The Kiwanis Club of Lebanon met Monday at Sammy B’s Restaurant where Mayor Bernie Ash gave a presentation on a recent trip to China as the guest of American Wonder Porcelain, whose parent company is based in Dongguan City, China.
The China-based Wonderful Group is a division of Marco Polo and the largest producer of ceramic tile in China. It opened American Wonder Porcelain, a $200 million investment, in April 2017 on State Route 109 in Lebanon. The facility has about 170 employees and plans to expand its staff.
Ash, along with Lebanon public works commissioner Jeff Baines, Wilson County Joint Economic and Community Development Board executive director G.C. Hixson, Wonder Porcelain Group chief financial officer Charles Huang and Wonder Porcelain group president and CEO Michael Kephart, went to China for a week where they toured facilities and met with business and government leaders.
Ash joked the visit was like “The Rutherford Hillbillies go to China,” but said it was a great learning experience personally and professionally.
“The Chinese people we met were wonderful – very, very nice people,” Ash said.
Ash presented a slideshow of the visit, which included a trip to the manufacturing facilities, the seven-story company headquarters and what he described as an impressive porcelain museum with 2,000-year-old artifacts.
Ash also said there was talk between Dongguan City and Lebanon to become sister cities in the future.
American Wonder Porcelain also donated tile for the new Lebanon fire station No. 4 on State Route 109 and the planned new police station in Lebanon. A ribbon cutting for the new fire hall will be Thursday at noon at 6250 E. Division St.