The Founder of Haier

Zhang Ruimin

The founder of Haier Group, the father of Rendanheyi business model, one of the global top 50 thinkers, Secretary of Haier Group Party Committee, Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of Haier Group.
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Business Model Innovation

Build an IoT Ecosystem Brand with the Rendanheyi Model

921 Summit Forum Opening Video
Rendanheyi is a business model first described by Zhang Ruimin, Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of Haier Group. "Ren" means employees. The definition is broad. First of all, it is an open definition, and “Ren” refers to any person, in or outside the company, who is competent to bid for a position in the company. Second, employees are no longer passive executers of orders, but entrepreneurs and dynamic partners who have the 3 Rights: on-site decision-making rights, human resources rights, and resource distribution rights. "Dan" refers to user value. The definition of “Dan” (user value) is also broad. First, one has to compete for a “Dan”, or an “order”, instead of being assigned an order by one's supervisor; second, the “Dan” is a dynamic, optimized leading-target, rather than a narrow, fixed order. "Heyi" means the integration or alignment of employee value and user value realization. Every employee should directly face the users and create user value. Employees should realize their own value through creating value for users.
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Haier Six Strategic Stages

  • Brand Building

    Strategy Stage

    1984-1991
    Quality products created by quality people
  • Diversification

    Strategy Stage

    1991-1998
    Liquid assets driven by motivated people
  • Internationalization

    Strategy Stage

    1998-2005
    An international brand built by intertional talent
  • Global Branding

    Strategy Stage

    2005-2012
    A glocalized brand developed by localized Haier people
  • Networking

    Strategy Stage

    2012-2019
    User experience scenarios created with EMC
  • Ecosystem

    Strategy Stage

    2019-

1984 Front gate of Qingdao Refrigerator Factory.

When Zhang Ruimin was appointed as a boss, the factory had a huge deficit of 1.47 million CNY. It was the loan that Zhang secured from the rural production brigade that helped the whole factory survive another year.

1985 Haier smashed 76 defective refrigerators.

To raise employees' awareness of quality, Zhang invited employees to join him in smashing 76 defective refrigerators with sledgehammers, sending a strong message of “Make Quality Products, Compete for Gold Medals”. After that, the “Branding Building Strategy” was implemented.

1986 Ambassador Per Fischer gave Zhang Ruimin a thumbs up.

Former West Germany ambassador to China Mr. Per Fischer made a special trip from Beijing to Qingdao and visited Qingdao Refrigerator Factory. Mr. Per Fische was impressed by the stable and efficient working pace made possible by Zhang Ruimin.

1987 Haier won a bid in an international tendering for the first time. Representatives from different countries were invited to visit Haier.

On 1st February, in an international tendering by WHO, Haier refrigerators competed with over ten products from other countries and won a bid for the first time.

1988 Zhang Ruimin came back with a gold medal.

The Former National Economy Commission began to select domestic products for the National Quality Product Award. The Qindao-Liebherr 4-Star BCD-212L Side-by-Side refrigerator won the first National Quality Product Award Gold Medal in China's refrigerator industry. Among the 13 gold and silver medalist companies, Haier was the youngest one with only four years' experience since Zhang assumed the post.

1989 Customers rushed to purchase Qindao-Liebherr refrigerators in the 1980s.

Due to the fluctuations in the market, customers chose to wait for refrigerators with lowered prices. While many factories reduced prices to increase the sales, Haier, with its renowned brand and reputation for high quality, raised the price by 12% and still attracted a lot of customers.

1990 Zhang Ruimin (second from the left) received the Enterprise Reform Innovation Award (Sails Award).

Haier won the Enterprise Reform Innovation Award (Sails Award) and National Excellent Enterprise Management Award (Golden Horse Award), laying the foundation of talents and experience for future expansion.

1991 Press conference on the establishment of Qindao-Haier Group.

On 14th November, with the approval from Qingdao Municipal Government, the Qindao-Haier Group was set up with the inclusion of Qingdao Air Conditioner Factory and Qingdao Refrigerator Factory. Since then, Haier jumped from Branding Building Stage to the Diversification Stage.

1992 Foundation stone laying ceremony of Qingdao Haier Industrial Park.

In June, Haier seized the opportunity to acquire a land of 800 mu (53.36 hectares) in the high-tech park in eastern Qingdao and began the construction of China's first home appliance industrial park.

1993 Zhang Ruimin presented at the listing ceremony of Haier Group.

On 19th November, Haier (stock code: 600690) was listed in Shanghai Stock Exchange. Part of the fund raised from the listing were distributed to the construction of Haier Industrial Park.

1994 Internal newspaper Haier Ren published the article To Achieve a Higher Level on its 1994.01.10 issue.

In early 1990s, Haier began self-management pilot model among employees. The door seal team of the second affiliated factory was upgraded from the first Inspection-free Team to the first Self-management Team. Zhou Yunjie, then-director of Second Affiliated Factory to the Qingdao Refrigerator Factory and the incumbent president of Haier Group, wrote an inspiring article to encourage innovation among employees.

1995 Haier acquired the former Red Star Electric Appliance Co.,.

In July, Haier turned the loss-making Red Star Electric Appliance Co., around in only three months. Haier acquired “stunned fishes” (firms with strong products but poor leadership) and imported Haier culture to activate acquired companies and achieved constant expansion.

1996 Zhang Ruimin received a Five Star Diamond Award from American Academy of Hospitality Sciences.

In June, American Academy of Hospitality Sciences gave Haier Five Star Diamond Award and Zhang Ruimin a Five Star Diamond Lifetime Achievement Award. Haier is the first Chinese home appliance company to introduce “Star Service”.

1997 Haier Press Conference Domotechnica' 97 Cologne & Haier Exclusive Agency Certificates Bestowing Ceremony.

In February, Haier participated in Domotechnica' 97 Cologne held in Cologne, Germany. The news that Haier issued Exclusive Agency Certificates to foreign retailers was a sign that Chinese products has entered the world stage and Haier has been recognized in the international market.

1998 Zhang Ruimin was invited to give a speech at Harvard. Photo was taken with professor Lynn Sharp Paine.

On 25th March, Zhang Ruimin was invited to Harvard and gave a speech about “Haier's Success with Stunned Fish”. Zhang was the first Chinese entrepreneur to give a speech at Harvard. Haier was the first Chinese enterprise to be included in the Harvard Business School Case Library.

1999 Foundation stone laying ceremony of the Haier American Factory.

On 30th April, Haier built the Haier American Factory in South Carolina, USA, a major step for its internationalization strategy. Haier's internationalization strategy started with making a firm stance in the markets of developed countries which have the strictest entry standards and continued the momentum to that of developing countries.

2000 30th World Economic Forum.

From 27th January to 1st February, Zhang Ruimin was invited to 30th World Economic Forum and delivered a keynote speech My Opinions on the New Economy, introducing the idea “No Internet, No Future”.

2001 Signing ceremony, Haier purchased a Meneghetti's refrigerator factory in Italy.

On 19th June, the signing ceremony of Haier's acquisition of a Meneghetti's Italy refrigerator factory was held at the Haier headquarter, marking the first cross-border acquisition by a Chinese white goods enterprise.

2002 The Haier Building in the USA.

On 4th March, Haier purchased the iconic former Greenwich Bank Building, located in midtown New York as its headquarter in North America.

2003 Haier neon advertising sign in Ginza Square, Tokyo, Japan.

On 20th August, a Haier advertising sign was lit up on the top of Seven Treasures Building on the Yonchome, Ginza Square, Tokyo, Japan. Haier was the first Chinese enterprise to set up an advertising sign in Ginza, Tokyo, Japan.

2004 American customers lined up to purchase Haier air conditioners.

On 1st July, in Manhattan Square, three blocks away from Haier American Headquarter, American customers waited in a long queue to purchase Haier air conditioners. 7000 units were sold out in only seven hours.

2005 Signing ceremony, Haier became the White Goods Official Sponsor of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

On 12th August, Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games made an official announcement at Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center: Haier became the White Goods Sponsor of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

2006 Opening ceremony of the Pakistan Haier-Ruba Economic Zone.

The Pakistan Haier-Ruba Economic Zone jointly constructed by Haier and Pakistan Ruba Group was officially opened. It's the one of the first overseas industrial parks built by China. It's also among the first China Overseas Economic Zones initiated by the Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China.

2007 Haier home appliances were delivered to rural areas in Yantai.

On 21st, December, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Commerce launched the Home Appliances for the Rural Areas program in Yantai City. Haier won the most bids in different categories in the tendering.

2008 Foundation stone laying ceremony of One Gold Medal, One Hope School project.

On the day the Beijing Olympic Games opened, Haier launched One Gold Medal, One Hope School project. During the Olympic Games, Haier, as the only Beijing Olympic Games Offical Sponsor of White Goods, provided 60,000 units of energy-saving innovation products to 37 Olympic venues.

2009 According to EUROMONITOR, Haier was recognized as the number one appliance brand in the world for the first time.

On 1st December, according to the world-renowned customer market research institute EUROMONITOR, Haier became the number one appliance brand in the world, accounting for a market share of 5.1%. It was the first time a Chinese white goods brand was recognized as the world's number one.

2010 World Expo Pavilions.

Haier, together with the Shandong Pavilion, the America Pavilion, the Italy Pavilion, the New Zealand Pavilion and the Shimao Pavilion, brought the culture and philosophy of innovation to the World Expo. Throughout the history of the World Expo, Haier is the first enterprise to sponsor multiple pavilions via global subsidiary companies.

2011 Press conference of Haier's acquisition of Japan SANYO Electric Co., Ltd.

On 28th July, Haier acquired the home appliance business of Japan SANYO Electric Co., Ltd in Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippine, and Vietnam. This purchase meant that Haier has achieved a glocalized structure in Japan and southeast Asia and taken a major step in its global branding strategy.

2012 Zhang Ruimin received an IMD Management Thought Leadership Award.

On 11th December, Zhang Ruimin was invited to the top European business school IMD in Switzerland and IESE in Spain to give speeches about the Rendanheyi Win-win Model. “Haier Rendanheyi Cross-culture Fusion” was included in IESE Business School Case Library. IMD conferred him an IMD Management Thought Leadership Award.

2013 Press conference, Haier and Alibaba announced a strategic partnership.

On 9th December, Haier and Alibaba announced a strategic partnership, aimed at combing Haier's strength in supply chain management, logistics & warehousing, delivery and installation service, and Alibaba's advantage in the e-commerce ecosystem. Together, both parties committed to building a new, comprehensive system and standards, covering the transportation, delivery and installation of home appliances and large items. This system is open to the whole society.

2014 Zhang Ruimin was named among The World's 50 Greatest Business Leaders.

On 20th March, Fortune published the list of The World's 50 Greatest Business Leaders, with Zhang Ruimin ranking 22nd. Other honorees included Warren Buffet, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and Apple CEO Tim Cook etc. Fortune cited Zhang for “his radical management innovations…very rare in western countries and even ground-breaking in China.”

2015 Press conference of the launch of Haier Smart Home.

On 10th March, at the Appliance & Electronics World Expo, Haier released 7 Smart Ecosystems, published the practice of Industry 4.0 Strategy, and launched an online user interactive customization platform and a resource platform for module makers.

2016 Haier and GE acquisition settlement.

On 7th June, Haier Group-controlled Qingdao Haier Co.,Ltd (SH600690,“Qingdao Haier") and GE (NYSE: GE) jointly announced the settlement of the paperwork of Qingdao Haier's acquisition of GE home appliance business. After the settlement, GE home appliance business was officially included as part of Qingdao Haier.

2017 Haier COSMOPlat.

The Haier COSMOPlat industrial internet platform was designated by three major international standard institution ISO, IEEE, and IEC to lead the formulation of international standards of mass customization.

2018 Zhang Ruimin was awarded the medal of Reform Pioneer.

On 18th December, in the celebration of the 40th anniversary of Reform and Opening-Up, Zhang Ruimin, as the representative of excellent entrepreneur in business management, was conferred the title of Reform Pioneer.

2019 the Global President of BRANDZ shared Haier's success.

On 11th June, BRANDZ™ published the Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brand 2019 in New York. Haier, as an IoT Ecosystem Brand, was included in the rankings. IoT Ecosystem was a new category included in BRANDZ™ in 2019 and Haier was the first brand made to the list.

BrandZ™ Unveils Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands 2020, Haier Starring as the Only IoT Ecosystem Brand

On 30th June 2020, WPP, the world's largest advertising company and Kantar, a brand research expert company, jointly unveiled the list of 2020 BrandZ Most Valuable Global Brands. As the only IoT ecosystem brand on the list, Haier's global ranking rose by 21 compared to last year, marking a significant improvement in brand value and a leading role in ecosystem branding. Haier also received the world's first BrandZ IoT Ecosystem Brand Award, showing its leading role in global brand evolution.

A World Leader in Open Innovation
Global Presence in over 160 Countries/Districts Open Innovation for a Customized Life

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