The master craftsman who can make a pen sing

Forty-eight-year-old LiuGenmin, a veteranwith Shanghai Hero Pen Factory hasreceived many honors, such as the city’s “May 1” Labor Medal and the title of 2016 Shanghai Craftsmen.
Ti Gong

Liu Genmin works on a nib at the work-shop of Shanghai Hero Pen Factory.

IN the summer of 1987, Liu Genmin, who was then about 20, graduated from a technical school and entered the Shanghai Hero Pen Factory. He didn’t expect to work for 30 years at the factory’s pen nib workshop.

Forty-eight-year-old Liu is now a team leader of the workshop. He has received many honors, such as the city’s “May 1” Labor Medal and the title of 2016 Shanghai Craftsmen. As a frontline worker, Liu has set an example to his colleagues for his hardworking spirit.

Making a nib is the first process of pen production. The nib’s shape and quality determines a pen’s level. For decades, Liu has spared no effort to learn from his teachers and colleagues to make ideal moulds for the nib. He has worked out ways to improve quality while controlling costs.

The exhibition room of the factory displays a batch of special pen samples which have been used on historic occasions and international conferences. Among them is a limited version of 18k gold pen in celebration of the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997. This pen was produced by Liu.

The special pen couldn’t be made on old moulds, therefore Liu used traditional hand-making skills to design and produce the nib. After attempts on more than 100 nibs in several months, he and his colleagues created ideal samples in time, which were highly praised by the experts. They were dubbed heroes of the Shanghai Hero Pen Factory.

Liu has now become the technical backbone of the factory. The credits of his team also include 14k gold pen for the Shanghai Expo 2010, APEC meetings gold pen and G20 Summit gold pen.

Hero pen is a venerable brand from Shanghai, leaving behind memories for generations of locals.

However, as the years passes, time-honored brands have also faced challenges of losing their luster in a changing consumer world. Years ago Liu received lucrative job offers from other pen-making companies, but he declined.

“I love to work here for China’s homegrown old brand,” Liu said. “Time passing, only three graduates of our technical school class are still working here since 1987. It is a job that requires patience, concentration and study.”

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