【英语中国】抓住机遇的中国玻璃大亨 The tycoon who opened the window of?opportunity

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所属分类:双语中国

2014-6-9 21:52

小艾摘要: Cao Dewang became the biggest Chinese investor in Ohio this year when Fuyao Glass, the car glass manufacturer that he founded in 1987, spent $200m buying an old General Motors factory in Dayton.Few pe ...
The tycoon who opened the window of?opportunity
Cao Dewang became the biggest Chinese investor in Ohio this year when Fuyao Glass, the car glass manufacturer that he founded in 1987, spent $200m buying an old General Motors factory in Dayton.

Few people outside China have heard of Mr Cao even though Fuyao supplies everyone from Toyota, VW and Ford to BMW, Daimler and Bentley. Its founder has been catapulted into the ranks of the wealthiest Chinese, with assets of $1.14bn, according to the 2013 Hurun China rich list.

Mr Cao would be richer still were he not one of his country’s most generous philanthropists, having donated about $1.3bn across 2011 and 2012, including to the Heren Foundation, a charity he created.

“The more I donate, the more I realise how little use I have for money,” he says. “It should be shared with others or used to educate children.”

While he may be at the vanguard of philanthropy in China, he started parting with his cash for unusual reasons that underscored the challenges of running a private business in China in the early years of the national economic reforms launched by Deng Xiaoping in 1979. “In the beginning, I was punished during a local party campaign, which really scared me,” says Mr Cao, explaining that he thought he might lose his assets. “So I donated all the money that was in my name.”

Mr Cao, who is also known by his Cantonese name, Cho Tak-wong, boasts the kind of rags-to-riches tale that is becoming increasingly common in China as it emerges as an economic powerhouse. He was born in Shanghai in 1946 to a wealthy business family from Fujian province. The next year his family fled back to Fujian as the communists moved closer to Shanghai in the final years of the Chinese civil war. Mr Cao says they became poor almost overnight after being swindled along the way. “My father bought a boat and loaded up all our possessions. But we returned to Fujian on a cruise ship because the other boat was too small and we were worried about getting seasick,” he explains. But when his family arrived in Fujian, the boat carrying their possessions failed to join them. “We had hired someone to bring it back, but it never arrived. He said it sank.”

After losing everything, his family was forced to farm for a living. Mr Cao says he started school aged nine, but had to quit at 14 because his family could no longer afford to send him. He ended up herding oxen. “Back then, farming was really hard, nothing like today. We didn’t even have enough to eat,” Mr Cao says in an interview in the comfort of the Shangri-La hotel in Hong Kong. “My dream was just to leave that place, I just had to escape”.

He began to educate himself, using a dictionary to learn the thousands of Chinese characters needed to read the language. But he also started his first business, buying and selling tobacco leaves to escape poverty.

“I made two or three renminbi a day,” says Mr Cao, adding that he had to find ways to avoid the police as private enterprises were banned. “I was caught many times, but I had no choice as my father was not able to farm. This was our only way out.”

During the cultural revolution – the violent, tumultuous decade unleashed by Mao Zedong on China from 1966 – Mr Cao started selling fruit at a time when people denounced as “capitalist roaders” were being killed.

“I had little trouble doing business during the cultural revolution,” says Mr Cao. “It was actually much easier as there was no government. There were rules and regulations but there was no government to enforce them.”

After the cultural revolution he found a job at a factory that made glass for water meters. Then, in 1983, he got a break when the local government agreed to sell him the enterprise because it was losing money. He bought it with his savings from trading tobacco, fruit and other goods, and managed to turn a profit of Rmb200,000 within a year.

“No one dared to take over the factory, as it was run by the Communist party,” says Mr Cao, adding that he owed his rise to Deng’s economic overhaul – with new reforms being rolled out during the early 1980s. “At the time, no one believed the party was serious about reform. I was lucky the government introduced them after I took over the factory, as otherwise I would have spent Chinese new year in prison.”

He continued making water meter glass but in 1985 changed tack after learning that Japanese companies were making glass for cars in China. They were selling glass for several thousand renminbi, which he thought was “shameless”. He was able to produce panels for Rmb50, which he sold for Rmb1,500, generating a far higher profit margin than he had earned previously.

In 1993, he listed Fuyao, which is based in Fujian province, on the Shanghai stock exchange. It started trading at about Rmb1.3, soared as high as Rmb19.19 before the global financial crisis, and today fetches about Rmb8. Last year it had revenues of $11.4bn, while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation were $3.4bn.

Within a few years of listing, Mr Cao had persuaded Honda and Volkswagen to become customers, helped by a Chinese rule that 40 per cent of the components in cars produced in China had to be made by local companies.

Chinese companies have enjoyed variable reputations for quality but Mr Cao is adamant that he dealt with that challenge early on. “In order to supply Honda and Volkswagen, your quality absolutely had to be as good as them,” he says. “Now we are the biggest producer of car glass in the world.”

Mr Cao puts his success down to the penchant for hard work he developed when he was poor, saying he worked 16 hours a day, every day of the year for more than two decades.

But one more goal remains, says Mr Cao. While Fuyao employs more than 10,000 people around the globe, he wants to turn his hand to expanding in the US, and will start by creating 800 jobs in Dayton.

“I want to build a Fuyao for the American people, as the country’s car glass industry is in decline,” he says.

Mr Cao now enjoys some leisure time having handed the chief executive reins to his son, and likes reading. He is carrying several Chinese business magazines, but says he enjoys a Buddhist tome called the Diamond Sutra. He also plays golf, and smiles when asked if his competitive spirit has carried over on to the golf course. “I never count the strokes, but I am always the champion as I play by myself.”

Additional reporting by Julie Zhu

曹德旺今年成为了在美国俄亥俄州投资手笔最大的中国人,因为他于1987年创立的汽车玻璃生产商福耀玻璃(Fuyao Glass)斥资2亿美元,收购了通用汽车(General Motors)位于俄亥俄州代顿市(Dayton)的一家老工厂。

在中国以外的地区,很少有人听说过曹德旺,虽然福耀玻璃为丰田(Toyota)、大众(VW)、福特(Ford)、宝马(BMW)、戴姆勒(Daimler)、宾利(Bentley)等许多汽车企业供货。2013年的胡润中国富豪榜(Hurun Chinese rich list)显示,福耀玻璃的创始人曹德旺已进入中国顶级富豪行列,身家达到11.4亿美元。

如果曹德旺不是中国最慷慨的慈善家之一的话,他可能还会更加富有。2011至2012年间,他累计捐款约13亿美元,其中包括对他所创立的慈善机构河仁慈善基金会(Heren Foundation)的捐款。

他说:“钱捐多了以后,悟透了一个道理,钱没有用,应该跟人家去共享,培养孩子。”

虽然他或许是中国慈善事业的先锋,但他最初开始捐出资金的原因颇不寻常,凸显出邓小平于1979年启动全国经济改革后的头几年,在中国经营一家私营企业所面临的巨大挑战。曹德旺说,“刚开始我给整了一次,吓死掉我”。他解释称,他当时觉得自己可能会失去自己的财产,“分到我个人名下的钱,都拿去捐掉”。

曹德旺(粤语拼音是Cho Tak-wong)演绎了从一贫如洗到腰缠万贯的传奇故事;随着中国经济日益发达,这种故事在中国正变得愈发寻常。1946年,曹德旺出生于上海富商之家,祖上来自福建。次年,随着中国内战接近尾声,共产党部队距离上海越来越近,曹家逃回了福建。曹德旺说,由于在途中被骗,家里几乎在一夜之间陷入贫困。他解释称:“我爸呢买了一条船,把全家的资产放在那个船上面。那我们全家呢是坐游轮回去的,因为那个船太小,怕晕船,就雇人家开回来。”但当他们一家抵达福建时,装载家庭财产的那艘船却没有出现。“没有开回来。他说沉掉了。”

在失去了一切以后,他家被迫种地谋生。曹德旺说,他9岁上学,但14岁就不得不辍学,因为家里供不起了。结果,他成了放牛娃。在香港舒适的香格里拉酒店(Shangri-La hotel)里接受采访时,曹德旺说:“那时候种田非常辛苦,跟你们(现在)种田是两种概念。连饭都没有吃饱。(我当时的梦想是) 离开那个地方,一定要离开那个地方。”

他开始自学,借助一本字典学习阅读中文必须认识的数千个汉字。他还开始了自己的第一份生意,通过买卖烟草脱离贫困。

曹德旺说,“反正一天可以赚2到3块钱。”他补充称,他必须想方设法地躲避警察,因为私人经营在当时是被禁止的。“被抓到了好几次。但是没有事情做,我爸又不能种田,只能这样子。”

在文化大革命期间(这场运动于1966年由毛泽东发起,带给中国暴力而混乱的十年),曹德旺开始卖水果,而当时被划为“走资派”的人会遭到杀害。

曹德旺说:“(文革期间做生意)没有 (遇到麻烦)。那更好做了,没有政府啊,那个日子倒是好过。有规定、限制,但是没有人管,没有政府。”

文化大革命结束后,他在一家生产水表玻璃的工厂找到了工作。之后在1983年,他时来运转——当地政府同意将这间工厂出售给他,因为工厂当时在亏损。他用卖烟草、水果和其他商品攒下的积蓄买下了这家工厂,并成功地在一年之内扭亏为盈,实现了20万元人民币利润。

曹德旺说:“根本一个人都不敢(承包这工厂),因为共产党领导的。”他补充称,自己的发家必须归功于邓小平的经济改革——20世纪80年代,新的改革措施密集出台。“大家都不相信它改革是真的,我给它承包呢,还好碰到之后中国政府进一步推动改革,如果不是碰到这个时代的话,那会在监狱里面过完年。”

此后他继续生产水表玻璃。但在1985年,他改变了经营方向,因为他了解到,日本企业正在中国生产汽车玻璃。日本人生产的玻璃一块要卖数千元人民币,这在当时的他看来简直“无耻”。他成功地以每块50元人民币的价格生产出了玻璃板,并按照每块1500元人民币的价格销售,赚取了远超之前业务的利润率。

1993年,他带领福耀玻璃在上海证交所发行上市,福耀玻璃的总部设在福建省。该股的初始交易价格约为每股1.3元人民币,全球经融危机前最高曾冲至19.19元人民币,如今每股约8元人民币。去年该公司实现收入114亿美元,息税折旧及摊销前利润(EBITDA)为34亿美元。

在福耀玻璃上市几年后,曹德旺成功地说服本田(Honda)和大众汽车(Volkswagen)成为自己的客户,中国政府有关在华生产汽车零部件国产化率必须达到40%的规定,也帮了他一把。

中国企业在产品质量方面并没有稳定声誉,但曹德旺非常坚定地认为,自己从发展初期就开始着手应对这一挑战。他说:“给本田、大众做玻璃,你质量不如它,你肯定是不行的。现在我的玻璃,在全球产量是第一大的。”

曹德旺将自己的成功归功于喜欢努力工作,这是他穷困时形成的习惯。他说,自己在超过二十年的时间里每天都工作16个小时。

但曹德旺表示,自己仍有一个目标未实现。目前福耀玻璃在世界各地聘用了超过1万名员工,但他希望能够腾出手来拓展美国市场,并将从在代顿创造800个就业岗位开始做起。

他说:“我还要为美国人建一个福耀,也做汽车玻璃,因为它这个行业在美国衰败下来了。”

在将首席执行官职位交给儿子之后,曹德旺现在能够享受一点休闲时光,他很喜欢阅读。他随身带着几本中文商业杂志,但表示自己喜欢读的是《金刚经》(Diamond Sutra)。他还会打打高尔夫球。在被问及是否把自己的竞争精神延续到了高尔夫球场上时,他微笑道:“打多少杆倒没有数,但是我都是打第一名,因为我都是一个人自己和自己比赛。”

朱莉(Julie Zhu)补充报道

译者/马拉

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