Tech superiority the key to Dow’s success
Peter Wong, presence in China was limited to its Shanghai headquarters and a few offices in Guangzhou and Beijing. Today, it has nine business centers in cities such as Chengdu, Harbin and Wuhan. They have also just opened a new Xinjiang office in September, becoming the first multinational chemical company to operate a business center in the region.
Dow currently runs 17 manufacturing sites and has 3,500 employees in China. Its annual sales in China last year was $4.3 billion. About 90 percent of Dow’s sales in the country come from technology and market-driven businesses.
In addition, the company is always looking to cooperate with local and international brands such as Huawei, Bluemoon (liquid soap and laundry detergent), Procter & Gamble and Apple.
“We have changed our perspective about local competition — we respect and learn from them. They know what’s going on and are much faster and more responsive, which are needed by the customers,” said Wong.
Founded in 1897, the US company is one of the largest chemical manufacturers in the world and its annual sales last year hit $58 billion. Dow, which has been in China since the 1930s, now employs about 53,000 people worldwide and has more than 6,000 product families manufactured at 201 sites in 35 countries across the globe.
The company is known for driving innovations that extract value from the intersection of chemical, physical, and biological sciences to help address many of the world’s most challenging problems, such as the need for clean water, clean energy generation and conservation, and increasing agricultural productivity.
Dow delivers a broad range of technology-based products and solutions to customers in approximately 180 countries and in high growth sectors such as packaging, electronics, water, coatings, and agriculture.
“We are a solution provider, with an extensive range of innovative and sustainable technologies to address demands in food safety and security, infrastructure, energy efficiency, and environmental protection,” said Wong, who was born in Hong Kong and has worked in Dow for 25 years. “We are trying to offer a better, cleaner and healthier life for our downstream customers by inputting our technology to all aspects of life — from washing machines to car parts to running shoes.”
Wong foresees that innovation and a growing awareness of health issues will start to have a greater impact on the Chinese economy from now, and Dow’s strategy is to create products that satisfy both criteria.
“We try to understand where and what the problems are, and think how we can use our technology to solve these problems,” said Wong.
One of Dow’s latest innovations is a collaboration with Haier, a leading electric appliance maker in China, following a partnership between the two companies.
Haier’s new Casarte washing machine adopts Dow’s Purinze ultrafiltration module, which runs continuously during washing. Composed of porous hollow fibers about 20-30 nanometers in diameter, the module allows water molecules to pass through while blocking bacteria and mites. As a result, as much as 99 percent of common bacteria and mites, as well as other dirt and contaminants are removed from the water and discharged from the washing machine. Because of the filtration performance, water consumption is reduced by more than 30 percent.
“The water in the washing machine is always clean as we have put a water cleaning unit inside the machine. You can even drink the water after you’re done washing the clothes,” said Wong.
Dow may be an American company but we can be as local as any Chinese company. We learn from local companies to understand the market, make fast decisions and make sure we are responsive.”
president of The Dow Chemical Company in China
Peter Wong believes that innovation will soon have a big impact on the Chinese economy and Dow is well placed to deliver on that.