As lifetime employment becomes a thing of the past, job hopping is now the new normal. Nevertheless, there are still many, who have run a career marathon without fanfare. Today’s interview is with Mr. Gwangjin Kim, Chief of Machinery Development Team, who has been a steadfast member of DORCO for the past 35 years. Mr. Gwangjin Kim shares his story that intertwines with the history of DORCO and explains the secrets of his career longevity.
Q. When did you first join DORCO? What was DORCO like back then?
I have been with DORCO for 35 years after joining the firm in 1987. Back then, DORCO was called Hanil Industries, specializing in razors and kitchen knives. While there were a few razor manufacturers in Korea, the firm was a market-leading player. In 1990, the firm changed its name to DORCO, its well-performing brand, to solidify its identity as a high-quality manufacturer.
Q. Why did you want to work for DORCO? Did you start your career with Machinery Development Team?
The firm’s presence as a market-leading manufacturer in the specialty product segment such as razors and knives looked compelling. I spent my first year as a production operator and then moved onto the service part before joining the newly created Machinery Development Team.
Q. Do you think joining DORCO was the right decision?
Yes, I do. When I first joined the firm, machines, especially assembly machines, used for razor production were mostly foreign imports, and there was only one domestic firm which could supply these machines. When DORCO started to build its own machines, the process was not without challenges and failures, but when successful, it was exhilarating.
In the past, DORCO’s revenue fell short of KRW10 billion, most of which came from the domestic market, and revenue exposure to exports was below 10%. Exports now account for a meaningful share of revenue, and DORCO has grown beyond Korea to compete against major global brands and products. Whenever I look at the growth of the company, to which I dedicated my entire career, it gives me a great sense of pride and convinces me that I made the right decision.
Q. What role does Machinery Development Team play when making a product or a machine?
A machine has thousands of parts, and even one missing part can grind the entire process to a halt. Accordingly, each and every part requires in-depth understanding and sophisticated handling. Skills and know-how are essential to producing parts and assembling them in a sequenced order, and this is where Machinery Development Team comes to the fore. The team is working hard to ensure all machinery and equipment function without any issues and to develop new equipment needed to further upgrade the current processes. After a long journey filled with both failures and successes, the team has know-how about setting up and fine-tuning machines and products. Having high standards and craftsmanship is critical to keep the momentum going.
In addition, automation is key to volume production. A lack of coordination with Product Development Team and Design Team in this process could take a toll on the performance of assembly machines. Accordingly, one of Machinery Development Team’s responsibilities is to ensure active communication and collaboration with Product Development Team and Design Team.
Q. Is there a machine that is special to you?
The team recently designed AI-enabled automated inspection equipment, which has yet to make its way to production lines. Currently, once manufactured, products are inspected visually, and as the new equipment automatically detects defects, it is bound to increase productivity once deployed to production.
Q. Have you visited DORCO’s overseas production bases to install equipment?
If overseas factories are left to themselves, the end results may be different from what is expected. When the company stands behind the development of machines, deployment to production and troubleshooting, best products can be produced with the best machines. I took part in the deployment of virtually all equipment at DORCO’s factories in Korea and abroad. At end-June last year, I visited factories in Vietnam, China and Mexico to install assembly and grinding machines.
Q. What does 35 years of employment with DORCO mean to you?
Unlike in the past when machines had to be imported to produce razors, DORCO is now capable of building its own machines as it sees fit and produces high-quality products without having to rely on imports. Machinery Development Team and I take pride for it. Razors, which can comfortably fit in one hand, are the results of extensive research and countless trials and errors. As a first-hand witness to the entire journey, I can proudly present what DORCO and Machinery Development Team stand for and the values we offer.