As Chinese factories throughout the 1990s jumped into one high-tech industry after another -- semiconductors, pharmaceuticals, fiber optics -- Tony Yu was there to provide pumps and piping at the lowest possible cost. "You didn't need to be good. You needed to be there," he recalls. Sales hit $20 million last year before China's industrial economy hit the wall, and now Yu faces the same problem as fellow entrepreneurs around the world: How to reinvent a go-go company for go-slow times.

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