|Zhong Sheng Jian, Chairman of Yanlord Land Group|
Recently, Mr. Zhong has received an interview, where he talked about his company and expressed his ideas on the real estate business.
Q：Now, we know from the press that you had no idea about the property business before you entered it. Why did you choose this line of work and what risks and prospects did you think lay ahead?
A：When we moved into the real estate business, it was still underdeveloped in China and an unknown area for us. But, I was betting that, as long as housing was commercial, the market would expand rapidly and be a huge place. The only question was: When? Opening up the housing market depended on China’s policies, which, I was convinced, would change sooner or later, since the country had adopted market principles after the reform and opening-up. So, the earlier we got ready, the easier it would be to take off when the chance came. We could overcome our lack of professional skills by learning by ourselves.
Q: The Yanlord Land Group has gone through various phases of development, from leaps to government controls to a depressed period. What critical turning points has it seen and, could you share with our readers your experience in dealing with them?
A: In looking back, Yanlord has gone from its main business, trade, to secondary industry, and on to real estate. At every level, we closely followed China’s market trends and made some wise guesses and entered the market depending on our capacity and hard work. That’s why we could succeed in all fields. The reason we did such a good job in real estate can be summed up as follows: First, we took the lead in applying developed countries’ design and management practices in China; and, second, we never compromised in our business philosophy - be responsible to customers. Now, while these things might sound quite easy, putting them into practice calls for a lot of effort.
Q: Many real estate companies think that China’s housing market has entered a “wintry” period, or an adjustment period. Do you agree and what does Yanlord plan to do next?
A: I agree with them, but I think the adjustment should have come even earlier. There’s a long way to go before the market is healthy again. Prices fluctuate abnormally now, and sometimes rebound, only to lead to stricter controls, and then turn low again. The changing market leaves enterprises with a dilemma: If they are too conservative in entering the market, they may miss some good opportunities and fall behind, or if they move too fast, they could suffer a greater setback if the market turns sluggish. The only thing Yanlord can do is to keep on the lookout, keep a good cash flow, and provide better products, this is an unfailing approach in a shifting situation.
Q: Sustainable development is now a hot topic in the business, and you’ve pointed out on many occasions, that Yanlord plans to survive for many years, instead of just focusing on short-term gains. So, what are Yanlord’s sustainable growth methods?
A: We always believe that honesty and trust lead to lasting operations. The ultimate goal for a company is to be trusted and supported by customers and society. You can’t go far without this. We hope to keep running for centuries, and it’s only with a good corporate culture that we can do that.
Q：What do you think of corporate citizenship?
A: An enterprise can’t operate without society, and a sense of social responsibility is the decider in long-term growth. At the most basic level, an enterprise needs to provide good products to satisfy customers. Also, a company with power still needs to help weaker groups out, and bring harmony to society. Higher-level enterprises can also contribute to the nation and society by coming up with new science and technology and products, then improving the industry’s international competitiveness.
Q: You’ve received numerous awards in your lifetime. So, what do you think the relationship is between starting one’s own business and being happy and successful overall in business? A business can bring wealth, honors, or spiritual fulfillment and accomplishment), but which do you favor most, and why?
A: Our values change over time and with the surroundings. We may focus on material wealth at first, but, after we get enough of it, we tend to look for spiritual wealth and self-fulfillment. And that’s the period I’m in - I can’t stop working for a better me, and that’s really hard, but gratifying and enjoyable.
Q: In view of the global economy, some Chinese entrepreneurs and enterprises around the world are cooperating more. What are your thoughts on this cooperation?
A: Communications between Chinese enterprises are much smoother and easier and can lead to greater success, than with non-Chinese enterprises. But, non-Chinese enterprises, especially western ones, have a sharper management and innovation edge, which is worth learning. While most of the Fortune 500 companies are in the west, there are few large Chinese enterprises among them. The technical gap can be one reason, but management and culture are more crucial reasons. We can follow the examples of the foreign companies, including the Japanese.