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The Transformation of CTK President Zhang Zhongliang

Volume 3, 2013

By Kelly Chen & Joyce Chen

Determined to challenge fate and carve his own career path, Zhang Zhongliang (CEO 2013) founded China Precision Technology 23 years ago.

From its modest beginnings as a small workshop set up with an RMB 20,000 loan, China Precision is now a major conglomerate with a total workforce of over 4,000. Its operations have expanded overseas with offices in Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. China Precision has three subsidiary companies specialising in electronics, automobiles, optics, equipment manufacturing, health & environment, etc. It is now the world’s largest supplier of electronic tuning unit parts and an influential player in high- and low-frequency connectors, LCD frames, laser disc readers and automobile ornaments. 

A frequent participant in various CEIBS Executive Education programmes since 1998, Zhang returned to the school’s Shanghai campus in 2013 for dual purposes: to join the CEO programme and to invest in his alma mater. He spearheaded an initiative to have CTK become the title sponsor of the cado 2013 CEIBS Master Forum. CTK, one of China Precision’s subsidiaries, specialises in health & environment and its key product is the cado blue ray air purifier. During the signing ceremony, CTK also donated RMB 800,000 worth of its air purifiers to the school; and 2% of all sales from CEIBS alumni will be set aside as a cado Scholarship for qualified CEIBS MBA students.

Rejuvenating his Career

Light on assets, heavy on wisdom, and adept at using outside resources to his advantage – those were the key elements of Zhang’s efforts to rejuvenate his entrepreneurship career in 2010. Then in his forties, he decided to independently develop new brands and promote the industrial upgrading and transformation of his company. The decision came after sluggish growth in what had always been China Precision’s most lucrative business – TV parts. Determined to breathe new life into his company, Zhang turned to industrial transformation. While studying in Taiwan in 2011, he was greatly impressed by the books of Stan Shih, the Taiwanese PC guru, and he came to understand that work must be done on the two ends of the smiling curve (the upward trends) of a company’s growth: R&D at one end and brand promotion at the other. Based on these principles, Zhang formulated a clear strategy for his company’s development over the next two decades. According to his plans, the years 2010 – 2015 would be the pivotal stage of China Precision’s industrial upgrading and transformation.

Between 2010 and 2012, Zhang led his team in a series of bold moves: a joint venture in auto parts with a Japanese company; expansion into the optics field by acquiring Magu Optics; as well as a foray into health & environment and equipment manufacturing. He allowed his team to gradually take over the company’s traditional businesses while he focused on new areas of development.

The year 2013 will again be a milestone in Zhang’s career. At the beginning of the year, after redefining the goal and meaning of employee commitment, China Precision launched the “care for employees” project and started a “cultural transformation” toward “creating a happy home”. Zhang believes that through a general transformation in mind-set, behaviour and corporate culture, employees will have a sense of belonging, of being a part of a larger goal which will broaden their perspectives and approach to work. This transformation at all levels, he is convinced, will facilitate the conglomerate’s much-needed industrial upgrade.

Expanding… with a High-end Brand

Over the years, during his OEM partnership with many international A-list electronics companies, Zhang has established strong ties of mutual trust with many outstanding individuals. Many of these people have become important assets in his entrepreneurship career.

For example Noriyuki Koga used to be an executive in Sony China’s Audio & Video Department. During his three decades with the company, he was involved in the R&D of the Sony Walkman prototype and its subsequent products. Now he is CTK’s General Manager. 

Zhang co-founded CTK (Shenzhen) with Koga and other partners, thus boldly venturing into the field of health & environment. After a strenuous R&D process, Zhang and Koga finally turned out their first product – the cado portable air purifier equipped with an innovative blue ray catalyst as its filter core. The series of cado products received the highest purification rating from the AHAM (Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers) which has the industry’s strictest standards. Meanwhile, one product in the cado series AP-C100 won the 2013 Red Dot Design Award of Germany. Since being introduced in 2012, cado products have sold quite well in Japan: within 5 months of being launched, they had the second largest market share in Japan.

Today, CTK plays an active role in developing soft water purification systems and other health-related equipment such as waste gas processing, waste water processing and soil improvement. This was a key component in Zhang’s efforts to rejuvenate his entrepreneurship career: he moved away from high-consumption businesses and turned to more environment-friendly products such as water, air and organic food.

Returning the Favour

Since 1998, Zhang has attended more than 20 Executive Education programmes at CEIBS, and his studies have had a profound influence on his personal career and corporate development. Knowing the value of a CEIBS education, he has also sent a dozen of his key employees to participate in the school’s CFO, CEO and EMBA programmes.

By having CTK as title sponsor for the cado 2013 CEIBS Master Forum and donating cado blue ray air purifiers to the school, he is expressing his gratitude to his alma mater.

“I’ve benefited a lot from CEIBS, and now I’m just returning the favour,” Zhang explained. “The word ‘cado’ means ‘gift’ in French and ‘flower arrangement’ in Japanese. I gave this gift to CEIBS because I wanted to share in beauty and health with my professors, classmates and alumni.”