Wanxiang Group founder Lu Guanqiu had little formal schooling. He was raised in a village outside Hangzhou, China, a city two hours southwest of Shanghai, and moved to Shanghai as a teenager to find work.
After founding Wanxiang, now a major supplier in China, he studied on his own, eventually earning a master's degree in business from Hong Kong Polytechnic University and a Ph.D. from a Chinese university.
Lu talked with China reporter Alysha Webb at his headquarters outside of Hangzhou about boosting income and overseas expansion.
Wanxiang has set a goal of raising its income 25 percent each year until 2009. How do you intend to achieve that?
We will grow our market share by rigorously improving our product standards to meet the market's demands, attract new customers in new markets, and attract new customers in the markets we are already in. In those markets, we need to come out with new products.
Who is your most serious competitor?
Foreign-invested companies doing business in China.
Basically, their technology is stronger than ours. When they enter the market in China, they add our advantage of cheap labor to the stronger technology. I don't fear local companies, and I don't fear foreign companies. But when a foreign company has the added advantage of China's cheap labor, that's really formidable.
How are you expanding your exports?
We are now opening new markets country by country. In the first step, we start selling out products there. In the second step, we look for ways to cooperate with companies in those countries. We grow that cooperation step by step. We become shareholders in some foreign companies; in some we become majority shareholders.
How much are you planning to invest in the United States by 2009?
We plan to increase our investment. Currently we're talking to a lot of big companies in the United States about cooperation -- for example, General Motors and subsidiaries of other companies. Some are manufacturers, some are not. This cooperation isn't sales. It is technical development or joint investment.
You may e-mail Alysha Webb at [email protected]