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Nova-Tech executive moving to China to establish overseas office for Willmar, Minn., company

Aaron Madsen, manager of the Nova-Tech’s sales and marketing department, discusses his upcoming move to Shanghai, China, during an interview Thursday in his Willmar office. Madsen will move to China next month to develop the Chinese corporate headquarters for the company that develops and manufactures equipment for handling and vaccinating newly hatched poultry. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

WILLMAR — Chinese customers are waiting in line for Nova-Tech products, and the company is quickly developing the infrastructure to deliver the goods and provide service.

A key part of that effort will be Aaron Madsen, who leaves on Monday for Shanghai to develop the China corporate headquarters for Willmar-based Nova-Tech.

Madsen, 33, is currently manager of the company’s sales and marketing department and will add the title of general manager of Nova-Tech Asia.

“My focus will be hiring people who will be able to sustain the business and hold our company values,” he said. The company values include collaboration, communication, agility and innovation.

The expansion to China has the potential to double Nova-Tech’s revenue stream, Madsen said.

Nova-Tech develops and manufactures equipment for handling and vaccinating newly hatched poultry, including turkeys, ducks and chickens.

The focus in the Chinese market is egg-laying chickens. China has roughly as many laying hens as it has people — 2 billion.

Customers are waiting to receive the company’s products, Madsen said, so there’s already a built-in market for Nova-Tech in China.

“For the first time ever, we’re actually shipping ocean containers full of them,” Madsen said.

The additional sales have placed demands on the company’s manufacturing and shipping departments. The departments have ordered shipping materials and learned the logistics of packing the shipping containers.

“I get to be the one that gets to go over there, but this whole team has been talking China for a while,” Madsen said.

Nova-Tech will establish administrative, human resources and accounting functions in Shanghai as well as a distribution house. The long-range plan is to open satellite offices in Tokyo and Bangkok.

While all that activity is taking place overseas, Nova-Tech will continue to manufacture its products in Willmar, Madsen said.

Many at Nova-Tech enjoy the idea of building things in this country and sending them to China, because so many items we buy here are made in China, he said.

Chinese customers are excited about a U.S. company setting up a headquarters in China, he said. “They see ‘Made in the USA’ there, and they know it’s a quality product.”

Madsen said he asked to be considered when the company’s management began talking about establishing a base of operations in Asia. “The opportunity is huge, and I’m really excited for it.”

Madsen’s wife, Billie, and their three sons, ages 13, 3 and 6 months, will follow in about a month, and the family expects to live there several years. “We’ve been packing for a while now,” he said, and their passports and visas are ready to go. Aunts and uncles may visit them in China. Grandmas and grandpas are “kind of sad.”

One of Madsen’s challenges in March will be to find a suitable place to live and have it ready when his family arrives, he said. A challenge for all of them will be moving from Willmar to a city of 20 million people.

The Madsens are looking at the move as an adventure, he said. The 13-year-old was a little anxious at first but is getting more excited about the move.

“I guarantee you our boys will be teaching us the language,” he said. Their parents will be trying to find living space and schools that provide some familiarity and still expose their kids to the Chinese culture.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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