Liang Wengen, chairman and founder of Sany Group, was named the richest man in China last week. (File Photo/CFP)
Established 25 years ago as a small welding material factory with capital of 60,000 yuan (US$9,400 at current exchange rate), Sany Group is today the world's largest heavy construction machinery manufacturer with production worth 50 billion yuan (US$7.8 billion). The business conglomerate's success has made its founder and chairman, Liang Wengen, the wealthiest man in the country.
Liang topped both the Hurun China and Forbes China rich lists published last week to become the richest man in China. Seven senior executives from the heavy construction machinery giant also made this year's billionaire list published by Forbes China.
According to the Time Weekly, the group sent shockwaves through the industry and proved there are many possibilities in the sector. In early 2008, the group rolled out a development strategy to achieve 100 billion yuan (US$15.6 billion) in revenue by 2012 and become one among the world's top 500 enterprises.
In 2010, its sales revenue breached the 50 billion yuan (US$7.8 billion) mark.
Some said Sany's success is a miracle for a private enterprise in China because it did not have an industrial base in the country's northeast, nor did it enjoy the policy incentives given to state-run enterprises. Nor did it have an abundance of capital.
Located in the Changsha Economic and Technological Development Zone in Hunan, Sany Heavy Industry was established by Liang and three of his partners in early 1980s with only 60,000 yuan (US$9,400) in funds.
Not long after, the company generated up to 100 million yuan (US$15.6 million) in revenue, earning tens of millions of yuan in profit per year.
Despite this, Liang was not satisfied with his achievements. He asked how it was that an air conditioner manufacturer which started later than Sany had generated revenues of over 2 billion yuan (US$312.8 million) while his company's output was still around 100 million yuan (US$15.6 million).
Liang conducted a one-year market survey and found that his company's growth was being hindered by its small size and its location. He formulated a strategy to make inroads into the city of Changsha, Hunan's provincial capital, and diversified into equipment manufacturing.
In 1993, Liang renamed his enterprise Sany Group and relocated its headquarters to Changsha, reaching the goal of 200 million yuan (US$31.2 million) in revenues soon after. In 2003, the group's subsidiary Sany Heavy Industry was listed on the A-share market and became the largest private enterprise in Hunan.
In 2009, Sany International was listed in Hong Kong, while Sany Heavy Industry's listing in the H-share market was approved in August 2011. The construction machinery giant then sought overseas expansion by participating in international disaster relief efforts.
At present the group has 30 subsidiaries and its business is spread over 150 countries. It has invested in constructing machinery R&D bases in India and the United States and signed agreements for construction projects in Germany.
On the domestic front, it has operations in industrial parks in Shanghai, Beijing, Shenyang, Kunshan and Changsha.
Industry experts attribute Sany's success partially to China's continuing economic growth, its pioneering role in the industry and its good timing in listing on the stock market.
Liang Wengen 梁穩根