Partial Transcript: "Okay. I was born, uh, in a small town called Miaoli [苗栗, a county in Taiwan] well nowadays it's probably much larger, but uh that time, it's uh, it's more of a small, uh, small city. I call it a city or town in..."
Keywords: ancestors; China; education; generations; Hakka; Miaoli; minority; music; primitive; revolution; Taichung; Taiwan; tribe
Subjects: birth place; Hakka
Partial Transcript: "Ok, so the Hakka is really [cough] they like music and they like, uh, send kids to school, they look at education as a very important thing, so uh, from [cough] from, uh, grade school to uh, to um uh, before junior high school..."
Keywords: art; drawings; education; elementary school; festivity; high school; Hsinchu; medical school; middle school; musical singing contest; sketching; train; watercolors
Subjects: arts; education; elementary, middle, high schools; singing; sketching
Partial Transcript: "Yes, um, the uh, the medical school is um, is located in Kaohsiung, a southern city of Taiwan, and, uh, you started out in the, as a freshman in the medical school and after four years after that, then..."
Keywords: brother; economical reasons; engineering school; engineers; entrance exam; field; majors; mechanical engineering; medical school; patient; special training; students; Taiwan; Taiwan University
Subjects: career; engineering school; majors; medical school; National Taiwan University
Partial Transcript: "Uh, I have five and among those [quietly] one, two, ...including myself, uh, four of us went to Taiwan University."
Keywords: brothers; Chinese; company; graduation; influence; Japanese; Kansas State; music; performance; product; research; scientist; siblings; sisters; Stafford Chemical; youngest
Subjects: influence; music; scientist; siblings
Partial Transcript: "It's classical stuff. Yeah, you're right. It's classical. I never been able.. I never enjoyed.. Never been able to appreciate the modern, the Chinese poet. Like Xu Zhimo [徐志摩], although some of them are not too bad, but I..."
Keywords: answers; Chinese poem; classical poetry; engineering; essay; field; interested; literature; scholar name; science; teacher; topic
Subjects: classical poetry; literature; scholar name
Partial Transcript: "In later day, in my, uh, engineering career, acoustics. Okay, I did achieve something. I had a tremendous breakthrough uh, to develop a brand new method of like, determining or measuring the acoustic impedance."
Keywords: acoustic impedance; Acoustical Society of America; acoustics; American standard; art school; artist; breakthrough; fellow; method
Subjects: accomplishments; acoustics
Partial Transcript: "Well, I always thought I was… I was an artist, instead of like, a serious scholar, and that, I.. I always had that thing in my mind."
Keywords: art major; artist; boxes; department; graduate student; graphic designer; industrial design; job; product design; Purdue University; sketch; study
Subjects: arts; design
Partial Transcript: "Oh, well uh, that's a very interesting story, uh.. I met my wife at Taiwan Univers-.. Well, it's not really Taiwan University, but it's related to Taiwan University. One night, I was driving a bicycle, because I went.."
Keywords: acoustic impedance; career; China; Chinese; concerts; conference; Detroit; French government; friend; General Motors Research Lab; Indiana University; internationally; invention; Kansas State; leader; microphone; object; party; peak; Purdue; research; soldiers
Subjects: acoustics; career; conference; wife
Partial Transcript: "Because I determined to uh, to come to Houston, okay. I already determined to come to Houston, so I, I sold the house. Well, it's, uh... Exxon helped me, he bought...they bought my house."
Keywords: adapt; breakfast rolls; business; Cantonese style egg rolls; chef; chicken fat; Chungs Gourmet Foods; company; consumers; contract; Detroit; egg rolls; Exxon; final product; friends; generous; house; Houston; ingredient; JY Chung; JYC; nationwide chain stores; plant; recipe; research; restaurant; shares; spice; spring rolls; trick; USDA
Subjects: business; companies; egg rolls; recipe
Partial Transcript: "Okay, I think the, uh, the most important thing is the experience. Um, to start at a business without any experience, is always uh, always uh, a uh, a risk."
Keywords: avoid; business; compressor; equipment; experience; fisherman; generation; judgement; lucky; mentor; money; plant; problem; risk; supplier; years
Subjects: business; experience; risk
Partial Transcript: "Yeah, I import a lot of product, and I, I started importing in 2000...2000....probably early 2000, after I sold the company in 2003 or 2004, and I went to China, actually for the purpose of making some device, based on my invention."
Keywords: blueprint; broker; business; chance; China; Costco; design; Japan; manufacturing plant; partnershp; product; Qingdao; recipe; region; retail; sacrifice; Sam's; sell; spring rolls
Subjects: Costco; products; retail; Sam's
Interviewee: Gene Chung (Chung Jing-Yau)
Interviewers: Chris Chan, Bridget Schilling
Date/Time of Interview: September 13, 2017, at 2:30 PM
Transcribed by: Chris Chan, Bridget Schilling
Audio Track Time: 1:36:13
Background: Dr. Gene Chung was born in 1939 in the town of Miaoli in theRepublic of China (Taiwan). He is a graduate of National Taiwan University, received his Masters degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Design at Kansas State University, and was awarded his PhD from Purdue University for his research in acoustics. His legacy includes publishing internationally recognized scientific methodologies and standards in the field of acoustics, working as a research scientist at GE and Exxon, as well as starting his own enterprise manufacturing eggrolls, among other accomplishments.
Setting: The interview took place on September 13, 2017 in the main office ofJYC Holdings, at 6200 Savoy, Suite 240, Houston, Texas 77036, the company owned by Dr. Gene Chung. His wife, Alice Chung, also sat in on the interview. A large cabinet next to his office desk displayed mock eggrolls and marketing displays of the different packaging of eggrolls and edamame products sold by the company.
GC: Gene Chung
AC: Alice Chung
CC: Chris Chan
BS: Bridget Shilling
--: speech cuts off; abrupt stop
... : speech trails off; pause
(?): Preceding word may not be accurate
[Brackets]: actions [laughs, sighs, or interview notes, etc.]
CC: So, this is an interview with Dr. Gene Chung. My name is Chris Chan and withme I have--
BS: Uh, I'm Bridget Schilling.
CC: And, so, let's um, let's begin.
CC: We're gonna start off with your childhood and pre-immigration background.
CC: So could you talk a little bit about your beginnings, where you were born,and elaborate a little bit about your childhood?
GC: Okay. I was born, uh, in a small town called Miaoli [苗栗, a county inTaiwan] well nowadays it's probably much larger, but uh that time, it's uh, it's more of a small, uh, small city. I call it a city or town in uh, in uh, it's about, a little bit, uh, North, of uh, Taichung, if people know Taichung, and uh this small town is a so-called Hakka [客家] town. Uh, that means um, 1:00most of the population there are Hakkas. And Hakka is one of the, they're a minority in a group of people in China, but also in Ancient China. And if people know the uh, the story of the uh Hakka, Hakka people, those people are coming from northern China and they used to be, uh, the family and relatives of the emperor, uh, you know, like, a long time ago. And uh, they fleed [sic.] the revolution from all these people, like uh, because of their emperor's family and 2:00and they flee to the southern china. And then uh some of them come to uh Taiwan, and that's, uh, that's what my ancestors did, uh eleven generations ago before we--
CC: So are you Hakka?
GC: Yes, I am Hakka and I uh, I'm also very proud of being Hakka and I, youknow, I always, if I have a chance to tell story about Hakka, because Hakka is the only native group, like a small group of people, it has, uh, their own music. As you know that, uh, all these Chinese uh, tribe in the ancient time there were numerous of them, um, the [one] is from the uh central china, which we don't consider them barbaric, you know, they always call the tribe from the 3:00uh the outside of the uh the central china is uh some kind of a uh, like uh
GC: yea, uncivilized. And people uh so and then what, but within this uh,central china, is Hakka is one of the, one of the, lot of native, uh, [coughs] tribe there and only one, only Hakka, has music. And the music is still, still exists nowadays. Very primitive, however, it is uh, the very original, uh, music. Anyways, uh, so I was born in this, uh Miaoli, the little, little town and uh, there aren't too many Hakka, like towns, in Taiwan. And Miaoli, 4:00Miaoli is a, just one of the, maybe three or four, ok, with uh, ninet- probably ninety percent of the population belongs to Hakka. Ok, so the Hakka is really [cough] they like music and they like, uh, send kids to school, they look at education as a very important thing, so uh, from [cough] from, uh, grade school to uh, to um uh, before junior high school, I stayed, I went to the school, the elementary school in Miaoli and then, starting from middle school, high school, and, uh, college and so forth, I went to a different city. That's been about six 5:00years, I went to the middle school and high school both Hsinchu middle school. The Hsinchu middle school is located in Hsinchu [新竹, city in northern Taiwan]. [BS1]That's a little bit north of Miaoli. Ok, it took us, uh, at that time, the train, kind of slow and it would take us almost an hour to uh, to go from Miaoli to Hsinchu so I was commuting there to go to school for six years, you know. Every morning, going to Hsinchu, and uh, in the evening, come back to Miaoli and, uh we had a lot of fun with a group of people that, doing the same 6:00thing, ok? But the Hsinchu University, uh, no, Hsinchu high school, that was one of the best at that time and uh, so, after well, the sixth years in Hsinchu, uh, middle school and high school, I was pretty active in uh, in art work, sort of speaking. See, in Taiwan, every time that, when there is some kind of festivity, we uh, we put up the uh, some kind of board with the, uh, some kind of artwork, um, for example, the birthday of Chiang Kai-shek [蒋介石, historical leader of the Republic of China] who had Chiang Kai-shek's face there--, so, you know, I was the one who was always doing artwork for them, and um--
CC: What kind of artwork did you do?7:00
GC: I just like drawings and all the uh, like, very elementary sculpture thingsand uh doing all by myself, and I never had a formal training or anything like that, but, uh, I was highly interested in doing sketching and doing cartoon drawing and, uh, well watercolors and ... and uh, in my uh, my high school years, um, I participated in a lot of, uh, so called musical singing contest. [laughs] I did it all the time and uh, and uh, our [coughs] middle school, Hsinchu middle school is known to have a good, like a choir there, and uh we um, 8:00we did all kinds of recordings and actually, at that time, and a very long time ago, and uh, put into the records and we actually give away all these records to all the different schools and, uh, Hsinchu is uh, it's a pretty um, is a pretty high standard academically, so the, the, you know, when we graduate from, uh, the high school, the percentage of students getting to university is relatively high, and I, um, I first got into medical--medical school. At that time, like 9:00uh, most people, want to be a doctor. Probably easier to make a living, okay--so..
CC: From high school you go directly to medical school?
GC: Yes, um, the uh, the medical school is um, is located in Kaohsiung, asouthern city of Taiwan, and, uh, you started out in the, as a freshman in the medical school and after four years after that, then you stay there for another two, three years. Ok, for the uh, special training. So, I get [sighs], I went to a, first I went to the medical school and then I found out that, uh, I couldn't, I could not be a good doctor. When I look at all the sick people and you have to 10:00open up the uh, the stomach of a patient, I --I feel like I cannot be a good doctor, so I switched my field.
CC: What year did you enter medical school?
GC: Well, that's a long time ago, it's uh, oh boy, the early 60s, I think.
CC: And so you were 18 or?
GC: I beg your pardon?
CC: Were you 18 years old? Or...
GC: Yea, yea,
CC: 18 years old.
GC: About 18 years old
GC: So I stayed there for, a year, and then I transferred to an engineeringschool in Taiwan University.
CC: National Taiwan ...
GC: National Taiwan University, yes. So I spent, uh, four years at NationalTaiwan University. So, my major was the, uh, mechanical engineering, and, uh, at 11:00Taiwan University, I uh, I was pretty active, uh, not in study, but in different things and going to uh, parties, and music, uh.. I go to concerts and all kinds of stuff. And, uh, so when I, uh, four years later when I graduated from Taiwan University, I didn't get any kind of scholarship to come to the US. So, I went to Kansas State University, where my older brother - he's like, 10 years older than me -- he was doing a PhD program there. I went there and thought, maybe, uh, maybe uh it's safer that way, to be with him. In the meantime, I've got to 12:00find a part time job okay, to support myself and --
CC: So was your brother also mechanical engineer?
GC: No, my brother is uh, [in Chinese] nonghua [农化] agricultural chemistry.
CC: [simultaneously] agricultural chemist?
GC: He later on become a pretty, pretty successful, pretty known scholar. Andalso, he was in charge of research at Stafford Chemical. He was doing a PhD there, so I stayed there with him the first year, doing some, uh, some of the, the drawing, the um, what should I say that, it's uh was very odd--odd jobs and 13:00just try to make some money, okay.
CC: Who did you work for?
CC: Who did you work for?
GC: I worked for a professor in the chemical engineering department.
CC: That you got to know through your brother?
GC: He happened to be my brother's friend.
CC: I see--
GC: So I got there and this Professor Fan was a very very successful professorin the chemical engineering. He's got a lot of research funds. So, uh, I do the drawing work for them and this drawing work is for his publication and he was publishing a lot of a lot of papers. He's got a lot of frie-, a lot of students from Taiwan. All his students from Taiwan University, those are--are very, very good students. They help him out to publish papers and, uh, at that time, uh, 14:00all this Taiwan University graduates come through Kansas State uh, at that time, uh, a lot of course work is very easy for us. Like, uh, all this engineering, math, all this score system, we almost, everyone gets almost, if not 100s, then 90 out of 100s on all the tests. It's, so the Taiwan students were mostly doing very well in Kansas State and I um, I did not work for Professor Fan as uh, as his uh, as his student - graduate student - because, uh, I majored in mechanical engineering and he uh, he's a, in the chemical engineering department. So, after 15:00I worked for..for him for a year, probably a year or less than a year, I got a scholarship from the mechanical engineer department, ok, I remember his name is Professor Boyer, so I remember this person very well. He's got a lot of influence on me.
GC: Uh, Professor Boyer is a native Kansa- Kansan, Kansas, what are they called?Kansan? He was born and raised in Kansas, but with uh, with graduate study in CalTech. He became a PhD in CalTech and come back to Kansas State to be a professor.
CC: How did you get to know Professor Boyer?16:00
GC: Um, I did not know him before and I was working for Professor Fan in thechemical engineering...
GC: ... but, since my major is uh, is uh, mechanical engineering, I took coursesin the mechanical engineering and he, Professor Boyer was...
CC: Taught you
GC: ... was a, yea, was a professor in the chemical, in uh mechanical
CC: Mechanical, uh huh. Now, how did you, back when you were in, um, [inChinese] Tai Da [台大, NTU], National Taiwan University, how did you decide to go into mechanical engineering out of all of the possibilities?
GC: Well, ok, at that time, the uh, most people choose their majors based onjobs, ok? And everybody, and this is uh, everybody goes through entrance exam. You mark your, your first choice, all the way down to 128 choices, something 17:00like that and the first choice is something like, uh, doctors, medical doctors, and so on so forth. And uh, and then the second choice would be like, uh, engineers. I said most people, not everybody, um, and then uh, so, so you mark your choice based on all these uh, you know, uh economical reasons
CC: And do you get matched with the school? Does the school match you in aprogram? Or, uh..
GC: Well, um, the school, um... The thing is, ok, when you mark like a medicalschool and an engineer school, which, pretty much related to, to your ability to, your, to uh, to do... to achieve your academic work. Well, I wouldn't say 18:00that medical school is a tough school. As long as you can get in there. The hard thing is, though, that you have to compete with each other to get in there. Once you get in, the medical school is very easy. Engineering, or physics or chemistry, those are more difficult fields. And, but, a lot of people like to do engineering because it's easier to get a job and easier to get a scholarship to come to the United States. That's another big thing you're thinking of - to come to the US after graduation.
CC: Was that something that you had in mind when you applied?
GC: Oh yea, everybody, yea. Just about everyone is thinking of doing that.Well, obviously with some exceptions, but the, I would say about 97% of people were doing that. So uh, when we, uh, so, after we, uh, after a year of studying 19:00the medical science, I switched to engineering, ok, mechanical engineering.
CC: But was it difficult to, uh... was it difficult to switch to a different school?
GC: Not, not really. Well, the opportunity to switch--uh, is not, is not bad.All you have to do is just go back and do the entrance exam again. So, well, now if you're good at exams, then you can, you can get in pretty easy and the next year you go to another entrance exam, but entrance exams are pretty tough. This is like a competition among all the students and there are a lot of people there. And, uh, but we were... we were one of the top groups of people to begin 20:00with anyway, so uh, switch back to Taiwan University it, obviously it's a first choice. People all want to go to Taiwan University because, you know, they offer better education there. Also, tuition is very low. It's supported by... by the government. Yeah. It's supported by government, so it's the first choice. Everyone wants to go to Taiwan University. So, that competition is there.
CC: Did your brother also go to Taiwan University?
GC: Yes, he graduated from Taiwan...
CC: How many siblings do you have?
GC: Uh, I have five and among those [quietly] one, two, ...including myself, uh,four of us went to Taiwan University.
CC: And how many brothers and how many sisters?
GC: I have, uh, two brothers including myself and um, three boys and three girls21:00in the family. [laughs] So we total have six. Um...
CC: And were you the youngest? Or the...
GC: Yeah, I am the youngest one and uh, the uh, the oldest one is about twelveyears older than me.
CC: And, uh, did any of them have an especially large influence on you as a, asa child?
GC: Well, uh... Well... the... my brother, I think that my brother - he's liketen years older than me - um, the one in Kansas State..
GC: He ...
CC: What was his name?
CC: What was his name?
GC: Frank. Frank Chung. And, uh, he, uh, he's now living in California. Um,22:00obviously retired, and uh, he has been the so-called scientist - that's the rare title of a company to give it to him - "Scientist" - because that's probably the highest rank of people doing the research instead of doing the management and politics-- doing the pure research. He was a scientist there for, uh, well, after about I don't know how many years, and uh, he never gets... The company would like, the company kept him in the company for many many years because he, uh, he's good at, uh, the English and the Chinese,--not only Chinese--the 23:00Japanese in particular. So he helped his company to uh, to sell their product. There's a food ingredient company. It's called Stafford Chemical. Now they've changed their name. A French name. I don't even know how to spell it - how to pronounce it. Um, he was in charge of the research for many many years and he published a lot of papers in his field - the food science. And, uh, if you said influence to me, his influence to me is music more than anything else.
CC: His music?
GC: Yeah, he is a, like a, he collects records and is like big collectors and24:00he likes classical music and plays violins and so I, uh listened to his violin in my childhood and I became, uh, classical music lover because of him. And uh, he, uh, later on, well, like my brother, he uh, he has a special interest in collecting like certain performer's piece for certain music. For example, Beethoven's Spring Sonata, he would select like, a few, uh, violinist and uh, he would put them into his file - his collection, um, the uh, interestingly, when 25:00my son graduated from high school, here in uh Stafford High School, and he uh, he had performed a piece ok, it's a partial requirement of his graduation. So, he happened to perform Beethoven's Spring Sonata --ok--and my brother liked him--liked it so much, he put that thing into his collection.
GC: My son didn't know how to appreciate the thing, but I.. I appreciate it alot. I know my brother, you know, he doesn't just arbitrarily put anything into his collection. [laughs]. Well obviously one of the reasons is that he's my son, so, maybe that's why he put it into the collection, but, you know, I really feel like I myself feel like, you know, his performance is outstanding. Um, but my 26:00son, Raymond - Raymond Chung - he wasn't interested to be a musician, so he completely gave up his uh, his violin. I thought he was a very good violinist.
CC: How about yourself? Do you play any instruments?
GC: No, I don't play anything, but I sang. I, I sing... I sang a lot in theHsinchu University. Um, no, Hsinchu high school. Um, as I mentioned earlier that I uh, had participated in all these, uh, competitions and, uh, I get uh, get awards all the time, but I've never been formally trained, so, I've never 27:00been, uh... I never considered myself as a--as a really good singer, other than a good karaoke singer and that kind of thing.
CC: And what did you consider the most important when you were a child?
GC: Um, boy, I was interested in almost just every different kind of discipline.For example, I uh, well obviously, I was highly interested in uh, in uh art and, uh, music. Hmmm, I was also a top student in physics. Every time there is an exam comes in, the teacher would hand out the result and I was always the first one because he would do that, like uh, based on the order and you're the highest 28:00one, you have 100 or 99 or 98 and you're the first one. Almost every time, I was the first one, so I was good at that and also was good at the math. Um, I was good at um... literature. Chinese literature. You know, at that time, I did not --I did not hate... I did not hate anything. Just about all these courses, to me, were, you know, a lot of fun, you know? Um, when I uh--actually, um, I was, I was very much interested in poem, the Chinese poem. Ok? I was trying to write 29:00it myself.
CC: Which period of poetry - Chinese poetry?
GC: Um, Tang
CC: Tang poetry
GC: Tang dynasty. [in Chinese] Tang shi... Song ci [唐诗宋词Tang Dynastypoems, Song Dynasty lyric poems] --Well,
CC: So, classical poetry
GC: It's classical stuff. Yeah, you're right. It's classical. I never beenable.. I never enjoyed.. Never been able to appreciate the modern, the Chinese poet. Like Xu Zhimo [徐志摩], although some of them are not too bad, but I.. I never could appreciate them too much, you know. The classical Chinese poem that really really, uh, you got to [unclear] after you read it. It's so good and.. but I.. not the modern stuff. Maybe I--I did not know how to appreciate 30:00that. I don't know. The um.. so literature, actually, um. I was highly interested in literature, although, later on, my field, you know, it was engineering field. Science, engineering. But I was still interested in, uh, in the Chinese writings. As a matter of fact-- my wife gave me uh, a name, uh... In China, normally you hear a different name. It's uh, the name...
CC: Like a scholar name?
GC: Yea, a scholar name. You call it scholar name? She gave me a name. How doyou say that like uh... she thinks I'm better in the literature. That really, a 31:00little bit offended me, but you know, she thinks I'm better in literature than anything else! So she can, she gave me a name of a like a.. if you translate it directly, it is "better in literature."
CC: What is your scholarly name?
GC: Shiwen [适文] It's Shi means uh, Shihe [适合 appropriate], Wen isWenxue [文学 literature]
CC: [writes something] Like this?
GC: No, uh. I think I'll ask her to write it down.
CC: Sure, sure. Now uh, is this... do you consider this your, uh, Zi [字literati courtesy name] or do you consider it...
GC: [simultaneously] Well, in a way, she is.. she was right. In my uh, high32:00school year, I had a.. I had a Chinese literature teacher um as our, uh, [in Chinese] Jiren Laoshi [级任老师, homeroom teacher] - I don't know how you say that. [in Chinese] Jiren Laoshi [级任老师] all this uh, in your high school year, some teachers actually, take care of you for your, just about everything now, so, he happened to be a very achieved uh, like a, [in Chinese] wenren [文人 literati]. I don't know how you say that. He's from a very well-known teacher and he thinks.. he thought I should be doing like, uh, literature instead of going to all of these different science and engineering. 33:00Obviously, he did not know I was, in the future, I went.. I became an engineer. At that time, he-- at that time he did not know that, but he thought... He thought I should be uh ... I should be doing literature. Okay. Should be a writer and that kind of thing and um, interestingly, in his course.. He's the Chinese literature uh.. teacher and he would give a topic um... He gave a topic, um, once a, once a week... Give a topic for everyone to write an essay, based on the topic, ok? And uh, when you finish up, you go home, right? Well, each time, I couldn't write anything [laughs] 'cause I looked at the.. the title on the board and I just stared at it and I just don't know what to write and they give 34:00us like a... I think three hours, to write it before you go home, but once you finish it, you can go home first, but I never can write anything, so he gave me special permission saying I don't have to write his.. his title. I can choose my own title. Also, I can submit my essays any time I want. I can go home and write it and... and give it to him next week. He just give me special treatment like that because he thought I wrote very very good answers. Good stories and good everything, so I really... I did not really consider myself as such an outstanding writer, or anything like that. I never really considered myself as a good... so good at anything, but I uh, I was interested in doing just about 35:00everything. Well, maybe with one exception. In later day, in my, uh, engineering career, acoustics. Okay, I did achieve something. I had a tremendous breakthrough uh, to develop a brand new method of like, determining or measuring the acoustic impedance. So-called acoustic impedance. It's a highly technical term, but impedance is a very fundamental characteristic of acoustics. And, uh, the way I did it is completely different from the old traditional method, where the method had been around for 70-something years at that time. Because there 36:00wasn't any other method. And I, I started out with a completely different concept. I come up with a new method and nowadays, uh, this method became a ASTM standard. As you know, that's um, the American standard. And also become ISO, like an international standard. And I was um-- I was very proud of this and uh, one of the reasons that they named me--the Acoustical Society of America named me as a fellow - a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America -- it was one of those. This invention is uh-- is one of the reasons, um-- But anyway, that... but other than that, I didn't consider myself as a great artist or to 37:00revolutionize anything in art because I wasn't really, uh, deeply involved in it except for going to the art school when I was, when I was a little bit too old. I was uh, I couldn't, couldn't be a true artist when you uh, when you get to a certain age, you know, when you started too late, um...
CC: So let's talk about that. When, um, when you got your master's degree inmechanical engineering...
CC: ... you decided to get a second masters in the arts. Is that correct?
GC: Mmm, yeah.
CC: What-- what instigated that decision?
GC: Well, I always thought I was-- I was an artist, instead of like, a serious38:00scholar, and that, I.. I always had that thing in my mind. So, uh, one of my neighbors happened to be an art major. He lives upstairs from us. And then, um, then I talked to him a lot and then I get more and more interested in the art department after I talk to him. So.. so one day, I showed some of my artwork to..uh, to the department head of the creative art department and, uh, so he accepted me to be a graduate student.
CC: What kind of artwork did you show him?
GC: Kind of just some of my sketch, my paintings and that kind of thing andhe.. he thought I can skip the undergraduates and go directly to graduate study. 39:00Well, actually, I was a major in the... in the [background noise] yea, yea I.. at Purdue, I went to the art department at Purdue University and uh, I was in the industrial design, okay? Uh, not the pure art, like industrial design is design.
CC: So that's not in the art department?
GC: It is a creative art.
CC: Oh, okay.
GC: Creative art department. And you can be a tremendous artist and be majoringin industrial design or ... or graphic design and you can still be uh... doing 40:00very serious artwork, if you want to. But, uh, at that time, I was married and had to worry about my.. getting a job, you know? This is not something that artists should worry about. And, I did worry about a lot of things like how I.. how am I... how am I going to get a job or something like that. And then, uh, so obviously, you cannot be a good artist if you have to think that way. So, I decided that, this is it--after a year, I think a little bit more than a year, that I switched right back to uh, the engineering school.
CC: Did you get your degree in the art department?
GC: Yes, I got a masters in uh.. in, in art in industrial design. And then, uh...41:00
CC: What kind of design did you work on?
GC: Well, industrial design normally is you know, to think of a way to designbetter equipment, better furnitures, better you know, from artistic point of view and from functional point of view. Design a better, like a, just about everything. Your desk, uh, equipment, or, uh, whatnot. It's.. like all this equipment is designed by somebody and then normally they uh, they have a background in industrial design. To be a better, functional-- For example, if you, when you design something that, you.. you have a hard time to find out how you open that thing, that's a bad design. In other words, the industrial 42:00designer focused on, more on giving a product. Uh, the first-time user will know how to open the thing, very quickly, for example. Uh, that's industrial design. And also, industrial design has to do with, uh, um, like uh, environmental issues and all kind of uh, you know, the things that we worry about nowadays. Um, it's a, it's a very uh.. very useful field and it's a very necessary thing for people to, to study. Well, the uh.. the Scandinavian countries and the--Japan, they are pretty advanced in, uh, in industrial design. I, I still 43:00think, uh, you know, I was.. I, I'm still interested in this industrial design thing, but I never had a chance to really use it, other than... [sighs] I use a lot of my art background, which is not necessarily learned, I, I, I never learned anything in the art school, but used my.. my um, my art background to do my product design. All this uh.. all my boxes and everything, I did most of my, uh, yea, I had a box in my shelf there. Those are.. those are my designs. Well, obviously, I.. I, with the help of the designer - the graphic designer.
CC: Ok, and.. and you said you decided to not pursue industrial design because44:00you were married and you-- did you have kids already?
GC: Yes, uh, at that time.. no, not yet. Wait a minute. Did we.. Not yet. I uh,I had my first.. my first, my first one, Raymond Chung at uh, when I, when I get into General Motors research, uh.. so that was uh...
CC: So what year did you get married?
GC: I got married in... oh wow.. [laughs] I forget. In, uh, ok.. I should, Ishould remember all this.
CC: That's okay.
[Wife hands paper. Rustling sound.]
GC: Yea, 1975.45:00
CC: Oh, 1975.
GC: Yes, probably 50 years.
AC: [whispers] 67
AC: [whispers] 67.
CC: So you were married in 1967? Um [laughs]
GC: Oh yeah, yeah 1967. It's uh, yeah, you know. 1965 is the year I came toKansas State, so we got married two years later. 1967.
CC: Okay, and how um, how did you meet your wife?
GC: Oh, well uh, that's a very interesting story, uh.. I met my wife at TaiwanUnivers-.. Well, it's not really Taiwan University, but it's related to Taiwan University. One night, I was driving a bicycle, because I went.. tried to go.. I 46:00tried to go somewhere and my friend stopped me and said "Hey, do you-- this Saturday, do you have time, we go to a dance party or something like that?" And I said "wow, I have.. yea, I have time." So I went to the party and so I met, met Alice in the party. Um, so that was uh, what? How many years ago? Fifty some years? [laughs] Uh, so that was a long time ago.
CC: This was the uh, uh your first year at National Taiwan University?
GC: No, that's the second year.
CC: Second year.
GC: Second year. And, uh, yea, that was second year, so we met at uh, the danceparty and uh, get to know each other and then, uh, I don't know what happened. A year.. year after that, I was asked.. I was asked by the Taiwan University Choir 47:00to do a solo in one of the concerts. Now they.. I wasn't.. I wasn't.. I was not a member of that thing, but they found out I did a lot of singing, so they asked me to be a soloist in their... and then Alice happened to play piano to be.. she accompanied me in singing, and that's how we get to know each other even better. So, so that's uh.. that's our story, right?
CC: Now did both of you go to Kansas State University? Or just you?
GC: Yes we, we...She went to Indiana University, but we got married at theKansas State University. And she's got a Masters degree in, uh, from Indiana 48:00University, and, uh, actually she got a pretty good job at the Purdue University as a film librarian. Ok, but unfortunately I could not...I could not get a professorship or anything like in...if I graduate from Purdue, uh, so she had to leave the job, very good job, so. So we went to, uh, Detroit. So I took a job at General Motors Research Lab, and, uh, the General Motors Research Lab at that time is, um, it's a pretty good place for...if you really are serious about doing the research. Um. That is one of the very few place you can actually do 49:00research. Uh, without any interference, ok. And, uh, our Vice President in charge of research at that time...he's called, uh, Paul...Dr. Paul Chen. He's from Purdue. He's, uh, he used to be, uh, Dean of the Engineering School at Purdue, before he took a job as, uh, Vice President, in charge of research in General Motors Research. And he gave us a tremendous freedom to do research. So I spent, uh... I think I spent eight, eight years, at uh General Motors Research. And during that time, I developed the, uh, the acoustic impedance, the so-called Transfer Function Method of measuring the acoustics...the acoustic 50:00impedance. And, uh, also, I invented another... a brand-new method of measuring the, the so-called acoustic intensity. Um, prior to that time, nobody, no one measured their acoustic intensity. The, the whole purpose of measuring the acoustic intensity is to identify the noise source, right at the, at uh, at the source. Now, using a regular microphone...for example, in a noisy engine, okay, if you use a regular microphone on the engine, you won't be able to find the uh, the actual noise source, okay. Because it's so-called the "near field effect". Uh, the way I did it, is I, I measured the acoustic 51:00intensity...Intensity is, um, is a vector. That means it has a direction as well as the uh magnitude. So, my probe can tell me where the noise is coming from, just by scanning around the surface, on the object. So this one, will become very, very um....a lot of applications. And, uh, in 1980...yea in 1980. I remember that was October 1980. A, uh, a French company--it's owned by the French government...they organized a four-day conference on this acoustic intensity measure, it's talking about my, uh, my invention [to] measure the 52:00acoustic intensity. And this four-day conference, uh, there were like, uh, forty technical papers presented, okay, so, and all these papers talking about how they used my acoustic intensity measurement to solve their noise problem. Uh, I was their keynote speaker uh of this conference, and the conference was uh translated into five different languages. And, uh, one of those is, uh, Chinese. Okay, interestingly, I never, never met a Communist Chinese, okay. That, that was in 1980 okay. You'll be surprised later on I went to China, just about every year, but before 1980 there's very little interaction between the, um, Taiwan--the Chinese from Taiwan and the Chinese in the Mainland 53:00China. And, uh, after my, after the conference--the conference is a very successful one okay. And then after the conference, there are a couple of uh, the Communist Chinese soldiers, with the uniform, come to shake hands with me...[Chuckles] ...I was...very uneasy about it, but I was very, very proud that, you know, this Communist Chinese come to shake hands with me. He said, "This is it", you know, "all these Chinese need to be like you, like, be a leader." [Laughs] I said, "Oh? Yeah, okay thank you. Thank you." And I was thinking of something else okay. And uh, that's the first time I met the Communist Chinese, because in China, in Taiwan, our President Chiang Kai-shek 54:00called them like, uh, Gongfei [共匪 Communist thugs], thats uh like gangsters, or something. We called it like Communist gangsters, or something like that, so that's since my, like, elementary school year, we learned that those are gangsters across the uh Taiwan Strait, you know, those are...[laughs] And then all of a sudden I said, "Wait a minute, they're not too bad!" [Laughs] Anyways, you know, uh that was, uh, that was one of the, um, one of my...let's call it the invention because it's a brand new method through...to do the thing. Um, in the um, noise control field...so, all of a sudden, I become very, very active in um, in the um, acoustical engineering field. Like um, not 55:00only General Motors, uh, Paul Chen--I really appreciated that, you know, I, I did a lot to the lab, and organized a conference for the lab, and I become very well known internationally--they all know this is coming from General Motors Research, so Paul Chen was very happy about that.
CC: Who was Paul Chen?
GC: Well, Dr. Paul Chen, uh, is, uh, the Vice President in charge of uhresearch, General Motors Research. And we had like uh 800 employees, there, 95--98% PhDs. They all hire PhDs there okay.
BS: We've hit around the one-hour mark.
CC: Let's continue...
GC: And there for, um...and that the, uh...I was, uh, very at the peak of my56:00career, when I left General Motors Research. That makes everybody puzzled. Um. They were ready to, uh, to put the news ad about what I'm doing, probably not myself--probably pick like five or six, like, researchers, including myself, to put a news ad to uh, to a well-circulated magazine. It took the like two months to take a picture, to come to shoot, like, all the videos and take a picture, everything to try to get ready for... and all of a sudden I left General Motors Research. And, you know, they, they really, they were really 57:00puzzled why I left. As a matter of fact, I sold my house six months before that...so it's not that--obviously my managers wasn't too happy because that really shocked him, and then, he didn't know how to report to the Vice President, why this guy is leaving...
CC: Why did you, uh, sell your house six months in advance?
GC: Because I determined to uh, to come to Houston, okay. I already determinedto come to Houston, so I, I sold the house. Well, it's, uh... Exxon helped me, he bought...they bought my house. At that time, I don't think anybody buying a house in Detroit. The economy's so bad in Detroit. And, but, without, without the Exxon's real estate company to buy my house, I don't think 58:00anybody's, anybody's buying my house [chuckle]...so they bought my house, and, with a pretty good price. And, uh, so we moved to Houston, because I have determined that I will be uh, I will be doing my own thing. You know--
CC: Why? Why Houston?
GC: Okay, why Houston...because I have a couple friends here. Uh, later on,they organized a bank here. They sold their bank uh, not long ago. These two p-- two gentlemen, they uh, they want to work with me to, uh, create a business. So we, so we did.
CC: How did you get to know them?
GC: I forgot how I get to know them...because I've been communicating with allthese people at that time, and uh...the business atmophe-.. atmosphere in 59:00Houston is so much...is so different from, uh, Detroit. Almost no one is talking about doing business in Detroit. But I was highly interested in doing my own business. Particularly doing egg rolls. You know why egg rolls? Because when I was working for my PhD program, we happened to make some egg rolls to sell it to the local smorgasbord. And, uh, the so-called smorgasbord is all-you-can-eat place, okay. And, uh, we sold out the egg rolls so quickly that really, I was so impressed, I said, wow, this is better than anything else, you know. If you want to make money, why bother to be an engineer, why not just make egg rolls? Sell eggrolls, okay... So I thought, I'm gonna do...I'm 60:00gonna make egg rolls, okay. Regardless of what. But, this research, it took, you know, get me into such a busy research life, for the next eight years in the, uh in the General Motors Research, I was very active internationally, so uh finally, I, uh, I...
CC: How did you, when did you start, um, how did you learn how to make egg rolls?
GC: Okay, first of all, I was uh... I'm not a good chef. As I say, I'm notreally good at, good at anything, including chef, but I'm good at writing, uh, making the recipes. For some reason, I can sit down and write a recipe. I have 61:00like, uh, when I have Chungs Gourmet Foods, I wrote hundreds if not thousands recipes. Okay, among those, I used probably twenty of them, or thirty of them. I can sit down and write a recipe.
CC: So who cooks if you're not good at cooking?
GC: Well, um, I also cook. But I'm not like a big chef, like in the restaurantwhere you can do some fancy stuff and-- But I can cook some very good tasting stuff, okay. But it's not, nothing fancy. Just, just if you want a good egg rolls, I can make a good egg rolls [laughs]. Unfortunate, I forgot to bring my latest one, the breakfast one. I should bring some for you, but it's so good. Even I feel good! [Laughs]...that everybody else love it. And we're making...this is our new product. You know, the breakfast roll. And cheeseburger. 62:00
CC: So you learned to cook back in Taiwan from your family, or did you learn by yourself?
GC: I learned all by myself. And with little bit of help at the beginning,trying to learn how commercially they make egg rolls in the US. So I happen to have, uh, well, I really cannot call them a relative, but somebody in Cincinnati--they run a -- they have a restaurant. They have a real good, really well-known egg rolls. So I went there, stayed there for awhile, probably 3 weeks, to learn how they do it, okay. They were generous enough to show me how to do it. The owner actually was a PhD in electrical engineering, okay. And he was generous-- generous enough to show me how they make egg 63:00rolls. And, when I come back, came back to uh, to uh, to Houston, and I, I found out, I cannot make egg rolls in the so-called USDA inspected plant. Well our plant is the USDA inspected, so the inspector come through the plant like every day. Um, there's a certain rule, that the recipe and like all those ingredients, and you have to put a certain ingredient in there, okay. Now the egg rolls that my relatives in Cincinnati made, they use a lot of chicken fat. Which, we cannot do it here in our plant. So I have to change my recipe and uh...but one thing we uh, I recognize, is uh, they, uh, they're making, they're 64:00using the spice that normally you put into sausage. Okay. And that is pretty good--it's a good trick, because people are used to that kind of, spice profile. And, uh, so I just adapt that a little bit. Although, it turned out that is not an absolute necessity, but, to begin with, when I did that, I become very successful, so our egg rolls, become, uh, pretty well known. Um, the uh, it only take uh, it took about um, three, four years, for our egg rolls to go to nationwide distribution, like, uh, nationwide chain stores, and you know, most wi- housewives recognize this uh, brand like uh, almost 18 years later, but when 65:00I sold my company, and they did their research uh before they pay the big money, they need to know whether or not your Chung's brand is, is well known. Okay, so they spent a lot of money to do the research, and they found out the most housewives, knows Chung's egg roll, so uh, they um, uh paid big money for the name, okay, to buy the name. Um, interestingly, one year, I took my kids to uh, to skiing. I took my kids skiing almost every year at that time when they were in high school, and uh, they come back and talk to me and say, "Hey Daddy," they were really excited about it, and I said, "Well what, what happened?" He said, well, during the uh break, during the break, and they, they uh were halfway down and they stopped at the, for the hot chocolate and that kind of 66:00stuff, and quite a few friends get together right...they did not know each other, okay. They talk about ...for some reason they talk about egg rolls. They all know Chung's egg rolls [laughs], so, so, my son Raymond, and uh my daughter Peggy, they were very excited. "Daddy, they all know Chung's egg rolls, you know that?" And that was in Colorado, okay. So, uh, I, I was excited [laughs]...and, uh, and you know, as a matter of fact, the uh, this is how uh the, the investors at that time that uh, in 1999, they, they bought my company, and uh, after they do a, a lot of research on the, uh you know, in the market, to see how, how people know our product, okay. And still, nowadays, Chung's egg rolls is still a uh, a--if not the number one, it's the top seller 67:00in the nation. Well obviously that's not my egg roll anymore, because that's someone's, you know, I sold Chung's, sell my uh, last name, Chung's egg roll to somebody else, I cannot use the name. Um. The...my current company was uh established quite a few years after I sold the company. That was uh, well at least three, four years after. Because my contract said within, within three years, I, I uh, I could not make egg rolls.
CC: So do you still have a stake in Chung's egg rolls?
GC: You mean the shares?
CC: Mhm, the shares.
GC: Um, very little. Almost insignificant amount. But I wasn't in-, I wasn't68:00involved in the, in
operations anymore for many many years.
CC: Did you target, um, western consumers or Asian consumers?
GC: No, it's not the Asian consumers. Mainly just American, general consumersin the...so it's uh, the uh... Also Chung's... um. At Chung's time, like uh, before I sold the company, I called it Chung's, because that's the name of the product, the name of the uh the company. And now it's JYC. Uh, JYC actually is my initial. And I used JYC in all my publication like uh, scientific publications, I call it JYC, uh, that's, that's the name I use...JY Chung. 69:00
CC: So, what kind of, um, food do you uh, manufacture now, if not egg rolls?
GC: Okay, we're mainly, still mainly, doing the egg rolls, and spring rolls.Um, the spring rolls if you are not familiar with spring roll, it's the eh, it's the type of egg roll. It has uh, crispy skin...a very thin, crispy skin. So we make egg rolls with thick skins--we call it Cantonese style egg rolls--it's the thick-skinned egg roll. And, uh, Shanghai...Shanghainese-style egg rolls is called uh spring roll, with a very thin skin. Uh, we, we make both.
CC: Do you write your own recipes for these products?
GC: Yes, all the recipes...I, I wrote all the recipe for our companies. Um.70:00So we're still mainly doing the egg rolls, but uh nowadays, I develop different things like uh breakfast rolls, so-called, cheeseburger egg rolls, because nowadays, people looking for something like that.
CC: So, do you rely on your own intuition, when you write the recipes, or do youdo research?
GC: I don't do too much research, I...I just sit down and write it and then, tryit, and, very seldom I have to correct a lot...you know, pretty much the first time is pretty much right on. And then, then, maybe change once or twice, then become the final product.
CC: Do you have any training in cooking?
CC: When was the first time that you cooked?
GC: Boy, the first I cooked was probably when I was in Kansas State.
CC: And, uh, and all of this started with your first batch of egg rolls that you71:00sold, um, while you were at Kansas State, or while you were at Purdue right. So...
GC: While at Purdue, yes.
CC: How did...did you come up with that recipe as well?
GC: Yes, I did.
CC: What do you think is the greatest challenge in, in starting your uh, business?
GC: Okay, I think the, uh, the most important thing is the experience. Um, tostart at a business without any experience, is always uh, always uh, a uh, a risk. Now the um...now how do you get an experience, you either work with the people to get the experience, or you get your experience and fail, and that's not too good, and so, I think that, you know...all these years, I think, 72:00um...experience is one of the most important things. To learn that, uh, in what situation, you, you should put your money in there to...to invest...on your business or something like that. Okay, its uh...also if you have a, if a guy has a mentor, somebody who will teach him if he, if he listens. Okay, that will, that will help a lot. For example, if I, uh, if I retire next year, um, I can, I can, I can teach the younger, younger generation a lot about you know, what should be done, what should not be done. But at that time, when I, when I just started out, it's, it's pretty tough to make a judgement. And, uh, I was 73:00kind of lucky. Very lucky to uh, you know, to overcome a lot of difficulties. Uh, doing the business always run into...most people run into a lot of trouble.
CC: How were you able to avoid that?
GC: Well, first of all, um. To, to say uh, to avoid that, you, you never avoidit. You know, that things come, you know you just have to accept it. But uh, it depends on how you um, how you gradually overcome this kind of problem, okay. The uh, for example. When we--when we just started out, my first company, uh...I did not realize that the equipment I bought, which is the, the heart of my business...is the compressor, which do the cooling, okay, of my 74:00entire plant, and all the food. And I bought something wrong. It's a brand new stuff...a brand new screw compressor, okay. If I was experienced enough, I would probably buy something which is in the market for a while. This was a brand new, like, equipment, coming, coming out of the big company though, so I bought it and uh, [clears throat] that was out of order. That's a big deal. When the entire company depends on that screw compressor to chill product, to do everything, when that thing is down, down, and then, then the, there's nothing you can do about it, you can go out of business, easily. So I, uh, I was lucky 75:00enough to stay there, overnight, no sleep for two days, and, and try to fix it okay. But I cannot physically fix the screw compressor. I had to call the company, and they have a 24-hour assistant-- technical assistant to teach me how to, how to do this, how to do that...eventually I overcome this problem, and then make-- make it work, okay. Now, I don't know how many people can do that. You know, facing this kind of problem. But that's just one example.
CC: So you fixed your own compressor.
GC: Yea, I fixed the uh, I took it apart and fixed the compressor...just likewhen I did my PhD, my PhD thesis, I had to, uh, I had to install and assemble 76:00and disassemble a diesel engine--a big diesel engine, when I did not know anything about engines. [Cough] I did it all by myself. Um. But, if you have uh, a good concentration, and a good... I had a tremendous ability to concentrate on something okay, and uh that, that is probably my--it's my gift. I can, I can watch the...I was a big fisherman okay. So if the float doesn't, doesn't move for an entire hour, I can, I can stare at the float for an hour, even though that thing doesn't move at all.
CC: The flood...gage?
BS: The float.
CC: Oh the float, okay.
GC: So, you know not too many people has that kind of patience. And I, well, I77:00think you know in this instance it's useful. I would concentrate on fixing this compressor, and also I can do a lot of things, uh, continuously, nonstop, for a long time. Um well, so when you say what's important in business, okay, um, obviously, uh, the uh...the ability to uh, you know, to uh switch your way of doing thing is also very very important okay.
CC: Did you have, um, any mentorship or guidance from others when you startedyour company?
GC: Did I have one? No. I really don't--I did not have any.78:00
CC: How did you know, um, what types of equipment to buy and what kind offactory to, to open when you first began?
GC: Just, just ask around. You know, ask the supplier...they will tell you alot of things when they try to sell equipment, they will tell you, then you make your own judgement okay. Just like, like just like say I made a wrong judgement to buy this brand new screw compressor, which wasn't even tested...for a long time in the market, I'm pretty sure a lot of people get trouble with that thing, and I was one of those. Uh, the uh, so I, I, when you say, do you learn anything, I just...by asking around.
CC: Mhm, and how much of your own money did you put into your first company?
GC: Oh boy, I uh, to start it out I put all, all the money we have in this79:00business...even when we never actually thought about anything okay. I just, just went ahead to do that. Uh.
CC: And you were only a partial, uh, shareholder right? There were two other partners?
GC: Yea, the partner put some money into it... we total put about$200,000--that's really nothing to start out a company, so I borrowed some money from the city. At that time the city um, the City of Houston had a program to, to assist the company who's willing to build a plant, like uh, inside the city...city limit. So they give me a low interest loan.
CC: Was $200,000 the total amount from all three partners?
CC: Oh okay.
GC: Well, no no, wait a minute, $200,000 is their part. They chip in $200,00080:00and uh three years later I just bought them out--bought all their shares. Then they make a lot of money out of $200,000. I just, just bought their shares out.
CC: So did each partner put in $100,000 at the beginning?
CC: And then you borrowed a large sum from, from the City?
GC: I borrowed some money from the City, yes. I think the majority of themoney actually is borrowed from the city at very low interest...very low interest. And I was able to return the money to the city before it even matured, okay.
CC: Do you have any training in business?
GC: Not really, I um, I really don't have any formal training in accounting, oranything like that, but, to me, this accounting thing is, uh, logic. You can 81:00figure it out yourself although equation...the right hand side of the equation is, uh, in accounting process, on the right hand, my equations go to the left--its all ...but eventually it's the same thing, you know?
CC: Were you business partners your acquaintances in, in your PhD program? Ordid you meet them outside in the business world?
GC: You say my business partner in Houston?
CC: Yea, initially, initially, yea.
GC: In Houston, no, they are not related to me at all, academically. And uh,those people, they never even get involved in our business. That was fortunate, because, because I was able to run a business all by myself. They 82:00were not interested in doing that, they were interested in doing something else, like a banking business.
CC: So you me them through friends?
GC: Yeah, yeah, just a friend, and they just invest money, and they're notinterested in running the business at all. So I was doing it all by myself, which is fortunate, and uh if too many people get involved, I think it's gonna be a problem.
CC: Today you do, uh, business outside the plant right, you do some trading?
GC: Well, I'm importing.
CC: Yeah, import-export?
GC: Yeah, I import a lot of product, and I, I started importing in2000...2000....probably early 2000, after I sold the company in 2003 or 2004, and I went to China, actually for the purpose of making some device, based on my 83:00invention. I did some, I did quite a bit of invention of small-- small devices, and try to make it. And then, all of a sudden, I had a chance to visit the, uh, a food manufacturing plant in Qingdao I think--it's in northern China. And they uh, they say they visited me one time at uh, Chung's. And I remember they did, okay, uh they, they tried to persuade me to sell their product in the US. So after I visited their plant in Qingdao, I was very very impressed. Those plants is really, uh, they use a blueprint from Japan, and all that stuff...the food manufacturing things, and uh, their procedure, everything, is uh you 84:00know...even in the US, it's uh, it's the first-class. So I decided to import their products, the spring rolls to the US--it was a big success. So then when I import that thing, what, they use my recipe--I sent the recipe to them and say well do that, based on my recipe, and it was a big hit at Costco. Okay, and that uh is really amazingly, like, just one Costco region, they will buy like uh a few containers a month okay, so that's a lot of product.
CC: Was it difficult to get into the market of selling to big retailers like Costco?
GC: It is extremely difficult.
CC: So how did you overcome that?
GC: Well, the reason I was able to do that, was because I um, we used to sell --Chung's used to sell product to Costco. I was familiar with the channel, and 85:00how to do that thing. And also, familiar with the way they merchandise their product, percent markup, and what type of the, uh, allowance is needed to...all those things, you gotta be really familiar. You already design their retail price, okay. Not only you provide your product to them, uh, you calculate from the very beginning to the end of how much he's gonna sell that for, and eventually, if they accept the product, they will sell it at exactly that, because it can be very, it can be very accurate, okay, how much they're going to retail. So, so you know, you know your product will sell well, with uh $8.99 from Costco, a sale unit. And so you go all the way back to how much you gonna sell it to them. That's, that's how you design this thing, then you design how 86:00big the package you're gonna, you're gonna make it, in such a way, there's a lot of factors involved, because the package, size of the package, size, size of your master box, will have to fit their display windows, and all this kind of thing. You, you, you need to know a lot about this, uh, whole thing. So, once you, you're familiar with that, you design that thing, you present to them. They look at this; they know you know. They know you're familiar with the whole thing. So, uh, you know, if you don't know anything about how they're gonna market our product, how, how, how they're gonna charge here, all this different allowance, and uh, you won't be able to, you know, design a product for them.
CC: Before you became familiar with all of this, how did you...how did you doyour business to sell to these uh, retailers? 87:00
BS: It's 4:00 now.
GC: We just, uh, we just learn by experience. Year after year... for example,when I just started out and I, I did not know anything about how they, how they do it. But you just learn from, uh, from your broker. Uh, you know by uh, normally, you go through a broker okay, that's the most common things. Except for the Costco, or Sam's, you don't need a broker. Gonna save you a lot of money not to go through broker, because you already know more than your broker, about how you design a product, so. Uh, but, generally speaking, for all the retail, you need a broker. And they will teach you a lot of things, they will let you know, you know, how to do that. But years later, you learn from them. But you still need a broker, because they're the ones that really connect you to the 88:00buyer--with exception of the uh, like uh, Costco, and Sam's, and a few other things, and you can do directly, without a broker in between. Actually it become more successful because with the broker you have to pay the broker fee, that makes your product more expensive. So, that's the key to it.
CC: Did you ever have any conflicts, in your work?
GC: Uh, the conflict to what?
CC: Between you and your uh, coworkers or your...
GC: Oh, okay, the conflict okay. Well, frankly okay. A business run by apartnership is an extremely difficult thing. So in our case, uh, my partner is uh really, uh, a minority partners. So they're not, you know, they don't have 89:00a big influence on me. Uh, the business with uh, with a lot of equal partners, you have to handle very well. Otherwise, uh, I heard that most businesses with a partnership will get into trouble. Because it's so difficult. Um, I would not really recommend, like, to do business with partners. In my case, my partner is the minority partner--even that's just a lot of opinion there. Okay, you almost think of, you're the one who you're really sacrifice yourself, you do a lot of things for the company, and people may or may not understand that.
CC: And, uh, what do you consider your greatest personal legacy?
GC: Oh, I really don't think I have any, any special things, that... well, thepersonal legacy, I would say that, uh, my contribution to acoustic, you know, 90:00these two technology, I've always [been] proud of that, because it's uh, such a revolutionary thing that saved people so much money and time, and...to use my method, instead of using the old, the old method, and that is something I, I really think I achieved a lot. Um.
CC: Is there anything you wish you could redo, in your past?
GC: I beg your pardon?
CC: Is there anything you wish you could redo, you could, you could do over?
GC: Well, uh, there's a lot of things I wish I can start it over again. A lotof things, but uh. But generally speaking, I believe this is what it is. You 91:00know, regardless of, if I do it over again, obviously, I'd probably do it differently, but I may not get the better result, because this is a different time now. Now at that time maybe. If you go back to that time...but this is a different time, you do it again, and maybe it's a different, different problem. So, I think in general um, I think, I'm very satisfied with what I did. The first time, we organize, I organize the company, uh, start from scratch, we started with five people, including my wife. And uh, and then, uh, it didn't take too long, it took about 18 years when the company, I sold the company, uh, you know, successfully. So, I was satisfied with that thinking that uh...my training is uh, is science and engineer...I didn't, just like you 92:00said, I, I wasn't trained from a family that my, my...I did not learn from anybody about doing business, so I was a lucky... I always think I, I was very lucky, doing the business, during all these years, doing the business. Um. Because I've seen a lot of businesses uh, uh fail. Okay most of them fail.. And then in order to survive the thing you have to be extremely lucky. Obviously, one of the biggest reason that we survived, is the quality of our product. I think that's always, always contributed to our survival. And you know, the egg rolls, and uh, you know, a lot of people like our egg rolls, and 93:00still, I'm so glad they still like it. You know, well, I'm getting so old, my taste, taste bud is getting worse and worse, but I still, still maintain a good product coming out, so that's, that's a blessing.
CC: What do you have in store for the near future? What are your plans?
GC: Uh, well. I'm still... very much interested in doing invention. Maybepeople say you're too old to talk about it, but I still have two or three different items coming out, and which I think, I hope, that will be my biggest success in my life, okay.
CC: Can, can you talk a bit about what it is? Or is that...
GC: It's difficult to talk about it, but I can tell you one, one, one device isuh, the energy saver, which I think is going to be pretty big... Uh, that's all 94:00I can tell you...[Laughs]. And, uh, I have a couple of those, and I think it's gonna be pretty big, and uh, and I would immediately--I already started doing that, but um, I, I already start to compile my inventions, because I have a good lawyer, because I work with him for, for more than 10 years, because we know each other very well...more than 15 years, and uh, once I finish up my draft, I'll go to visit him, and he will read it and he will make up the uh, the initial application things so you know, it's uh, we've done it a lot, and uh, well, when I was in General Motors, and also at Exxon, I did a lot of invention 95:00also, for the company. Now this is obviously for myself. And uh, I, I...I have a high hope on it. Well, I probably forgot about how old I am, but yeah...
CC: Good. Well, we're getting close on time, so... [to BS] Did you have anyfollow up questions?
BS: Um, no actually I think, I, I wrote a bunch of things down, but then youanswered them during the interview.
CC: Good, good. Thank you for your time, um, we are kind of limited in theamount of time that we can spend with you.... but you gave us a lot of good personal history and advice, um, and I think, it's very obvious that, um, that there is so much that you have achieved, so,
GC: Well, I hope it's gonna be a useful thing. Hopefully it's gonna be usefulfor someone else. 96:00
CC: Absolutely! So thank you!
BS: Thank you so much for meeting with us.
GC: Thank you!
[End of Interview]
Houston Asian American Archive
Chao Center for Asian Studies, Rice University