President and chief executive officer, Wanxiang Group Corporation
Born: In Xiaoshan, Zhejiang, China.
Education: Attended school in Singapore.
Family: Son of Lu Guanqiu.
Career: Wanxiang Group Corporation, 2003–, president.
Address: Ninwei Town, Xiaoshan, Zhejiang, China 311215; http://www.wanxiang.com/group.html.
■ Lu Weiding grew up in the shadow of his father, Lu Guanqiu. Lu Guanqiu was the son of a farmer, but he rose from owning a bicycle repair shop to starting and building Wanxiang Group Corporation, the largest and most successful automobile parts supply company in China and one of the strongest in the world. After a stint of rebellion, Lu Weiding turned himself around and, in 2003, became president of Wanxiang after his father stepped down from the position. Time and CNN named Lu Weiding one of the top 20 most influential figures in global business in 2003.
Lu had a not too surprising childhood for someone whose father was a self-proclaimed workaholic. The son of a farmer who started Wanxiang from nothing and became a millionaire, Lu spent his youth in the rather large shadow of his father. As the heir of a millionaire, Lu was brought into the family business very early. He had other ideas, however. As a rebellious teenager, Lu turned his back on his filial obligations and raced jeeps and motorcycles on the back roads of rural China. After Lu smashed into the back of a dump truck, his father sent him to school in Singapore. Lu admitted this move saved him from becoming a disappointment and failure.
Lu worked hard at school and returned to work alongside his father. An International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9002–certified manufacturer, Wanxiang supplied parts such as universal joints, bearings, and constant velocity (CV) joints to customers in more than 40 countries, including Visteon Corporation and Delphi Corporation in the United States. The company was also involved in agriculture, aquaculture, and financial products. The large company needed a clear-cut plan for growth, and as Lu learned the ropes, Lu Guanqiu contemplated the succession of his business. As reported by James Harding of the Finanical Times Lu Guanqiu said, "While I am alive the business has brought some fame and fortune, but to keep that reputation it has to operate after I am gone. I have to select some worthy successors" (January 27, 1998). Lu Weiding's turnaround and hard work paid off, because in 2003 he succeeded his father as the president and CEO of Wangxiang Group. It was believed Lu might take over as chairman of the board, but as of 2004 Lu Guanqiu had not retired. If Lu were to take over as chair, it would be the first dynastic succession of a major company in China.
Just before he became president of Wangxiang Group, Lu was listed by Time and CNN as one of the top 20 influential figures in global business in 2003. This list had a reputation for identifying the best contenders to take over the operations of their companies. Also in 2003 Lu was named to the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League. Only 129 persons from private industry were named alternate members of this group. It was a privilege and an honor far from Lu's rebellious days of racing motorcycles across the countryside.
In 2003, the year Lu took over the presidency, Wanxiang exported $380 million in goods. Said to control 2 percent of the world's automobile joints industry, in three years Wanxiang increased its sales in the United States 78 percent to $98 million, and Lu expected this figure to double. It looked as if Lu would meet his goal, because in 2003 Wanxiang was in the process of making a deal with Visteon, a company that worked closely with Ford Motor Company. The two companies began talks about having Wanxiang supply Visteon with perfect parts—a promise of zero defects in a million parts—a characteristic for which Wanxiang was well known.
In 2004 Wanxiang Group Corporation was one of the top 500 companies in China. The company was considering buying two U.S. firms and up to four firms in China. The corporate headquarters were located in Xiaoshan, China, but Wanxiang also had offices in the Untied States, Australia, Latin America, and Europe. Lu had a large empire, and the world was watching to see how he would move forward.
Bao, Guoji Jinrong, "Summary of China Press," China Business News , December 5, 2003.
Dolan, Kerry A., and Quentin Hardy, "The Challenge from China," Forbes , May 13, 2002.
Forney, Matthew, "Talking about a Chinese Dynasty: Lu Weiding Wanxiang Group," Time , December 1, 2003, p. 69.
Harding, James, "Asia-Pacific: Wanxiang Chief Plays the Generation Game—Former Cycle Repair Shop Looks to the Future," Financial Times , January 27, 1998.
"Stepping out of the Shadows," Australasian Business Intelligence , November 26, 2003.
Taiwan Security Research , http://taiwansecurity.org/News/2003/FEER-082803.htm .
"Time and CNN Name 20 of the Most Influential Figures in Global Business for 2003," November 24, 2003, http://www.na-europe.com/en/story.htx?nr=300001839 .
—Catherine Victoria Donaldson