In this We Are f-stop we are taking a look behind the scenes at one of our production partners with Filip Arsov. Filip is a Community Specialist for f-stop, taking care of the Ambassadors the Asia and Pacific region, and helping run events like Hangouts and Photo Crawls in Asia. Getting hands on with production not only ensures quality control but also builds a deeper understanding of our packs.
Words and photos: Filip Arsov / Falk Hicke
One of the benefits of working for f-stop gear is having the chance to see the whole process of how the products are made from scratch, and I got that chance to visit our factory in WeiHai, China, a couple of months ago. It was a great experience and a big learning point for me because until then I only knew how they are made from videos, photos and stories. This experience will help me better understand the products, how they are made and how longs it takes to make one.
First day - getting the tour
On my first day there I got a tour of the factory and I was welcomed with a lot of smiles and laughs. I was walking from one station to another, seeing how the pieces are made, pieces that are part of a big jigsaw that is the final product - the f-stop camera pack. The workers in the factory were not fluent in English, but they seemed to understand me and replied to all of my questions in their mother tongue, and with the help of our interpreter we figured out who is doing what. Before I left the workshop, I found myself holding a handful of banana ice creams that were also given to the workers to cool them down in the summer heat. This happened multiple times during my stay there, and I have to say, the taste of the ice cream was amazing.
Quality inside and outside of work!
The next 13 days we were all hands-on deck, working and checking the products before they are prepared for shipping. The machinist and production staff were really helpful. They showed me the full process starting from how they source the materials, then how they cut the materials, how the products are made, and how they check the quality of the final product. Every product that left the factory went trough couple of quality checks, including mine to ensure that the products that left the factory are have premium quality.
Product was not the only thing I did while I was there, though! I had to try the amazing Asian cousine. One of the things that I was most excited about was the teppanyaki cuisine, which is something I have never experienced before, and I have to say that it exceeded my expectations. The food was amazing, the people were nice, and the chef guided us through his ingredients as he was cooking the food. The night ended with a knife show, along with some amazing beer.
The final step - shipping out around the world
With end of the trip coming up, there was one last big thing for me to do before leaving - see the products being put on a container and shipping them to our warehouses. The containers arrived, and the factory crew started the loading process. The process was fast! They had a strategy where while one group was bringing boxes from the factory, the other crew was loading them to the container and a third group was sorting them in the container, so that they don’t fall down while they are on water. The team did an excellent job, and the loading took just 3 hours. We did a final check, locked up the containers, and saw the products sent out on water.
By this point, the packs had passed through dozens of hands before they were put into a box and shipped to our warehouses around the world. Seeing this gave me an extra appreciation of the work that happens at each step of this way.
After all this, my trip back to Europe to my home town in Macedonia was about to start, but not before meeting up with a friend and Ambassador @Henry CK to grab a well deserved drink in one of the tallest buildings in Hong Kong, the International Commerce Centre. Enjoy the views!