Amway Salespeople From China Win Dream Vacation in U.S.

Expert Believes Amway May Have Taken a Lesson From Chairman Mao

Baizhu Chen, an associate professor of finance and business at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business and an expert on investment in the Chinese market, said that throughout Chinese history, political and religious movements have been organized on a grassroots level.

Chen believes that while some Chinese officials may view Amway as a pyramid scheme or a cult, other officials could view the company as a national threat.

"Once you mobilize 100,000 people from grassroots, this can quickly turn into something against the government," Chen said.

Amway also may be treading on turf very familiar to Communist Party officials.

"Chairman Mao required the party to be organized on the platoon level," Chen said. "One of the reasons the communist revolution was successful is because the communists have done a great job, a wonderful job of organizing the grassroots."

Chen believes that the Chinese population will embrace any company that offers good value. He pointed out that trust built on a personal level has been a Chinese tradition for hundreds of years.

Amway Trip Involves 'Staggering' Logistics

The Amway trip includes a visit to a company farm in Lakeview, Calif., where researchers develop new products using organic farming techniques.

"Coming to company property is a little bit of a homecoming, whether you are an Amway person from the U.S. or from China," said Kate Makled, manager of corporate communications for Michigan-based Amway.

Makled said the shear enormity of moving thousands of excited visitors is a herculean task.

"The amount of logistics that have to be properly coordinated and planned for is staggering -- the number of hotel rooms, the number of transfers," Makled said. "We have a rotating system of groups of right about 1,000 people that are coming and going and following a similar itinerary each day."

Stop at Citadel Outlet Mall

Another stop on the complimentary trip was the enormous Citadel Outlet Mall, a few miles south of downtown Los Angeles.

The process of moving from site to site is finely orchestrated using scores of bi-lingual guides with numbered flags. Thirteen buses carried more than 500 visitors.

As the buses arrived at the shopping center, the visitors rushed to the stores eager to buy goods, many of which were, ironically, made in China.

Watching the crowd arrive was Tammy Bekhor, a spokeswoman for Citadel Outlets.

"We're extremely excited," Bekhor said. "The tenants are extremely excited. We're all geared up to make everybody feel welcome. We've translated our mall brochure. It's all translated into Mandarin. We also have Mandarin-speaking greeters. We're ready for them to go shopping."

When asked about the number of Amway guests that will be arriving in the next few days, she said, "I have not seen this volume before and that definitely is something that is different with this Amway group. Never in my life have I seen 310 buses rolling up in 15 days."

Zhie Duan of Juangxi was looking forward to purchasing chic designer goods at discount prices.

"Things are more expensive at home, way expensive," she said, adding that she especially would be looking for panty hose.

During their 90-minute outing, the outlet mall was awash with shoppers wearing brightly colored Amway IDs and carrying lime-green Amway backpacks.

For most Californians, a trip to the mall is just a routine chore. But Yin Huang of Chong Qin was hopeful she might meet a Hollywood star.

"I would like to meet the state minister, Arnold Schwarzenegger," she said of the California governor. "If I met him, I would say I love him."

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