In some ways, Wu Hao appears to be a typical member of the Generation Y demographic in China. He’s young, energetic and loves social media. However, an in-depth interview reveals many unconventional experiences and characteristics of the 29-year-old general manager of Dynisco China.
Earlier this year, Wu sold his company, Shanghai Hao-Ying Measurement & Control Technology Co. Ltd., to Franklin, Mass.-based Dynisco LLC, creating a strengthened China presence for Dynisco.
Dynisco retained Wu and his staff — some 50 motivated Chinese people, all born after 1980.
It was a long time ago, however, when Wu, a high school dropout, initially formed the belief that any ambitious Chinese company eventually needs to become global either through acquiring or being acquired, he said in an interview at Chinaplas, held April 18-21 in Shanghai.
“I was a very rebellious student,” he said with a grin, “and since leadership was my natural talent, other kids liked to follow my lead. Teachers thought I was too much of a troublemaker.” He left school, his hometown of Yueyang and the conventional life path for someone his age.
He made a bold move to Shanghai and started working for his cousin’s business, Shanghai Zhaohui Pressure Apparatus Co. Ltd., which makes extrusion sensors and control instrumentation. He started by working on the production line, and during the following years, went through quite a few different jobs, including production supervisor, testing service, sales, human resources and procurement.
In the meantime, despite his earlier history with school, he never stopped learning and has obtained professional certificates in business, planning and human resources, as well as a bachelor’s degree in engineering and an MBA. With the foundation of knowledge, he carefully observed Zhaohui’s operation from his own perspectives.
Zhaohui first started a discussion with Dynisco about a possible acquisition in 2004, Wu said. Due diligence work was completed in 2005, but the deal fell through in 2006.
Also in 2006, Wu left Zhaohui and started Hao-Ying with about $250,000.
“I needed freedom to run a company completely based on my own ideas,” he said.
He set a clear goal from the very beginning: to be acquired by Dynisco. “I was determined to build something that Dynisco wouldn’t be able to turn down.”
Wu called himself a “Dynisco-kong.” Kong, a Chinese buzzword among young people, means passion and obsession, but in a healthy way.
“Even back then, I probably knew more about Dynisco’s history and culture more than many of their own employees,” he said.
Dynisco was first founded in 1953 by Chinese-American inventor, entrepreneur and MIT professor Y.T. Li and his brother S.Y. Lee. The legendary Y.T. Li was born in Beijing, obtained his master’s and doctoral degrees from MIT in just two years, and led the building of China’s first indigenous aircraft engine during World War II. He died in August.
“Isn’t it amazing? The company had global roots, and related to China,” Wu added.
Wu is such a “Dynisco-kong” that even some important parts of his personal life have connections with Dynisco. “Jessie Yu found my company and applied for a marketing job. She majored in English in college. I don’t speak much English, so she helped me communicate with Dynisco.” Later the two fell in love and married.
A coincidence or not, when Wu finally sealed the deal with Dynisco on Jan. 5, it was the same day as their wedding anniversary, and the signing venue was the Marriott Hotel in Hongqiao, where the couple held their wedding ceremony.
Now, even with a young child, Wu said he still works 14-15 hours a day all year around. “I enjoy working, because work allows me to explore my true nature — a sincere but forceful leader,” he said.
In addition to his work for Dynisco China, he also plays an angel investor for multiple projects run by young entrepreneurs.
For the sensor business, one of his latest projects is to bring order to the marketplace on both pricing and distribution channels, ending the vicious pricing war and cracking down on counterfeit products. In China’s current environment, he believes both government regulatory agencies and corporate executives’ personal influence are critical.
“It’s a [$63 million to $80 million] market and there are three to four [domestic] players,” he said, “My principle is to earn respect from my competitors and push the entire industry forward.”