A maverick among Taiwanese businessmen, he projects the image of a gentleman who favors designer labels, sports a platinum watch, and owns hundreds of Chinese paintings. "We're not looking only for money," says Barry Lam, 52, chairman of Quanta Computer, which he founded in 1988. "We're looking for peace of mind. High tech is for a short time. Art is forever."
The Shanghai-born entrepreneur may love art, but he's also a hard-driving computer entrepreneur. And ironically, as the computer industry endures its worst slump in years, Quanta is on a tear. It is piling up orders for its notebook computers as cost-cutting U.S. and Japanese companies outsource production. In the first four months of the year, Quanta's sales jumped 50% over the year-earlier period. Lam predicts revenue for the year of $4 billion. "The recession doesn't affect us that much," he says.
To keep customers coming, he is speeding up assembly times. He now produces a computer in 48 hours, vs. 72 a year ago. He'll soon cut that down to 24. Lam urges his workers to think about art, too--but only after they're done making hot-selling PCs.