Largely missing in press pieces are clear references to her husband, Wu Liangding, and his role. Her biography does not mention his name. Wu, counted as one of the richest individuals in China, made his fortune in textile machinery and real estate and has a net worth of about $1.1 billion as of Oct. 24, according to Forbes. Some press reports state that it was Wu, not Chen, who founded Wanfeng. One report claims that Chen once worked for Wu's company, another that Wanfeng was spun off from Wu's textile machinery company, Zhongbao Holdings.
Clearly, though, Chen is acting chief of the company, which went public in 2016. A push that same year into robotics resulted in a second North American automotive acquisition: Paslin Co., of the Detroit suburb of Warren, for $302 million. Paslin got its start in 1937 stamping auto parts; today, it primarily supplies welding robots as a unit of Wanfeng Technology.
Chen more recently directed the company to enter the aviation business. Late last year, it acquired a 60 percent stake in Diamond Aircraft Industries Inc., a producer of small airplanes with operations in Canada.
Still, five years ago, when Wanfeng representatives walked into Meridian's North American corporate offices in Strathroy, Ontario, to discuss its acquisition, the local team knew of Wanfeng as a company, but not much else.