[FOUNTAIN]No time to waste

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[FOUNTAIN]No time to waste

Mao Zungryang is a home appliance technician from Guangzhou in Guangdong Province who received an order to deliver a washing machine to a customer in Chaozhou. He was driving his car when it broke down in the middle of nowhere. Because he could not find alternate transportation, Mr. Mao began walking with the 90-kilogram washing machine on his back. In a heat of 38 degrees Celsius (100 F), he walked 2 hours and 30 minutes and completed his mission. He was completely exhausted. The incident happened in July, 1995.
Chin Guansung is an after-sales service representative in Kunming, Yunnan Province. A customer from Zhaotong asked for a service call. Mr. Chin got on a bus but heavy rain caused a landslide and roads were blocked. He began walking at 11 o’clock at night and reached his destination at 4 a.m. Not wanting to wake the customer, Mr. Chin waited for hours to make the service call. That happened in July, 1997. What Mr. Mao and Mr. Chin have in common is that they are both employees of Haier, the biggest household appliances maker in China.
What is the source of Haier’s mental strength? Behind the spirit of the employees is Zhang Ruimin, who believes that the core of a company is its people. In the winter of 1984, 35-year-old Zhang became manager of the company with a deficit of 1.47 million yuan. He began his job by borrowing money to give 3 kilograms of fish to each of its employees as a New Year’s present.
He strongly believes there would be no factory or management if the company did not treat its workers right. “Soldiers follow the general. It is okay for a leader to miss the faults of his followers, but he must never miss their merits. The leader has to be able to embrace the faults and maximize the merits.” Mr. Zhang’s management philosophy inspired the enthusiasm of his employees, such as Mr. Mao and Mr. Chin.
Haier has declared it will target the Korean market in earnest in the New Year, which is only two days away. Since its entrance to the Korean home appliance market two years ago, it has introduced a couple of dozen products so far. Next year, Haier plans to promote more than 50 new products. It has also announced a goal to become one of the top three home appliance brands in Korea by 2010. It might be a challenge for Korean appliance makers to defend the Korean market, much less pursue expansion in China.
While other countries are fastening their shoestrings and getting ready to make a long journey, how are Korean companies preparing for next year?


by You Sang-chul

The writer is the Asia news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.
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