In the Trenches with bambu: Born in Oregon, proudly made in China

Jeff Delkin, the piece's author, and Rachel Speth are principals at bambu.

Jeff Delkin, the piece's author, and Rachel Speth are principals at bambu.

Editor's note: This blog, by bambu principal Jeff Delkin, is part of SBO's In the Trenches series.

We started with a single idea, a lot of passion, and a bit of blind courage: To turn people onto renewable materials, and to lessen the impact we place on the earth's limited natural resources. That's what inspired my partner, Rachel Speth, and me to leave our U.S. jobs, move to China and start our business a decade ago.

Our company, bambu, is headquartered in Shanghai where our team oversees development and production. We are an American-born brand. But we have a unique business structure in that the principals reside at the location of production. We couldn't do what we do without being here "at the source."

The bambu product range consists of cutting boards, serving trays, bowls, kitchen tools, office and travel products-all made from renewable, low-impact materials. Everything in the range is handmade, or has a high degree of "handmade-ness" in its creation.

Our company values are reflected in the products, instilled in our processes and are supported by our team. A common belief system and a well-defined process can overcome culture gaps and language challenges.

In the beginning, we didn't have the wisdom to avoid the early pitfalls of operating a business in China. But patience, persistence and passion have served us well in helping overcome the challenges that all businesses face starting, and operating successfully in China.

Living in China, we work directly with our production partners. We guide, learn and interact with the craftspeople on a daily basis, and work to build in high quality standards, socially responsible practices, and greater efficiencies into our work processes.

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