McLendon:Korean trip #8216;educational#039;

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 26, 2007

Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon admits seeing people have gainful employment and watching the city grow &#8220makes me tick.”

And as the elected leader of a respected community poised for a better future than its past, he has represented the area in a number of meaningful conferences, seminars, activities, events and meetings.

Few, if any, compare to his opportunity last week.

McLendon, now in his seventh year as mayor after a couple of terms on the city council, was part of a 25-person delegation that spent the week in Korea as guests of Hyundai, one of the state's brightest success stories, and a key player in central Alabama's optimistic future.

&#8220It was educational,” he said of the six-day trip. &#8220It was informative and eye-opening. We can learn a lot from the business leaders of Korea. It was a great opportunity, one that ranks up with the best I've ever had.”

McLendon, the mayor of Selma, the mayor of Prattville, the Alabama State University president, members of the Montgomery board of education, its county commission, its chamber of commerce, its sheriff and local ministers made up the guest list.

They toured the largest automobile manufacturing plant (1.6 million vehicles a year; the Montgomery plant builds 300,000 annually) in the world, the Hyundai home office, its shipyard, a variety of cultural attractions and even managed to play a couple of rounds of golf at exclusive clubs there.

&#8220We stayed busy,” he said. &#8220It was well planned and exposed us to their way of thinking, their approach to business and their culture.

Though different, the mayor said Americans might benefit from exposure to and application of business principles and practices there.

&#8220We're spoiled,” he said bluntly. &#8220The future of their company is important to all of the workers. They have a distinct plan and specific goals for their success. Where we might spend part of our day looking forward to quitting time or getting ready for the weekend, they think success is getting the job done and not being satisfied until the job is finished.

&#8220They like their leisure time just like we do,” McLendon explained. &#8220It's just that their focus is on their work. I was impressed by their commitment, by their push to make things happen, by their dedicated work ethic.”

He also said part of the Korean culture is to think big. &#8220Because we live in a smaller community, we tend to think smaller than might be necessary,” he said. &#8220They have big ideas, big plans and they seriously believe they can achieve whatever they set their minds to accomplishing.”

Admitting it was an honor simply to be part of the American delegation, the mayor pointed to the value of &#8220building relationships” and noted the exchange of ideas was on special benefit to Greenville and Butler County.

&#8220The interaction among Hyundai, Montgomery and Greenville is strong, deeper as a result of our time together,” McLendon said. &#8220They like our area, our people and we must keep working hard to provide the caliber of worker who can help strengthen the company and, as a result, themselves as well.”

He pointed specifically to the quality performance of Tier One suppliers by Hwashin AmericaCorp. and Hysco America Co. and the popularity of the Robert Trent Jones Cambrian Ridge golf course as key factors in the two-way commitment.

&#8220Even better days are ahead,” he repeated. &#8220Keeping our lines of communication open is important.”

Development of a new four-cylinder engine plant in Montgomery next year will solidify its Sonata and Santa Fe lines.