trying to make sure that we’re amplifying the work that they can do in the market.

[00:31:19] Interviewer: Terri, could you talk a little bit about the global design and construction team? Was this roadshow involved in that team?

[00:31:32] Terri: Yes. This roadshow was supported by the global design and construction team and Mark and Paul, you guys probably don’t know us by that name, but I’m basically a member of the global design and construction team. Which within the commercial service, the way we are able to pull off, whether it’s a roadshow or a trade mission or support at a trade show like the AIA national convention or any of the activities that we do is through teamwork.

The global design and construction team looks for opportunities to help companies in the built environment. It doesn’t just cover architecture but it’s architecture, it’s engineering, it’s building products, it’s construction equipment, it’s everything that goes into the industry. The team supported this, so that’s how we promoted it. That’s how we found companies to participate in it. That’s how we get the message out to industry to say, “Hey, we have opportunities in this particular market.”

For instance, right now, we’re doing a lot in the Saudi Arabia market. The team is working to reach out to US companies to say, “Hey, this is an opportunity for you to do business in an international market.” We basically try to make it easy for the US company to pursue an opportunity in that market.

The team is all about results. It’s all about trying to help US companies do more business and define the projects and to be able to basically compete because you have competition from all around the world. Also, the global team, the global design and construction team focuses on pretty much every market around the world where a US company can do business in.

It has a far reach in terms of helping a US company figure out, “Okay, we want to do business overseas. Can you help us?” The team is really that first resource that we have internally that we would go to to figure out, “Okay, how do we best help this company?”

[00:33:53] Interviewer: In terms of, I didn’t ask some basic questions like, how many employees do you have? Does the company have? How many maybe support—? I don’t want to assume that a good majority support your efforts in China. Maybe you tell me.

[00:34:08] Paul: Well, we have over 100 employees. Equal to about 110 now, maybe. Mark, your staff is what? 15?

[00:34:19] Mark: No. I am 20 now, almost 24.

[00:34:22] Paul: 20 now. Okay. Then we have a group in Singapore that’s five.

[00:34:31] Interviewer: When COVID hit in China, did that slow down things for your company, or were you able to make up for it somewhere else?

[00:34:41] Paul: Well, it was interesting. Things didn’t really slow up. We thought they would. Somehow, I thought when it all happened and the mayor shut down our office and I was just really panicked because I thought China would— There was a lot of trade war bantering between our country and China, and I was afraid we were going to get calls from our Chinese clients saying, “We’re terminating your contract, and that’s it,” and I could see our company really dropping its revenue dramatically.

The Chinese clients, the staff, we’ve been pretty adept at working with Skype, and WebEx and Zoom, and the Chinese staff, they just all went home and worked, and we kept going. There was a little low, a little slowdown when the offices was locked down and stuff, but we did drop in revenue last year, about 20%, it wasn’t cataclysmic. Like Mark said, in November and December, we’ve gotten just deluged with calls to do work that we can’t, we were turning away a lot of work. We got a PPP loan, which helped. I thought the year was going to end up a lot worse than it did. There wasn’t any domestic work that we picked up during the— In fact, a lot of our domestic work stopped, or was put on hold indefinitely.

[00:36:43] Interviewer: Interesting. Gentlemen, this conversation has been good so far. I don’t intend to hold you crazy long. Perhaps you could maybe tell us some advice or tips that you would give to companies now coming into exporting and dealing with other countries, any advice you could impart?

[00:37:04] Paul: Well, I think that Mark alluded to it a little bit, I think you got to love the culture of the destination you want to work in. I think the Western culture and the Eastern culture are very different. I think one of the mistakes that we made, or staff made in our company was that when you’re assuming that people can speak English, that they think like you, and that’s not the case. I think you have to be very careful.

I love the Asian culture. I love China, I lived there three years, it’s a magnificent culture, magnificent people, I had a great experience there, and I wish I could go back now, I know I can’t. I think that when negotiating with the Chinese, a lot of people think like, “Well, if they don’t say anything, that means yes.” No, that means no. If they don’t respond, that means no, and they’re extremely gracious. The concept of saving face, and being respectful is so high in their culture.

I really learned a lot from them on how to treat people and deal with difficult situations where you can’t be blunt, you have to be very respectful. In China, they have a term called guanxi. Let’s say you and I disagree about something, and we’re at an impasse, and each time we say something to one another, we get more frustrated with one another. In China, they use intermediaries or senior people to broker the problem.

The idea of suing and all that stuff, it’s becoming prevalent in China like it is all over the world. When I first started to go to China, there was no such thing as lawsuits. That was unheard of. You have contracts and stuff, but if you have a dispute, you work through an intermediary to resolve and a lot of time it’s a lot more efficient, but it’s an unusual way to work for Westerner because usually if there’s a dispute, everybody goes, they lawyer up and start filing lawsuits. That would be my recommendation for what it’s worth.

[00:39:49] Mark: Well, I’ll add to that. I think Paul covered quite a bit but I’ll add to that. Tell your listeners, “Go see the movie Lost in Translation.”


Mark: That kind of tells the whole story. I think that’s what Paul was trying to allude to. I have the benefit of knowing both cultures, the Western culture, and the Chinese culture. Very often I am stuck in the middle. I’m that third leg like Paul was saying, I’m the one that’s brokering.

What it does is it takes a lot of patience from your US counterparts to really try to understand how to do business here in China. Like Paul said, it is not the same, definitely not the same. You probably have heard this term before where, in China, once a contract is signed, the negotiation starts.

[00:40:52] Interviewer: Interesting.

[00:40:55] Mark: Right. It’s just the way of life here. In the US, we think that once a contract is signed, everybody plays along with the rules of the contract, whereas in China, people play along with what is convenient at the time.

On top of that is the chairman or the owner of the other company. He does not follow contracts. He will often make his staff do what he wants, which may not be what the contract says. What do you do? Well, if you’re taking salary from this man, then you would go and do what he wants you to do, and you would renegotiate with your supplier or your service partner.

That is expected. I think we can’t take offense to that. Obviously, when it hurts your bottom line, or it goes against your ethics or your work whatever, that’s when you need to speak up. That’s when, like Paul said, you need to find probably a third person to try to smooth things out for you.

Like back in the States, if our contract says we’re going to get paid in 30 days, we expect that no more than 31 days we’d get paid. In China, they will tell you, “I’ll pay you in 60, I’ll pay you in 90,” and they’ll tell you all their problems like you caused them. They’ll tell you all their problems on why they can’t get you the money as their reason for not getting you the money.

All in all, I think it’s a lot of patience and a lot of commitment. You have to commit. You just have to. If you do not commit you might be lucky, you’ll be able to do a little bit of business, and then you’re going to start losing the money right back in. Be ready for the long haul. That’s all I can imagine.

[00:43:10] Interviewer: Terri, did you have any questions or follow up? Do you have?

[00:43:13] Terri: No, I think they did a great job of just talking about their experience, especially in the China market, and then also giving great advice. As someone from the government side and we sit from— We’re at a different angle and different perspective on doing business in a market like China. I can just echo everything that they’ve said, because that’s pretty much has been my experience working with any company that has been successful in China. They have all of those characteristics that they just shared.

It’s a long game and the payoffs can be substantial, but you have to be in it, and it’s not just take a trip to China and then boom, you have business. There really is a commitment that’s needed to be successful. I celebrate Jerde. I’m so happy that they’re one of our clients.

I brag about how successful they’ve been and are in the market and know that it’s possible to see a company like Jerde that’s doing the work that they’re doing and being successful. It makes me really proud and know that it’s possible that companies can be successful.

[00:44:38] Mark: It is, but I just wanted to stress one more time. The patience is an often used word, but in Jerde’s success is the patience between partners. The ownership of the company really have patience with each other, and they actually do listen.

For instance, I am here in China, and Paul and the rest of the partners are back in the States. I explain to them what’s going on the best I could. I explain to it in maybe Western terms so they can understand, but they actually take the time to try to listen and understand because there’s definitely many ways to skin a cat. They really try to understand, and that’s the only way this would work.

If my partners in the States would not, and only understand the American way that I can tell you we’re going to fail. I’ve seen many companies in China that failed like this. Whether they’re Japanese, Korean, British, German, American, they fail because their Chinese counterpart, their general manager in China just cannot get through to them. They cannot understand what he’s trying to tell them. The patience and the communication is absolutely necessary. If that does not exist, I would recommend them, don’t even try to come to China. You’ll waste your time, you’ll waste your money.

[00:46:17] Interviewer: How do people reach out to your company if they’re looking to contact you?

[00:46:21] Mark: They call Terri.


Mark: She has got business cards.

[00:46:29] Interviewer: This podcast is intended to provide information that may be of assistance to you as companies. Statements made by Export Nation podcast guests reflect the views and opinions of that individual. This podcast does not constitute an endorsement by the US Commercial Service of the individual, his or her employer, or affiliated entity. The specific information provided, resources mentioned, or products or services endorsed or offered by that individual and his or her employer or affiliated entity.

The US Commercial Service assumes no responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of the information provided by the guests or for the decisions made in reliance on any information provided by the guest in this podcast. The information provided in this podcast does not constitute legal advice.

Thank you for listening to this episode of Export Nation brought to you by the US commercial service. For more information on how you can get started exporting, please visit


[00:47:41] [END OF AUDIO]


Company Location: Los Angeles, California

Company Website: 

Local Office: U.S. Commercial Service Los Angeles (West)

Trade Specialist: Terri Batch -

Industry Team: Design and Construction

Services: Trade Missions



These podcast are intended to provide information that may be of assistance to U.S. companies. The statements by podcast guest reflect the views and opinions of that individual. These podcast do not constitute an endorsement by the Commercial Service of the individual, his or her employer or affiliated entity, the specific information provided, resources (including websites) mentioned, or products or services endorsed or offered by that individual and his or her employer or affiliated entity. The Commercial Service assumes no responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of the information provided by guest or for the decisions made in reliance on any information provided by the guest in this podcast. The information provided in this podcast does not constitute legal advice.