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Entrepreneurship Driven by Patriotism; Paying back with Gratitude

Dialogue with Mr. Yu Liming 

edited by JI Communications and Marketing Office

 

From starting up with 3000 yuan to conquering the world with annual sales of nearly 300 million yuan, from a novice auto mechanic to a successful entrepreneur, from a decade's helping more than 400 poor students realize their dreams to funding SJTU  Yu Liming Endowed Scholarship, for two decades Mr. Yu Liming, leading his Zhejiang Liming Engine Parts Co., Ltd., remembering his early resolution and adhering to his business philosophy of "manufacturing excellence with character, striving for number one in China and first class in the world,” reinvigorates the national brand while engaging in education charity to help the next generation of his motherland. As the special guest of JI's first Alumni Business Forum, Mr. Yu presented his self-made legend. On behalf of JI alumni, Shaolong Sui, class of 2011,  co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of RoboTerra (spicy radish) Education Technology Co., held a dialogue with senior entrepreneur Yu and discussed the "business stuff."

 

 

Venture due to family influence and chances 

 

"Mass entrepreneurship and innovation," was destined to become a new wave of Chinese society in 2015. With the great support of national policies, many scientific micro-enterprises such as RoboTerra are emerging and growing vigorously, while 20 years ago it was difficult to imagine today's mass entrepreneurship. Shaolong Sui was curious how Mr. Yu had built the road to entrepreneurship in the backward and impoverished era.

Yu Liming attributes the driving force of his entrepreneurship to subtle family influences and pure chances. In his father's time, “private enterprises” was an unfamiliar term. His father's experience as a factory director germinated seeds of entrepreneurship in his heart from an early age. He was therefore aspired to study military technology and business management in college. After graduation he was assigned to a textile machinery factory in his hometown and worked for 5 years.

Yu Liming recalled, "At that time China's auto manufacturing was just taking off. In 1994, when 90% of Xiali cars were manufactured in China, the air lock pieces, the smallest parts inside the engine, still depended on imports. At that time he heard that a Xiali factory manager would be willing to use his package if his quality matched the Japanese's. Yu Liming's unyielding spirit and patriotism drove him to establish a national brand. "Just like that, the challenging words inspired my entrepreneurial spirit so I started my company." In August 1994, he founded the Zhoushan Liming Air Lock Pieces Manufacturing Co., Ltd., the predecessor of today's Zhejiang Liming Engine Parts Co., Ltd.

 

We need strength and, moreover, a sense of national mission

 

With no orders from the beginning and 200,000 yuan in debt the second year,  Yu's venture suffered a tough outset. Compared to today's fast-growing angel fund investment model, with no money and no contacts, it took self-made Yu eight years to accumulate the necessary capital.  However, eight years of hardships did not deter him. With a meager capital of 3000 yuan, he started his company in a rented 40 square meter plant. Under his leadership, relying on technological innovations from small to big,  his products reached 53% of the domestic market and his company became China's first industry.

On mentioning that one in every two cars in China having his products, Yu Liming said proudly: "We have been supplying Toyota for 6 years and have won their highest honor, 5 medals so far, unique in China. I just received 2 medals last month, one for excellent quality, and one for original price, as the only Chinese private enterprise to be awarded. It is not easy. " 

For his outstanding achievements, Yu said modestly that compared to European and American manufacturing, China's manufacturing is three decades behind.  Such a gap is not only reflected in the technology, but also in innovative talent training. Yu used Japanese companies as an example: "Japanese companies nurtured dedicated employees upon hiring. A creative staff member can enrich the company with 700 new ideas a year; that is 2 ideas a day, a selfless work on top of manufacturing automation. Based on my personal experience, Chinese auto parts companies can stay up to five years maximum. In the next 5 years, I have set a goal for my labor productivity to reach one million (per person) in 3 years. Most foreign countries have reached 2.5 million minimum and four million the highest. I cannot make a big leap. First I have to buy equipment and then I need talents, not only domestic personnel, but also international talents. “Yu thinks JI's education philosophy of “nurturing the world's best engineers and leaders" meets the strong demand of future manufacturing. JI would provide the creative talents desperately needed by today's major companies.

At the moment, Germany's industrial strategy 4.0 set off a worldwide wave of technological revolution and industrial revolution. Yu feels a strong sense of crisis for the Industry 4.0 era; he believes that "if you bind your fate and future together with those of your people and country, then you have infinite power of entrepreneurship." In all the Japanese cars produced in China, Toyota parts occupy 80% of the market share. If the domestic parts can meet international standards in quality, technology, and cost, such a monopoly would be wiped out. "Chinese people never lack diligence or wisdom; you need to have a sense of mission and responsibility to revitalize our national industries. Be a patriotic Chinese. " 

 

In the era of industry 4.0: Employment first, then entrepreneurship

 

If industry 1.0 is machinery manufacturing, industry 2.0 is electrification and automation, and industry 3.0 is electronics and information, then the industry 4.0 is to create a highly flexible intelligent manufacturing model by connecting people, equipment, and products. In this context, different from the emerging internet and finance industries, how JI alumni with engineering background create their own careers in the manufacturing sector became a topic of concern at the forum.

In this regard, Yu gave an analysis based on his entrepreneurial experience: The future Industry 4.0 offers a huge opportunity for entrepreneurial alumni preparing for or currently in start-ups. What China's manufacturing industry lacks is mature enterprise management and many years of experience. "If you plan to start a business in the future, I hope you do not go right after graduation. My child majored in engine as an undergraduate. Now he is studying industrial management in graduate school. After that, I would like that he work at Toyota. He has to spend at least three to five years in a world-class enterprise, such as a Fortune 500, to get familiar with the rules of the game. This experience is exactly lacked by the Chinese enterprises, particularly in automated manufacturing.  Chinese companies may be able to automate some manufacturing, but to produce products of good quality needs experience. If you have access to the world's best companies, do go working there for a while. Then you sure will be able to create a new world in the future. "
 

Yu Liming recommended that alumni catch the opportunities to work and get partners at the world's top 500 companies. He said: “My son also intends to start an enterprise with a couple of capable partners after graduation, partly to transform the business, and secondly because the demand is too strong. Till 2017 China is facing the highest demand for machinery industry in the world, which means venture opportunities for you; you are not looking for employees, but partners. "
 

Paying back by engaging in charitable education

 

The motto of Zhejiang Liming Engine Parts Co., Ltd. is “Employee care, customer satisfaction, business development, and social return."  These words portray Yu's two decades of developing national brands and paying back to the society. In 2002, he launched a corporate social responsibility program to fund students with financial difficulties. In 2004, he established the Liming Charitable Fund, which has since helped more than 400 financially challenged students achieve their goals.  During the Wenshan earthquake catastrophe in 2008, Yu was the first one to donate and called on employees to raise money to support the disaster areas in Sichuan. So far, he has donated more than 14 million of charitable fund for employee care, earthquake relief, student scholarships, cancer rehabilitation, etc.

Yu Liming and the Joint Institute has a special bond. From establishing the "Yu Liming Student Center" in 2014 to setting up "Yu Liming Scholarship" first and "Yu Liming Endowed Scholarship Fund" later, Yu has taken actions on education philanthropy nonstop. He remarked that "it is really gratifying to engage in charity, especially in education. I started funding 2 children a year in 2004 when my business was fledgling and have slowly increased to helping 40 students in the current year. Charity is similar to venture investing; however, for me, investing in education has a happy index 10 times higher than making profits in business."

 


Alumnae Shaolong Sui presented to Yu Liming a seal inscribed with SJTU's motto “Gratitude and Responsibility”

 

During the dialogue, Shaolong Sui was deeply touched by Yu's charity for education. Paying back is a noble duty, not only based on sentiment, but mostly an act of kindness and responsibility. Yu compares his education charity to the seeds of hope: “Under the nurture of gratitude, these seeds of hope will eventually bloom and bear fruits." As a successful patriotic and philanthropic entrepreneur,  Yu Liming sets an impressive example for JI's alumni aspiring for entrepreneurship, and he hopes to pass the important baton to the next generation of Chinese entrepreneurs.  Inspired by "patriotism with global outlook, " while leading China's future of manufacturing, JI alumni will not forget to return to the community and carry on the charitable legacy.

 

Brief introduction of Yu Liming

Mr. Yu Liming is the President of Zhejiang Liming Engine Parts Co., Ltd. and Honorary Vice President of Zhoushan City Charity Foundation. His company has won charity awards from dozens of provinces and the State Council, such as “Advanced Collective for Helping the Disabled "," Model Enterprise for National Welfare." Mr. Yu himself has received many honors such as "Zhejiang Philanthropist Award", "Zhoushan Excellent Communist Member”, “ Zhoushan Outstanding Entrepreneur."