An interview with Mr. Zhou Wenhui, Chairman of the Board of Zhongshan Meitu
Established in 1992, Meitu’s operation began from a rented factory with an area of only a few hundred square meters, and now it has successfully developed into a large enterprise with more than 2,500 employees, covering an area more than 150,000 square meters, including 90,000 square meters for production. Meitu has been focused on the development and manufacture of sanitary ware and has maintained a long-term cooperation with many well-known domestic and international sanitary ware manufacturers, including American Standards, Toto, Arrow, Heggi, etc. Meitu invested RMB 400 million and built a new facility in Tianjin in 2010 to further strengthen its strategic positioning throughout China.
Advantage Magazine: Mr. Zhou, what’s your magic weapon for achieving your remarkable success in the sanitary ware industry?
Mr. Zhou: It’s not magic, but we do have two key points: One is focus and concentration, which is fundamental for the long-term and strategic development of our company. Starting from producing the first piece of toilet cover in 1992 until now, with production capacity to 20 million sets per year, we have always stayed focused and have concentrated on the sanitary ware industry. Such dedication brings us sustainable growth.
The second key is innovation, which is pivotal for our development. The external environment, the market and the customer's needs are always changing. To advance over time and to be innovative is the driving force for the sustainable and positive growth of the company.
Advantage Magazine: We see that Haitian machines are the major equipment used here for production; does this mean that the Haitian machine fits into your strategic development?
Mr. Zhou: I’m a big fan of investing in production equipment, from CNC machines, to injection molding machines and software as well. We always keep pace with the latest developments in the industry and even stay a little ahead. We are very independent throughout the whole process, from product development through to mold manufacture and production maintenance, without any external supplier. Such independence ensures our quality and delivery on time.
Meitu is the owner of Haitian’s first two-platen machine and is also the customer that owns most Haitian IA machines in Guangdong. We used to place an order for 16 Haitian IA machines for manufacturing thick-walled products by using the interlayer injection molding process. This has substantially reduced the cost for products while at the same time ensuring surface quality and intensity. I’m strongly convinced that technology is the first step in productivity.
We are also placing orders for injection molding machines. A long time ago, we bought a Hong Kong-brand injection molding machine from a trade company and used it for one month, after which the screw surface started to peel off and our production was therefore severely interrupted. We tried to communicate with the supplier several times and the final explanation was that the screw was an imported part of high quality, but that it was also a part easily subject to wear and tear. Thus they attributed the problem to us because of improper use. Such an attitude was quite disappointing to me. So finally we terminated the cooperation and have bought no more of their machines. The Haitian machine has gained our trust through its quality and after-sales service. Currently, we operate hundreds of Haitian machines and we have been constantly extending the application scope of those machines, while further exploring their possibilities. We have also had some problems with Haitian machines, but we were fully satisfied that those problems could be solved very quickly by Haitian’s after-sales service team, which responds very quickly and reliably.
Once, when the CEO of Haitian paid a visit to Meitu and saw Haitian machines in our workshop, he was surprised that we were running a caravan like a sports car. Of course, we also communicated with Haitian in a timely manner to receive feedback which may play a positive reference to Haitian for further improvement. So I think it is more like a strategic cooperation between us instead of simply a buyer/seller relationship.
Advantage Magazine: Innovation is interpreted by Haitian as technology to the point. What is Meitu’s understanding about innovation and quality?
Mr. Zhou: Innovation is one of the fundamental principles for Meitu to drive its operations, and we focus on sustainable research and development of new products. However, new products do not necessary mean that we should not consider cost and the real market needs and target only higher technology and higher product quality.
Requirements for quality are also diversified according to different industries. For instance, the requirement for parts in the white goods industry will be equal to that in the automotive or IT industry. Requirements for production equipment should not apply when considering performance but also to cost. To produce products with a fairly low return or added value using top-class production equipment is definitely not wise, but on the other hand, it is also impossible to produce products meeting the highest quality requirement based on a very cheap and simple machine. That’s why we believe selecting a “to the point” machine is the key to production, ensuring that we will produce the product “to the point”.
Talent is also key for innovation, and it is very important that the company train and develop its own talented people. Meitu has been actively investing in the development of products with independent patent rights and in developing our core competitiveness. For instance, lately we have successfully developed a new product with better surface smoothness and better resistance to scratching. As soon as the development of such new product was completed, other competitors already started to attract our employees to work for them and to try to get possession of that process. But we are quite convinced that copying from others will not make one successful; only innovative products will make one company stand out.
Advantage Magazine: What is your expectation for future cooperation with Haitian?
Mr. Zhou: Considering the increasing advantages delivered by automation, we also expect that Haitian will be able to provide more turn-key solutions for us based on the injection molding machine.