In 1968, with just $940 in his pocket, He Xiangjian convinced some twenty villagers from Beijiao, in the Guangdong province, to start up a bottle cap factory. More than half a century later, this same company has become what is likely the world’s largest manufacturer of household appliances. This is the story of Midea.

1968 to 1980: the Humble Beginnings of a Commercial Empire

Over the next dozen or so years, this Chinese small business grew and streamlined its operations. It gradually expanded its activities to manufacturing car parts and
electric fans, taking its first steps into the realm of small household appliances.

1981 to 2000: Midea Finds its Niche

The Midea trademark was registered in 1981, as was its first logo. A major milestone came in 1985 with the delivery of the company’s first residential air conditioner. To this day, these flagship products remain the cornerstone of the company’s success. Refrigerators, washing machines, and microwave ovens were also added to the growing lineup at this time. In 1993, the Midea Electric division was listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, one of China’s three stock exchanges.

2001 to 2020: Midea Teams Up with the Major Players

At the turn of the millennium, the manufacturer unveiled new products, including water dispensers and dishwashers. The company formed joint ventures with major Asian and American brands like Toshiba and Carrier to market its appliances in an ever-increasing number of new territories. In 2010, the company passed the mythical milestone of 100 billion yuan in annual sales, the equivalent of 18.8 billion Canadian dollars. Founder He Xiangjian stepped down from his position as chairman of the board in 2012, 44 years after starting his small business. Finally, in 2016, the group made three strategic acquisitions in a single year, including that of Toshiba’s household appliance division.

2021 to Now: the Giant Sets its Sights on the World

While best known for its air conditioners and dehumidifiers, Midea now manufactures a full range of refrigerators, freezers, washers and dryers, cookers, dishwashers, and microwave ovens. Its products are marketed under its own brand, yet it also acts as a subcontractor for well-known companies such as Whirlpool and Black+Decker. Midea bills itself as the world’s largest manufacturer of domestic appliances, a claim supported by its enviable position on the Fortune Global 500 index. The group now employs more than 166,000 people and has an annual turnover of over 70 billion Canadian dollars. It’s also the only Chinese manufacturer to have a near-perfect “A” credit rating from Standard & Poor’s. The manufacturer’s brand is increasingly present in Canadian stores. Thanks to economies of scale made possible by its massive operations, it can offer competitive value for a highly affordable price. It will certainly be a name to watch in the coming years.

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