Irion’s company crafting beneficial
US/China business relationships

July 25, 2014
Santa Paula News

China is evolving and William “Bill” Irion and his company are there, working with government officials and businesses on crafting mutually beneficial relationships.

Irion, a resident of Santa Paula and China, updated the Chamber of Commerce on his international business and noted he has also been working closely with Chinese companies eager to invest in American companies.

Irion Enterprises is a consulting and market research firm specializing in connecting China’s Yunnan Province and the city of Kunming with the outside world. With over 35 years of experience in China and Japan, Irion’s diverse team of Western and Chinese professionals have the know-how, cross-cultural understanding, and connections to get the job done right.

Irion Enterprises facilitates international trade between China, Japan, and the United States providing international business and investment consultation on government policies and the priorities of associations and private enterprises.

Irion said Kunming has a population of almost 7 million Chinese and is, “Much different than Santa Paula... “

Irion speaks Chinese and his wife is a semi-retired teacher of Japanese.

Irion’s career has long included importing and exporting goods; his company is also involved in organics and beneficial super foods and is currently working extensively in agricultural industries and with agricultural products.

The contrast between his homes in China and Santa Paula is dramatic: “In China I get up and walk out and see thousands of people,” much different from his quiet stateside nighborhood.

China is “very dynamic, all the time changing, doing different things, things being torn down and put up, businesses opening and closing...they never stop building and constructing in China, it’s ongoing. 

“They will tear a building down in China and then rebuild for 24 hours around the clock, dust, pollution, work all the holidays, whatever.”

Because there are no building codes to adhere to, “Some of these buildings fall apart in 10 years,” which Irion said just restarts the building cycle.

Doing business in China, where law goes back 30 to 40 years, “And our own laws go back to the Magna Charter,” can be challenging, especially since Chinese national laws “are interpreted differently in each city.”

Each year Irion has to apply to the government for permission to work and live in China, where the mandatory retirement age is 60 when, “You’re considered too old to work... “

The Chinese consumer likes American made items: “Our brand is very strong, they like American products, believe they are safe and well made,” and European products are also preferred.

Irion said lemons “Are another product that went from nothing 10 to 15 years ago to now a flavor,” in widespread use including for gum, mints and yogurt.

“Chinese prefer sour treats, they don’t like sweets,” and Irion said he will bring back sourdough bread for his Chinese friends and clients, an item they could make themselves except for the general Chinese distrust of their own products.

Doing business in China can be fraught with challenges and pitfalls, from the Chinese reluctance to invest in marketing their products to watching out for crooks that are common ploys for those too trusting.

There are language differences and Irion advised anyone hoping to start a business anywhere but especially in China to “Hire good lawyers to help write the contracts...”

As an American citizen Irion cannot own property outright-”But I can own the right to occupy the land” - in China and he said the law favors the property owner and not the tenant. 

Corruption of government officials has spawned new rules and regulations that are frightening even to the most honest bureaucrat.

Irion said his first trip to China was in 1972, but it was just in recent years that the Chinese discovered wine: “There was a huge interest but there are so many trying to sell wine in China,” the field has become overcrowded.

There are 1.4 billion people in China and Irion said there are schools that teach students on how to study in the United States and how to test to take advantage of America’s internationally admired universities.

“They talk about bringing students here because of our American brand...they know more about us,” said Irion, “than we know about them!”

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