Dong Mingzhu: Businesswoman Who Created an Air-Conditioning Empire

September 11, 2015
Editor: Eileen Cheng
Dong Mingzhu: Businesswoman Who Created an Air-Conditioning Empire
Dong Mingzhu []

Dong Mingzhu, 61, president of Gree Electric Appliances based in Zhuhai in south China's Guangdong Province, has successfully transformed the company from a run-of-the-mill domestic brand into the world's largest air-conditioner maker based on sales, with her outstanding competence, extraordinary vision and selfless devotion.

Dong joined Gree in 1990 as a salesperson and achieved sales of over 30 million yuan (U.S. $4.7 million) a year. When a group of key salespersons resigned en masse during tough times, she stayed with the company and was elected unanimously as its sales director in 1994.

By carrying out sweeping reforms and streamlining the selling system, in 1995 she brought Gree a revenue seven times that of the previous level.

In 2001, Dong became president of Gree, and under her leadership, the company has achieved the top sales volumes of household air conditioners in the world for nine consecutive years since 2005, with an operating revenue exceeding 140 billion yuan (U.S. $21.95 billion) in 2014.

Despite her remarkable achievements, Dong never ceases to move the company forward and always pays significant attention to technological innovation.

The world's first production line based on the R290 refrigerant, built in 2011 and developed by Gree, was praised by experts in China and Germany as "globally advanced." In 2013, the company ushered in the era of zero-energy-consumption central air conditioners, based on solar power, another innovation wowing the world. The next year, the company was awarded the second prize in "Enterprise Technology Innovation Engineering" for its Independent Innovation Engineering System Construction project.

To realize her goal of "renewing" Gree every five years, Dong has been toiling over the past quarter century, working more than 14 hours a day with no annual leave.

In 2004, she was elected one of the Top 50 Businesswomen and one of the World's Most Influential Businesswomen of Chinese Origin. China Central Television (CCTV), the country's national broadcaster, honored her in 2006 as  Economic Person of the Year.

She was also ranked the most powerful woman in business in China, as shown on Fortune China's list of the 25 most powerful Chinese businesswomen, released in November last year.

She has also won both the National Labor Day Award and the March 8th Red Banner Pacesetter Award, an honor bestowed by the All-China Women's Federation upon exemplary workers who have made extraordinary achievements.

In addition to painstaking devotion to Gree, Dong has also been playing a role in public charity causes. She donated all the proceeds from her last two books to the building of a primary school.

Under her influence, Gree has shown a strong sense of corporate social responsibility and contributed money and other living necessities totaling over 100 million yuan (U.S. $15.68 million) to underprivileged people in China over the past two decades.

While most people admire Dong for reaching the apex of her career, she feels herself always on the road ahead, for "when you stand atop the peak, there are still the sky and stars above," she said.

(Source:, and edited by Women of China)

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