Lawrence Lin, MLS: only you can kill yourself
Production areas are ten times larger than most huge lighting factory in Russia. Parking place is for ten thousand motorbikes. Turtle soup instead of borsch in factory canteen. Our editor-in-chief got ofrom the seen. Which place did we visit this time?
Correct, that is China. And largest Chinese LED packaging company — MLS Co. Some of our readers could get acquainted with it during the last four Interlight Moscow show. For those who haven’t had such a nice possibility we are prepared this few articles which helps to learn inner life of company and get more familiar to it and its general manager. So, let us introduce: Lawrence Lin.
— Lawrence, nice to meet you again. As a start of interview could you tell our readers about company MLS?
— Likewise, it’s nice to see you again too. MLS Co. was established in 1997, more than 19 years ago. First of all we started business from the LED packaging, the component and devices business. You know, at those time there still no real white LED, even blue LED not in mass production and very low brightness. Major application of the LED was the toys, home appliance and electric devices indicator. So we started from it.
Secondary, from the 2003, we are launched production of the Christmas LED. The third market we launched is the LED indoor and outdoor moving sign. And fourth market we launched in 2011. It was lighting and illumination LED. But not only manufacturing also doing branding and channel development.
— What are the main achievements of your company?
— In 2015 TOP-3 industries in China: number one is high speed railway, second one is nuclear. And third one is lighting. We are in TOP-3 Chinese industry. And we are number one in the whole world by value of middle power and the low power LED and have 50% market share in mainland China.
WE ARE NUMBER ONE IN THE WHOLE WORLD BY VALUE OF MIDDLE POWER AND THE LOW POWER LED AND HAVE 50% MARKET SHARE IN MAINLAND CHINA
And after 13 years, on Christmas LED market we have more than 70% market share globally and 90 percent in US. All of the Christmas LED you can buy in the supermarket hundred percent comes from MLS. So, we have a joke about it. If the president of Mainland China will ask Obama to visit China and he refills, president will call to my chairman and ask to stop to ship the Christmas LED to USA :)
— We asked about past and present, so need to ask about future. What are the plans of company?
— Last year we are listed on Shenzen stock market and it will help to invest for our future. So we did some acquirements, one of them is the bidders for the Osram lamps factory.
Also we are investing in another company — KAISTAR to help us to announce our product branch. This year we purchased ShaoXing filament bulbs factory. This factory used to be one of the Osram factories.
We are always searching the ways to grow and make some preparations right now for the next five years. We always plan direction, target and keep developing. Now we are plan three key directions — component business, lighting brand business and also the providable business (OEM/ODM).
— Which factories you have in your company?
— We have four factories. Our main headquarter In Guangdong province, in Zhongshan. That city is very important for lighting industry. You know 70% light and lighting products makes in China, 70% of them in Guangdong province, 70% out of them in Zhongshang. Here we make LED packaging and row materials, also here is tooling design and manufacturing center.
70% LIGHT AND LIGHTING PRODUCTS MAKES IN CHINA, 70% OF THEM IN GUANGDONG PROVINCE, 70% OUT OF THEM IN ZHONGSHANG
In JiangXi Province are two factories. One is Ji`an still doing the infrastructure, RGB for move sign. Another one in Xin Yu is super huge factory for light products assembly and PSP.
In Zhe Jiang province, in ShaoXing city we plan to produce filaments bulbs. Now ijust finished procedure of acquisition.
— How many employees do you have there?
— Approximately 12000 employees work on our factories, 10000 of them in Zhongshan.
—Which markets are most important for you company?
— For component business first market is China. India is another big market — number one LED bulb buyer in whole world. Right now Indian government launched a lot of tenders for LED bulbs and LED streetlight. They need 150 million pieces of LED bulbs and more than 35 million pieces for street light. But all of the products have to be assembling in India.
Top markets for lighting are China and USA. Mostly we invest in this and its 50% market share totally. Other is European and some emergent market like Latin America, Africa, Middle East, South East Asia and Russia. And in some markets we have achievements, but still have big place where to grow.
— What are your plans for a business expansion?
— Right now in mainland China we have a lot of manufacturers but no nationwide distributors. It`s just a small shops, not like in US or even Russia. So we have to develop our business globally and build a brand name in USA. It is very good business, because everything is nationwide — retail, whole sailors. So they need a big brand name and big supplier. Even in European not so big but close. International projects for us are to build up global channels and brand name in lighting industry in European and US. Right now we are doing this. We building local team and building distribution networks. This year we start to build up a branch in West European market — France (Paris) and Romania. We hope after 3-5 years we can be one of the top stream and we hope for 5-10 billion US dollar turnover per year.
— If China and USA is 50% market share for you, how many percent’s is Russian market?
— Less than 1 percent, but this market very huge and has a big potential. We will invest more in it although economic is not so good. Lighting does not depend on economic. Bulb going older – you need to buy new one.
LIGHTING DOES NOT DEPEND ON ECONOMIC. BULB GOING OLDER – YOU NEED TO BUY NEW ONE
— Do you have any plans for cooperation in Russia?
— Now in Russia we only do some providable business for some local brand names, not big business. But we want to increase it and really want to develop the business with all of the lighting companies. Even we are looking for some cooperation and have so many resources for it. We can supply lamps and fixtures, middle power and the low power LED and give very good cost performance. We can supply the service to different kinds of customers and partners. In USA we have slogan “Affordable performance — good products, good quality”. Anyone who wants — we are open for discussion.
Also we want to develop local team to find more and more local opportunities to develop business. I think in Russia maybe we have some good potential lighting fixtures designers and engineers-designers.
— Your company was an exhibitor on Interlight Moscow last few years. What is your impression from lighting fair in Russia? Can you compare to other fairs?
— I have attended this fair three or four time and my impression that it is a big show for the local Russian brand names and for some international brands like Philips and Osram. Most of fair divided by country — Russia, Turkey, China and etc. But still we cannot find an organizer who can treat a big company.
My suggestion it should be more international style especially forum. Maybe is good idea to invite some technologies companies to make presentations about latest achievements, even Chinese. We are serious and not bad and have a lot of experience in LED lighting. It will be more and more interesting for whole industry. On the show is hard to find impressive and fantastic production. In Frankfurt we can find a new directions, but in Russia not. For example BOOS lighting group is very strong in metal production, but in latest technologies unfortunately not. Show some real latest technology like intelligent control for the residential, commercial and even industrial lighting or ILT. Now are important intelligent control systems, not the high efficiency. I think capability in competition can help to improve.
ON THE INTERLIGHT MOCOW IS HARD TO FIND IMPRESSIVE AND FANTASTIC PRODUCTION. IN FRANKFURT WE CAN FIND A NEW DIRECTIONS, BUT IN RUSSIA NOT
Also some talent people in Russia can design and develop more and more technology and products to provide really best for Russia. So big potential in it and Russian industry don`t need to copy only or buy from China.
— What is your most strong impression in Russia?
— I think infrastructure and architecture most impressive — real art from 500 years ago. Or finished hundred years before, like subway — it`s fantastic. Even you can live in subway. Compare to Russia China is so practical. I can’t imagine why Chinese people couldn`t do this. Maybe it is different mind and different culture.
— Do you have any existing agreement or partnership in Russia?
— Actually now we doing some providable business, OEM and ODM. We work with some companies, I cannot tell you because its confidential agreements. But still very smal. Hope there will be more and more. Because of currency changes companies very careful and make very small order. Not like 3 years before.
— Could you tell us about logistic and customs? How it works in China?
— Logistic and customs now are really nice and normal. That is totally different compare 10 years before, when some regulations were not so clear and government was like a father to instruct you and tries to control. Now they set up the regulations for customs and try to support and service you in everything.
Everything is officially, under the law regulations, without under the table things. Number of custom and logistic services growing rapidly and you can find very good companies.
— We are curious about inside life of the company. Can you tell us about Human Resource Management, inner life of employees? How do you manage it?
— Our company MLS only 19 years old, but right now we have more than 1000 employees who work here more than 10 years.
Our HR department takes care of the employees, living, health and etc. Actually we are too. We treat employees like a family and really encourage in all of them. They can work here with staying whole family. So many companies they don`t allows for relatives to work together or in same departments. But opposite of others we encourage this, that they could feel MLS as second home.
On our site quarter we have a lot of facilities — sport ground, supermarket and cafeterias. Food varies there up to local preferences of people from different districts of country. And food is the same for top level managers and normal employees (ed. note: later, by accident we met in café chairman of MLS, Sun Qinghua, who simply had dinner as others).
Also we have an MLS College we are doing some off the job training and send a lot of employees to attend some outsourcing training program for managing, presentation, marketing, sales and a lot of other.
Our salary is almost highest in this industry for each employee. Average monthly wage income of workers more than 4000 RMB. (ed. note: 40000 RUR) per month. Usually in our industry is 3000 RMB.
Even every year we have two very big activities for the whole factory. More than a 10000 employees attend annual party of company. And it looks so huge and amazing. We did a lot of job in work with humans. I think, everyone can spend all one’s life here if can keep grows yourself and improve yourself to catch up evolution of the company. You always can grow with us because we have more and more opportunities for everyone.
— Lawrence, HR is just a part of the process. What about Production Management and manufacturing control. We heard that you test now automatic line. Have you ever applied any new and unusual solutions?
— Actually the way we managing production line is the really different compare to our competitors in China even globally. For example component and packaging production line — most of our production line from first day to the last day in one year produces only one single and same product in one year. And we keep improving utility and productivity to organize on the production line more and more automatic. Initially, maybe one person one employee takes care of only two or three automatic machines. But finally after two or three years they have quality circle, group of workers who do the same or similar work, whom meet regularly to identify, analyze and solve work-related problems. One team was improving together and got the bonus together, so they have intension for improving everything on the production line.
— What is the result?
— Production output for components two years ago were 20 billion pieces per month, but now more than 45 billion pieces per month. Increase double but with the same employees.
— Competition. How do you deal with it?
— Actually really we had a lot of competitors who always tries to fight and compete with us in the last 19 years. Now most of them changed the direction or moved to different industry, so now we can find them only in the history book of component business. And we keep improving and enhance ourselves to be stronger and stronger holding in our mind three very important words — pragmatic, loyalty and innovation. Because globally you have only one competitor — are yourself, because no one is so huge and only you can kill yourself.
GLOBALLY YOU HAVE ONLY ONE COMPETITOR — ARE YOURSELF, BECAUSE NO ONE IS SO HUGE AND ONLY YOU CAN KILL YOURSELF
— Next few questions for you. Personally.
— For me? OK :)
— How do you plan your time?
— Our company is very high speed. Annual grow rate is 60 % and our chairman always finds more and more opportunities for grow for next 2-3 years. So I spend at work 16-18 hours. And mostly I travel, so I spend my time on the way from country to country, from airport to airport, from company to company and from meeting to meeting. My flight mileage is 270 000 miles last year. But I have 6-8 hours of my personal time and sometimes I spend it for sleeping (laughing).
— How do you handle negotiation?
— We always have a same goal, so most important in communication is to build up a platform to share information and find a balance point. So I`m always searching for it.
— What is your style in team?
— Every day and every moment we have too many decisions to take. I tried to be a team leader before. And I think, because I’m a rush guy, I pushed a lot and sometimes my team hated me. Now I try to be like coach and steak holder and give more and more space. Don’t make decision, just doing something like service to help.
— What is your formula of success in business?
— First of all is speed. Secondary is dedicate or concentration, like focus. And never giving up for goal you want to achieve.
— Thank you!