“I am more like a hillbilly. I only make glass. I admit that I am not sophisticated. I will just guard my own piece of land.”
Fuyao Group, the auto glass manufacturer that controls one quarter of the world’s market, is head quartered in Fuyao Industrial Village, seven or eight kilometers away from Fuqing City. Every morning, Cao Dewang, chairman of the board of Fuyao Group, gets up at 4:30 and drives one hour to his workplace.
At half past seven, Fuyao Group is full of staff.
Apart from a one-hour daily commute, the 72-year-old Cao Dewang takes his private jet to the glass factory in Ohio, USA, every one or two months. The factory has 2,000 employees and several hundred of Chinese managers.
In addition to the United States, Fuyao Group has factories in Germany and Russia. When the new Russian factory was completed and put into production, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev sent a congratulatory letter to him.
Cao Dewang was accused of “running away” two years ago because of his choice of bringing Fuyao abroad. But he proved with facts that it is what Chinese entrepreneurs need to do to earn money abroad and then bring it back to China. In an interview with iAsk, Cao Dewang said, ” Real entrepreneur with an ideal will not immigrate.”
Perhaps because of his poor childhood, Cao Dewang believes more in diligence. After decades of ups and downs, Fuyao Group has become the number one supplier of automotive glass in its global market share.
Cao Dewang, who has a billion-dollar asset, devoted himself to auto glass for 30 years. He has neither invested in real estate, nor engaged himself in private equity funds or financial transactions. He often said, “I am more like a hillbilly. I only make glass. I admit that I am not sophisticated. I will just guard my own piece of land.”
Behind the humility of a strongman is Cao Dewang’s belief in life – never to be greedy. Cultivate one’s moral character, govern one’s family, and then manage a company and finally conquer the world. It is very suitable to describe Cao Dewang.
Gloria Ai: I heard that you started business with your father since childhood. So you get up very early, as early as 4:30 in the morning for many years?
Cao Dewang: Yes. My mother said that if you got up early for three days, three mornings would be equal to one day. By doing so you can do a lot more things.
Gloria Ai: When do employees go to work at Fuyao Group?
Cao Dewang: At 7:30. It is good for you too. It’s a good habit and exercise. I am an entrepreneur. I think entrepreneurs should have a sense of responsibility, social responsibility.
I also want to stay in bed. Don’t you think I feel sleepy? Talking of sleep, it is my favorite. If time permitted, I will sleep for more than ten hours. Financially, I can afford to sleep. But from the perspective of our country, I don’t think I can afford it. I told young people that they are among the elites of the People’s Republic of China who can work in Fuyao.
Gloria Ai: You said that real entrepreneurs would not immigrate. Those who did are small bosses. You will neither immigrate yourself, nor allow your family to do so, because you want make your company China’s Fuyao, a Chinese one.
Cao Dewang: There are some differences with what I have said. It should be put this way: those who become real entrepreneurs with true ideals, or those who want to be recognized by history would consider if it is worth doing it. For example, I am 70 years old, only 10 years from 80 and 20 years from 90. Is it worth it? Do you know how many years and how many people would be judging you after your death? You should think more about this question, right? People should cherish their reputation after death.
Gloria Ai: We would also like to share three sentences you have said. Because of you, the country is stronger, society making progress and people richer. Have you made it?
Cao Dewang: If I haven’t made it, I wouldn’t be the person to talk about it. China is shared by all Chinese. It is no use depending on anyone. Successis our credit. Mistake is our fault.
As an entrepreneur, if what you are doing was neither needed by the country, nor the people and society, what would be your competitive edge? Chinese have a habit: when they see someone doing well with his business, they will consider starting a factory too. When borrowing money to do it, they say, “Trust me, I will definitely knock him down.”
But he has not seized your land, your wife, or your house. Why should you knock his down? Why don’t you think about living with him? If you can reflect on yourself with such mentality from the beginning, you are destined to be an entrepreneur. You must have a broad mind and be tolerant.
Gloria Ai: From the early stage of your entrepreneurship to the present, the social status, respect and support for entrepreneurs reach a new high. But there was something I don’t quite get when you said about never to be greedy. I wish to have your clarification. You said that in the development of Fuyao, if money was not earned from glass, you wouldn’t take it even if offered for free.
Cao Dewang: Because I don’t run my business for money. From the very beginning, I told my staff that we were making a piece of glass for the Chinese. It will not only satisfy the officials but also the ordinary people. It can stand as the image of our country and enable us to communicate with others from the rest of the world.
So later, when I saw a listed company switched to something else, I said they need it while I don’t. I must fulfill my promise to the public.
I am more like a hillbilly. I only make glass. I admit that I am not sophisticated. I will just guard my own piece of land.