A MAN OF MANY TAL­ENTS

Self-made busi­ness leader from Jilin de­fies ex­pec­ta­tions, bound­aries of in­dus­try, re­ports.

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - ENTREPRENEUR SPECIAL -

Ale­gendary busi­ness­man in North­east China’s Jilin prov­ince, Wang Li­hui is cre­at­ing suc­cess sto­ries in dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries rang­ing from real es­tate to tex­tile and mod­ern agri­cul­ture. How­ever, few know that his achieve­ments over the past 20 plus years started with just a sim­ple urge “to do some­thing” with him­self.

Af­ter his grad­u­a­tion in 1987 from Shang­hai-based Tongji Univer­sity, Wang was as­signed to work in a Sta­te­owned ce­ment plant in Dalian, Liaon­ing prov­ince.

Easy and with a high salary, it was an en­vi­able job at that time.

But af­ter be­ing ex­posed to the more open world in Shang­hai for four years, Wang soon felt bored with his rou­tines set out to try some­thing new.

He quit the job in 1989 and started up a small home dec­o­ra­tion com­pany in his home­town of Liaoyuan in Jilin prov­ince.

The main busi­ness of his com­pany, which started with just 10 work­ers, was to white­wash room walls and cor­ri­dors.

The first pro­fes­sional white­wash­ing com­pany in Liaoyuan, it soon es­tab­lished a rep­u­ta­tion in the city for qual­ity work.The com­pany later even made in­roads in large cities in North­east China like Changchun and Shenyang.

As the busi­ness grew, so did Wang’s work­load, but he re­tained his childhood habit of read­ing and con­tem­pla­tion be­fore go­ing to bed, which he said proved help­ful in mak­ing de­ci­sions later in his ca­reer. In 2000, af­ter work­ing more than 10 years in the home dec­o­ra­tion in­dus­try, Wang be­gan to re­al­ize the huge po­ten­tial of the real es­tate in­dus­try in China and es­tab­lished a prop­erty de­vel­op­ment com­pany with his part­ner Tian Zhongjun.

Their com­pany soon set an ex­am­ple for its com­peti­tors in Liaoyuan by build­ing the city’s first gated com­mu­nity and cre­at­ing prop­erty com­pany to man­age it.

Seiz­ing the mo­men­tum, the com­pany rose rapidly and has grown into a lead­ing prop­erty de­vel­oper in the city.

With a reg­is­tered cap­i­tal of 42 mil­lion yuan ($6.9 mil­lion), it has paid more than 60 mil­lion yuan in taxes and of­fers hun­dreds of job op­por­tu­ni­ties. Af­ter ini­tial suc­cess in real es­tate, Wang and his part­ner de­cided to fur­ther ex­pand their em­pire in 2005.

But this time they chose a project com­pletely un­re­lated to what they had done be­fore— an in­dus­trial park for man­u­fac­tur­ing sock. Once again it proved a wise in­vest­ment. Cov­er­ing

1.3 mil­lion square me­ters, the park now houses 565 en­ter­prises that form a com­plete in­dus­trial chain from raw ma­te­rial pro­cess­ing, weav­ing and knit­ting to lo­gis­tics and dis­tri­bu­tion.

Em­ploy­ing a to­tal of about 35,000 peo­ple, they are ex­pected to pro­duce 5 bil­lion yuan worth of socks in 2013 now that the park has se­cured con­tracts to ex­port to dozens of coun­tries, in­clud­ing the United States, the United King­dom, Ja­pan and Ger­many, ac­cord­ing to its web­site.

More than a sim­ple in­dus­trial park, it of­fers help to young peo­ple who want to start their own busi­nesses. By Septem­ber, some 1,100 col­lege grad­u­ates had es­tab­lished more than 130 com­pa­nies in the park. Due to its achieve­ments, it was rec­og­nized as the most in­no­va­tive en­ter­prise by the China As­so­ci­a­tion of Small and Medium En­ter­prises and was des­ig­nated by the Jilin pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment as a key project in its 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10).

In late 2011, Wang and his part­ner Tian de­cided to ven­ture fur­ther into the un­known, and this time they choose agri­cul­ture to take ad­van­tage of op­por­tu­ni­ties brought by the ur­ban­iza­tion drive in Jilin prov­ince.

They started in Jinzhou town­ship, one of 22 towns listed in Jilin pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment’s pi­lot ur­ban­iza­tion pro­gram, by build­ing the Jinzhou Mod­ern Agri­cul­tural Park in co­op­er­a­tion with the Dongliao county gov­ern­ment in Liaoyuan city.

Their com­pany Jinzhou Mod­ern Agri­cul­tural De­vel­op­ment Co Ltd has been au­tho­rized by the county gov­ern­ment to pro­mote Jinzhou town’s ur­ban­iza­tion process and also des­ig­nated as the de­vel­oper of the 100-sq-km Zilu Lake wa­ter­shed in the county.

Fol­low­ing the prin­ci­ple of pro­tect­ing farm­ers’ in­ter­ests, eco­log­i­cal re­sources and folk cul­ture, the com­pany plans to in­vest 2.9 bil­lion yuan over five years to mod­ern­ize agri­cul­ture and im­prove the pub­lic’s qual­ity of life.

In five years, the town­ship’s in­dus­tries will gen­er­ate an­nual rev­enue of 550 mil­lion yuan, and the ur­ban pop­u­la­tion will reach 23,000, ac­count­ing for 88 per­cent of the to­tal, ac­cord­ing to pro­jec­tions by the lo­cal gov­ern­ment.

A suc­cess­ful en­tre­pre­neur, Wang has al­ways ad­vo­cated a phi­los­o­phy of giv­ing back to so­ci­ety.

Over the past 20 plus years, he has do­nated some 5 mil­lion yuan to char­ity pro­grams, ac­cord­ing to his col­leagues.

One ex­am­ple is that he do­nated 400,000 yuan and mo­bi­lized his em­ploy­ees to of­fer ma­te­rial relief im­me­di­ately af­ter the earth­quake struck Wenchuan county, Sichuan prov­ince in 2008.

In 2010, heavy rains caused floods in his home city of Liaoyuan.

Hear­ing the news, he do­nated 200,000 yuan to re­set­tle the vic­tims.

While pro­mot­ing ur­ban­iza­tion in Jinzhou, Wang has been of­fer­ing help to or­phans, poor chil­dren and se­niors in the town­ship.

Since 2011, he has do­nated some 800,000 yuan to lo­cal schools and nurs­ing homes.

Wang Li­hui pic­tured next to a green­house from one of his agri­cul­tural projects (Bot­tom Right) Wang signs a con­tract to co­op­er­ate in the field of agri­cul­ture with John Mosvold, gen­eral man­ager of Hol­stein In­vest in Nor­way.

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