Last Word

Cool Iron lady

Updated: 2011-05-20 11:18

By Zhang Lei (China Daily European Weekly)

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Cool Iron lady

A confident Dong Mingzhu says she never commits

a mistake. Zou Zhongpin / China Daily

One of China’s leading businesswomen gives top priority to her company’s research and development

South Africa was high on the list of topics touched on when China's President Hu Jintao visited Gree Electrical Appliances' head office in December 2009. After all, Gree had in the previous year won a bid to supply air conditioners for all the 2010 FIFA World Cup venues.

Hu had said that while he was in South Africa, he heard "complaints" the company's air conditioners were too quiet, resulting in quite a few people forgetting to turn off the units when they left.

That's the type of complaint that Dong Mingzhu, Gree's president and vice-chairwoman, doesn't mind hearing, especially as she has been instrumental in making Gree air conditioners best-sellers in China for 16 consecutive years.

And one key reason is that Dong, who has been with Gree since 1990 and its president since 2001, has made research and development (R&D), and innovation, a top priority. And making air conditioners quiet has always been a priority.

On several occasions, Dong has said that Gree has no limits for its R&D department.

"To be honest, I think most of the technology we bought from the West is not all that advanced," she says.

"The propelling force of a company lies in its drive to excel on its own, to make your own technology."

Such drives have resulted in Gree's air conditioners being not only among the quietest on the market, but units with technical innovations that help them become more energy efficient than most of its rivals.

Indeed, it is believed those reasons helped Gree win the 200 million yuan (22 million euros) World Cup contract to supply air conditioners to all venues, a hotel and the headquarters of the South Africa Football Association.

Competition for the contract included Japan's Daikin Industries, the United States' Carrier Corp and the Dunan Group, another Chinese company.

Dong says the contract proved that Chinese manufacturers can be outstanding "creators" in addition to being good "makers".

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