b'standard of comparison had included NewBIRDS OF A FEATHER SUPERLATIVE EDUCATIONYorks JFK Airport, Chicagos OHare In- Early Monday morning, fatigued and stillPatrick and the rest of the international ternational Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson At- unsettled by The Shining, Patrick hadteam arrived at the companys magnificent lanta International Airport, Paris Charlesbreakfast before being picked up by a driv- manufacturing factory for a preview, tour, de Gaulle Airport, Londons Heathrower from the Singapore plant. He was off toand briefings. At the time of the visit, the Airport, and Tokyos Narita Airport.join his international colleagues at the com- facility was undergoing pilot test opera-Changi Airport was ultramodern, ultra- panys state-of-the-art medical productstions. The enormous, brand-new complex clean, and ultra-efficient from concoursesmanufacturing facility. It was a pleasanthad been strategically designed and built to to lounges, from restaurants to shops, anddrive through residential areas filled withsupply the growing medical product needs from baggage claim to customs and pass- low-rise and mid-rise apartment buildings.of the Asia-Pacific market region. The fac-port control. Next, Patrick noticed tall 20-foot polestory incorporated the latest and best tech-He anticipated the typical long wait formounted in orderly rows and columns onnology available to the world in the late passport control, luggage, and other tasks.several apartment lawns. A number of these1980s. Although the corporation had a What happened was quite the opposite.poles had bird cages, which were made of along history of building medical manufac-Within one hour of walking off the plane,variety of materials: teak, bamboo, stainlessturing factories in North America, Europe, he was comfortably settled in his hoteland South America, none of these facilities room. The airport not only operated morecould match the technology that amazed efficiently than Patrick ever expected, itexecutives saw in Singapore. For the first was a vision in contemporary design andIt was 1987, and Patrickstime, the company strategically employed operation. He recalls its sparkle: Japanese technology, equipment, and engi-I was astounded. Singapore Changi Air- international career neering know-how by melding it with the port was clean, clean, clean. It was large,was on the rise. Hisbest North American and European tech-open, and boasted lots of windows. Therenical knowledge and engineering that had were no big lines. At passport control, Istrategic market assess- been developed over 60-plus years.was in and out at once. There were plentyment and developmentPatrick was duly impressed by the won-of bays and lots of travelers, but few lines.ders of the Singapore factorys computer-Normally, there is always a hitch. Alwaysskills multiplied with eachization, automated manufacturing technol-lines. People complaining. Not so in Sin- ogy, machinery, and equipment. Yet what gapore. It was efficient, exciting, state-of-trip. As passport stampscaptivated him more was Singapores man-the-art. And not just the facilities. It wasincreased, so did Patricksufacturing workforce. The engineering de-the people. They were smart and knewsign, construction, and plant startup were their jobs well. They actually looked ex- appreciation for the orchestrated by a highly experienced team cited about work, and were certainly notrichness of other cultures.of engineers and plant managers selected just passing the day. There was no wast- from the companys North American and ed motion. It was a revelation! What didEuropean operating facilities. Before plant I expect? Modern, but not ultramodern.startup, critical steps for the international Ground transportation was equally effi- team included the recruiting and training cient. Before I even entered the exit doors,of local Singapore personnel for operating someone personally escorted me to a cab. steel, wrought iron, and mahogany. Thereand managing the enormous complex. As Patricks second surprise came in thewas an array of color among the cages.he toured the immense facility and com-form of bone-chilling eeriness that haunt- Most of which were domed. As they drove,mented on extraordinary technology and ed him for hours, days even. He checkedhe observed more poles, more cages. Thereautomated operations, he repeatedly heard into the hotel, unpacked, and went down- were people milling around with great in- from Singapore plant startup members that stairs for dinner. He was exhausted andterest. He, was fascinated. What was goingthe technology was indeed remarkable, but looked forward to a good nights sleepon? He watched as the cages were hoistedthe level of education, technical skills, and before the upcoming busy day. Instead ofup and down the poles by rope and pulleys,trainability of local plant personnel was nodding off, he tossed and turned, com- and later learned about the bird clubs andmore noteworthy. pletely unable to rest. What to do? Work,bird singing competitions of Singapore. OnPatrick was informed that Singapore no, he completed much of it on the plane.another day, he visited a park to see more.comparisons were in direct contrast to A movie, thats it. He chose a picture heFavorite songbirds were the merbok (ze- manufacturing personnel operating facili-knew nothing about, The Shining, starringbra dove), white-rumped shama, Chineseties in North America and Europe. Some-Jack Nicholson, one of his favorite actors.thrush, merbah jambul (red-whiskeredwhat shocked, he quickly asked: Why the Never, did he expect such a frighteningbulbul), and others. Patrick was told bydifference? It was because the Singaporean story. Alone in his room, at midnight, inbird owners that birds begin to sing whenworkforce was highly skilled and educated a foreign country, watching a horror filmthey are hoisted up into the air and breezeas a result of Singapores advanced system like The Shining had Patrick nearly shiver- where they have unobstructed views of oth- of education. One senior team member ing in terror. No sleep came that night, juster birds. This bit of melodic education ac- explained: Ill be very blunt and give you Patricks amazement that he could be socounted for Patricks third surprise. Therea clear understanding. We discovered that disturbed by a movie. were more to come. many people applying for positions here, CHESTERCOUNTY-LIFE.COM/ July/August 202067'