Saga Finds Unusual Source for Violin Bow HairShhhhhhhhhh February 2007

In the mid 1980s the price of violin bow hair was skyrocketing upwards. The supply was controlled by a few European middlemen and they were seemingly quite content to let the prices rise indefinitely. I saw bow hair in the violin factories of China but they weren’t selling it separately. So through our newly opened office in Shanghai we were able to find a source for horse tails from the Steppes of Inner Mongolia. Our office was not able to export directly but our supplier indicated that he could take care of everything. So we started and immediately changed the market for bow hair—we were shipping the stuff all over the world! The first transactions were managed by our staff in Shanghai so I had not met the leaders of the export company and I was pleased to accept a dinner invitation on my next visit. I was expecting to be with herdsmen and was quite surprised to be picked up at my hotel by a driver in a Mercedes- Benz. The restaurant was superb and the upper management of the Export Corporation spoke excellent English and we had a lively conversation. I asked the director to give me a little background about his company. He chuckled and started in: The annual turnover was somewhere in the billions, real estate in Hong Kong, airport projects in the Middle East, mining in Africa…gads! By this time he was laughing and he asked… “I guess you’re still wondering who we are? Well, perhaps you will be surprised to know that we are the RED ARMY!” I nearly fell off my chair but there we were… and it was to late to turn back. In the 80’s, the People’s Liberation Army had the largest operational cavalry in the world and it wasn’t long before all the white ones were running around without tails! Five years later The Wall Street Journal had a feature article describing the prominent role being played by the Red Army in China’s development and mentioned by name our horsehair supplier. If you’re near your computer punch in “China Xinxing Corporation” and you will see that our old supplier is still there… apparently prospering. I hope they haven’t forgotten, that it was Saga that gave them their start! …and I hope, that YOU will now forget everything that I have told you!

Richard Keldsen
San Francisco
February 2007

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