Decades of strong, determined leadership takes Weichai to new heights
“I did not make any significant bad decision. I made those decisions not because I was bold,but actually because I was cautious.
Managing a Stateowned company, I cannot make any mistake.”
Tan Xuguang, chairman of Weichai Group
By YUAN SHENGGAO
Tan Xuguang, chairman of Weichai Group, has concentrated on one thing during his more than 40 years at the company-turning Weichai into an international company capable of taking the lead in
the global auto industry.
Tan’s story with Weichai, a leading heavyduty truck engines and components developer in China,began in 1977 when he was 16 yearsold. At that time, Weichai was known as Weifang Diesel Engine
Tan was appointed as manager of Weifang Diesel Engine Factory in 1998. Nobody expected the factory,without advanced technology, professionals and sizable market share at that time, to become one of the
largest heavyduty automotive engine developers in China.
But that is exactly what happened after Tan initiated a series of reforms covering ownership, cutting unnecessary departments and better employee management.
“Many employees did not trust the management team and rejected reform plans at that time,” said Wang Shijie, an employee during that difficult period. Wang has since become a model worker and established
an innovation workstation in Weichai.
Wang said Weichai would not be successful without Tan’s wisdom and courage.
“He demonstrated that Stateowned companies must reform to become successful,” Wang said.
Tan, an early mover in seeking expansion opportunities in the global auto market, is fully aware of the importance of independent development.Weichai has never given up engine research and development
under Tan’s management.
Statistics from the company show that Weichai has invested more than 15 billion yuan ($2.17 billion) in engine development in the last 10 years.
Professionals are valuable assets of companies, according to Tan, and Weichai is home to more than 300 highcaliber experts from both China and overseas. Every time Weichai introduces new staff members, Tan
arranges a chat with the new recruits, even if they are fresh graduates.
Today, Weichai’s products have won recognition in both domestic and foreign markets, and Tan said the company’s future development will surely lead to more recognition,although that development will
always be based on Weichai’s true needs, rather than imitating others’experiences.
According to the company, engine development is still Weichai’s core business, but an enginecentered industrial chain has been established.Weichai has also expanded into smart logistics, forklifts and
yachts to expand its product portfolio.
For Weichai’s many mergers and acquisitions over the years, Tan has made many decisions which have been described as “miraculous” by observers.
In 2005, Weichai made an acquisition by purchasing Zhuzhou Torch Spark Plug in Hunan province, with total transaction value of 1.02 billion yuan, 30 percent higher than Torch
Spark’s net asset value. The Chinese capital market was shocked by Weichai’s decision.
“Those who said I was crazy did not understand the importance,” Tan said.
The deal allowed Weichai to later obtain a controlling stake in Shaanxi Fast Gear, Shaanxi Heavyduty Motor Company and HandeAxle. This enabled Weichai to trans fer from being just an engine developer
into a powertrain developer.
In 2012, Weichai Power purchased a majority stake in Italian yacht maker Ferretti, to tap into the luxury yacht sector.
Some people also questioned why Weichai, focused on heavyduty truck development, needed a yacht brand.
“This acquisition allowed Weichai to enter into the marine sector,” Tan explained.
He said every acquisition by thecompany was aimed at adjusting business structure to support the company’s development.
“I did not make any significant bad decision. I made those decisions not because I was bold, but actually because I was cautious,” Tan said.“Managing a Stateowned company,
I cannot make any mistake. It is all about responsibility.
“Apart from strictly following procedures,I have to ensure I obey laws.I also need support from my team.”
Tan said he stayed in Italy for three months before acquiring Ferretti to learn all the information needed.
Tan took the helm as chairman and the Party secretary of China National Heavy Duty Truck Group last year. That means he has to shoulder more responsibilities in upcoming years.
He said he has been too busy to bewith his family as much as he would like in recent years.
“I put most of my time and energy into engine development. Sometimes I feel sorry for not being with my family members,” he said. “But those who want to succeed, they must strive for their goal.”
Weichai has set a goal of becoming a leader in global new energy development by 2030 and has slaunched several supporting projects.