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Business Leader of the Week: Meet He Xiangjian, co-founder of Midea Group

IFM_He Xiangjian
As of 2024, according to Forbes, He Xiangjian's net worth is around 2,370 crores USD

The Fortune Global 500 company Midea Group is a well-known Chinese multinational conglomerate that is mainly recognised for its HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems and home appliances. Established in 1968 in Shunde, Guangdong Province, Midea has grown into one of the world’s largest manufacturers of consumer appliances, with a diverse product portfolio ranging from refrigerators, washing machines, and dishwashers to air conditioners, kitchen appliances, and small household appliances.

The company’s success has been driven by its dedication to innovation and technology. Considerable investments in research and development have facilitated the creation of cutting-edge products that cater to the changing demands of global consumers.

Midea has a global footprint spanning more than 200 nations and regions, with a significant presence in important markets like the US, Europe, and Southeast Asia. Midea has broadened its market penetration and diversified its business operations by entering new markets including robotics, smart home solutions, and industrial automation through strategic acquisitions and partnerships. Midea has been able to establish itself as a leader across several industries and adjust to shifting market conditions thanks to its diversification strategy.

Apart from prioritising product innovation and global expansion, Midea also places significant emphasis on corporate social responsibility and sustainability. Through programmes like the creation of eco-friendly products and energy-efficient manufacturing techniques, the company is dedicated to minimising its environmental impact.

In addition, Midea actively participates in charitable endeavours, sponsoring programmes that assist communities worldwide in need of disaster relief, healthcare, and education.

Midea is committed to its basic values of honesty, quality, and client happiness even in the face of its explosive growth and international success. Midea Group continues to drive innovation, increase its market presence, and provide value to customers globally by adhering to these values and fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

The brain behind this successful venture is 81-year-old He Xiangjian. He is the co-founder of China’s largest appliance maker.

    Who is He Xiangjian?

  • He Xiangjian was born on October 5, 1942 in Shunde, Foshan, Guangdong, China
  • He formed the lid production company with a group of 23 residents of a small town in Guangdong Province that turned to become Midea Group in 1968
  • With an initial amount of only USD 780, its humble beginning, the company has grown into a “Billion Dollars Company,” following the success of the plastic bottle lid business
  • He Xiangjian later moved into furnished goods and then into electrical appliances
  • Under his leadership, Midea Group has acquired an 80% stake in the home appliances arm of Toshiba in a cash deal valued at USD 500 million
  • The company also increased its stake to 95% in Kuka, a robot firm based in Germany in a deal valued at USD 4 billion
  • He Xiangjian has also donated his fortune to several causes ranging from disaster relief to community development and education
  • In 2012, he stepped down from operations of Midea Group
  • He Xiangjian is a noted art collector and founded the He Art Museum, a privately funded non-profit museum designed by Pritzker Prize winner Tadao Ando
  • In September 2021, his net worth was estimated to be USD 28.8 billion by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, positioning him at 51st place in the index
  • As of 2024, according to Forbes, He Xiangjian’s net worth is around 2,370 crores USD

Midea Group To Expand Globally

Midea Group plans to expand its presence in Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East while also increasing its investment in regionalised research and development. The action is a component of Midea’s plan to expand its revenue streams and increase the visibility of its brand overseas.

“Our R&D centre in North America was set up in 2018. It not only includes technological R&D but involves patent layout, industrial standards and related certification, after-sales services and training. Currently, the number of R&D staff members at the centre has increased to more than 30,” Zhou Zhiwen, general manager of overseas sales at Midea’s household air conditioner business unit said.

To improve its core competitiveness internationally, Midea set out to build company-owned brands despite having begun as an OEM, or original equipment manufacturer, in North America. At the moment, Midea holds a 60% market share in North America for its residential air conditioners.

According to Zhou, Midea will prioritise developing its own brands and stepping up its localisation initiatives, which will include hiring local staff and developing innovative product designs in response to regional customer demands and preferences.

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