It's 5:00 a.m. on a drizzly morning and Robert Yeh, Everlight Electronic Co. Ltd.'s 58-year-old chairman, is already out on the National Taiwan University track for his customary 40-minute run, as he has done every day, rain or shine regardless of season, for the past 20 years.
Three hours later Yeh arrives punctually at Everlight's Tucheng headquarters, ready for work.
Like a tightly disciplined military unit, Everlight's 500 employees arrive at 8:00 a.m. sharp and gather en masse in the 7th-floor cafeteria for roll call and 15 minutes of calisthenics before each department heads off for their morning meetings, at which the day's key assignments are delineated.
Twenty-seven years ago, Yeh founded Everlight with NT$5 million in capital, initially operating in leased plant space, producing indicator lights for home electronics. Since then, he has counted on discipline and perseverance to turn his company into Taiwan's leading LED packaging enterprise, with a monthly production capacity of 800 million units.
Despite cutthroat competition from major Japanese and South Korean manufacturers and beset with patent pitfalls, Everlight has managed to maintain its grip as the world's number-seven LED packager.
"I'm not any more gifted than anyone else, I just work harder," says the native of Yuanli Township in Miaoli County. More than 30 years ago, he left rural Miaoli with NT$2,300 in his pocket and headed to Taipei, working part time while studying at Taipei Institute of Technology.
Incessantly Meticulous Management
Outsiders often mistakenly believe that the technological threshold involved in LED packaging is low, that it is the "underclass" of the high-tech industry. What they don't appreciate is that for an LED packager to achieve a low defect rate and minimal luminosity loss requires not only the appropriate materials, machinery and chemical engineering processes, but also a highly meticulous managerial process.
And Yeh's hands-on supervision is incessantly focused on ever greater levels of precision.
"I want to see every number out to the third decimal, labor expenses, inventory, once a week," he says offhandedly.
More than 10 years ago when Everlight was brought into Sharp's supply chain as a supplier of LED bulbs, Yeh began to demand a defect rate of one percent, recalls Liu Pang-yen, general manager of Everlight's production business group, a close colleague of Yeh's for 23 years.