-About Li Hongwei, Deputy General Manager of Sinochem International
When it came to coke undertaking eight years ago, no one would think of Sinochem, because its coke undertaking was just at the start-up stage compared with other companies in the industry. As time goes on, every one in the industry knows Sinochem, because its coke undertaking made leaps step by step and has become the competitor with the largest export volume and the strongest integrated capacity in domestic coke industry.
Behind the great success, we found it was not only attributed to the solidarity of Sinochem International Metallurgy & Energy Headquarters and hard work, but also a leader who regarded coke as his life and persistent pursuit. Under his leadership, Sinochem International Metallurgy & Energy Headquarters grew from weak to strong rapidly and achieved remarkable performance.
He is Li Hongwei, who has brought the continuous development of Sinochem’s coke business.
Make Coke undertaking Large and Strong
Coke is not the traditional commodity of Sinochem and it is only exported and limited by small scale, undiversified products, market and customers in the early stage. In 1996, Li Hongwei found through research that coke is semi-planning and semi-marketing commodities; the supply is more than demand in domestic market, the manufacturers are large in number and small in scale; international market is dependent upon Chinese coke for long and the export quotas could be strived for. He was very confident of the strategic value of coke undertaking and firmly believed that the business could be larger and stronger.
It is very hard to attain the leading position. The several foreign trade companies have had annual exports of 400,000 or 500,000 tons, but Sinochem has no quotas, no good supplies, no customers and no bulk experiences yet. Nobody has known coke at that time. However, relying upon the reputation, capital backup and encouraging environment of Sinochem as well as the confidence and intelligence of colleagues, Li Hongwei decided to step out of Sinochem Building and started the arduous exploration.
In order to establish reliable supply channels, Li Hongwei and his colleagues worked in Shanxi for a long time. His days in Shanxi marked by his wife totaled more than 270 during one year’s period.
Due to weak fund and work conditions, Li Hongwei and his colleagues always took hard seats and lived in roadside hotels for saving expenses. To save time, they ate cold in small restaurants and slept on the chairs of waiting rooms for innumerable times. As the principal, he must undertake heavy work in the poor conditions. There were several thousand coking plants in Shanxi, most of which are privately owned with below-standard technologies and credit standing. To control goods supply as much as possible, Li Hongwei went door-to-door to obtain information, give technical instruction, strictly control quality and establish personal relations with the plant owners. After a few years, Li Hongwei knew the coking plants inside out and could speak out the plant name at the sight of chimney.
No pains, no gains. The first ship of 40,000 tons of coke was successfully exported at the end of 1996,; nearly 400,000 tons’ export ranked Sinochem among Top ten Chinese coke exporters in 1997; Sinochem ranked among Top three with 800,000 tons in 1998; Sinochem ranked first with 1,700,000 tons in 2000 and has maintained the leading position for the recent years.
As a grassroots leader in a large scale state-owned enterprise, Li Hongwei kept in heart the principal of being responsible for the government and society while conducting market operation concentrating on return to shareholders. He requires the coke management should strictly comply with related state quota management regulations and industrial rules. Pulled by Li Hongwei, Sinochem put forth many suggestions to the government and industrial associations in the coke trade war between China and European Union. The collaboration of Sinochem eased the deterioration of situation and displays the key enterprise’s function in export trade.
Li Hongwei was not satisfied with the leading position of coke business. On the basis of coke, Li Hongwei expanded its vision to steel and relative resource industries. He plans to give full play to the advantage portfolio in resources, marketing, information, cost, etc. in a bid to boost the market clout and comprehensive competitivity of the headquarters.
Multi and lateral directions further close the relations between the Metallurgy & Energy Headquarters and customers and increase the ability of replying to economic fluctuation and profitable scope in order to build up a broader stage for its continuous and rapid growth.
Moving on in the Face of Difficulties, Establishing Sustainable Competitivity
The pursuit of Li Hongwei to coke undertaking is not temporary but sustained. With the change of Chinese coke export policies and micro situation, he consciously realized that Sinochem has formed its superior position in coke export competition. However, it weakness is very obvious compared with other competitors, such as lack of long-term stable goods supply, weak domestic logistics solution, difficult domestic trade, small profit margin and low risk-resistance ability. After analyzing the market supply and demand structure, Li Hongwei put forth the strategic direction of “extending to upper stream and transforming from trader to integrated service provider”.
However, the advantage of Sinochem is trade for years and our personnel are more engaged in trade, which is totally different from industrial investment with its simple process, short cycle and simple resource element. The managers with traditional trade background not only have inherent difficulties but encounters huge risks. To overcome the difficulties and extend to logistics, courage and long-term hard work is needed. For the sustained development of coke undertaking, Li Hongwei moved on in the face of difficulties and accepted the challenge to make new adjustment of the metallurgy department.
Under the support and courage, Sinochem coke began to enter the upstream and firstly established Huanda Coking Plant in Houma of Shanxi for practicing its environment-friendly coking technologies in 2001, and it launched special coking joint venture with Zhenjiang Coking Group. Despite the hard process, the attempts are active and beneficial, which not only solves the instability of coke supply and provides stable technology and quality guarantee for customers’ long-term and diverse demands, but also created technical service and industrial development platform and optimized assets and profit structure for the metallurgy department. Meanwhile, Li Hongwei strengthened its capacity of transportation, processing and port operation and established yards in Tianjin, Lianyungang and other ports, forming the logistics channels from China inland to ocean to coastal regions and river shores. The logistics channels extend the aftereffect and profit-making process of coke operation and secure the sustained profitability.
Li Hongwei and coke operation has become the pioneer and integral part of Sinochem’s personnel and business revolution.
Building up Team with Heart
“Attracting employees with undertakings, retaining employees with charm, stimulating employees with passion, respecting employees, moving employees with management, training employees with need, satisfying employees with accomplishments and comfort employees with good treatment.” The above is Li Hongwei’s understanding of “People First”.
Li Hongwei has a notebook for recording the birthdays of employees. He will celebrate every employee’s birthday by himself unless he is on a business trip. Every time he came back from abroad, he won’t forget to bring every employee a small present. Every employee will keep it in heart. His behavior set a soundless model for everybody to work wholeheartedly without being urged.
Li Hongwei is the widely acknowledged authority in coke industry, but he has never kept his knowledge or experiences accumulated in the past years as private property and he is always ready to pass these knowledge and experiences to the employees without any reservation. With his selfless imparting and scientific arrangement, new employees could work independently and find their feet in the department very soon.
With the incredible sincerity and generosity, the coke export team has grown into a stable, high-performance and professional group under the leadership of Li Hongwei. With the development of strategy, the Metallurgy & Energy Department still keeps absorbing excellent personnel and has established the operation teams of ores, steel, coal as well as port logistics. The investment and production team are under construction. Today, Li Hongwei is considering the development of employees and training of support teams. He hope the abilities of employees could grow together with the undertakings, and the values of employees with those of the enterprise.
Where there is a responsible leader, there are responsible teams. The continuous change of supply and demand structure has posed severe challenges to the uneven coke operators. In the ever-changing market, Sinochem International Metallurgy & Energy Department insists on focusing on customers, honoring contracts and credit and providing high quality coke and services, proving to the industry that Sinochem is a responsible competition contender.
With the support of company management, Li Hongwei and his Metallurgy & Energy Department achieved a continuously-growing profits and was awarded by the group company for many times. In this September, Li Hongwei was appointed Deputy General Manager of Sinochem International under the approval of the Board of Sinochem International. In the face of achievements and prize, Li Hongwei is very calm and he often says, “Without the hard work and all-out devotion of my colleagues in Metallurgy & Energy Department, I would not achieve the success only by myself.” It is the future that he thought more of. Given the intense market competition and the specialty of coke industry, he is mulling how to make the industry large and strong……