Interview: Mr Liu Yunhui
MR LIU YUNHUI
Founder and CEO of GTD Lighting
“My priority is to come up with a strategic plan to cope with the changing environment, and adjust it in accordance with new situations.”
Tell our readers a bit about your history and how you first got into the lighting industry?
In the early stage of my career, I worked at TCL for a long time. It’s the third-largest television and home appliance manufacturer in the world. I worked my way up from a technician to the Vice President of TCL Communication Technology Holdings Limited, Senior Manager of Reform and Innovation Center of TCL Group, Member of TCL Brand Management Committee, and General Manager of TCL Cultural company. Later, I studied for an MBA course at Liverpool University and graduated with a Masters degree. I learnt and benefited a lot from the years of strategy-making and operation experience I gained at TCL.
When and how did GTD begin?
Guangzhou has long been the cradle and centre of lighting manufacturers in China. Over 70% of lighting fixtures in the world are manufactured in Guangzhou. The year 2012 was a turning point in my career and my life. I saw an opportunity - gathered a group of friends and former colleagues and founded GTD.
What makes GTD different from other lighting manufacturers?
We are the first company in the professional stage lighting industry in China, to introduce a stock incentive plan. It allows GTD to share ownership with our employees, and aligns the interests of the employees with those of the company. I value talent, and I understand how important a positive working environment is to keep employees
happy, and ensure they are productive. I spend a lot of time selecting senior management personnel, and building a corporate culture that values the spirit of entrepreneurship, innovation, dedication, credibility, team spirit and merit-based selection. For example, the Marketing Director, He Dayuan, used to work for the Alibaba Group, which provided him with a good platform and a promising career development prospect. In order to get him onboard, I held the position open for him for more than six months, and offered him stock shares to show my sincerity. He now plays a vital role within GTD. The number of shareholders has increased from 14 to 59, I now own less than 20% of GTD shares, and some of the employees even have higher salaries than mine. It doesn’t matter, what matters to me the most is to keep them contributing
to the development of GTD. I believe he who wins people wins the future.
Have you always been CEO of GTD or did you work in other roles within the company previously?
I’m the founder and CEO of GTD. The company is like my child. I have witnessed its growth, its ups and downs, and I’m looking forward to seeing it getting bigger and stronger.
Can you describe your day-to-day duties at GTD?
I mainly focus on strategy. The competition is getting more and more fierce, each year. My priority is to come up with a strategic plan to cope with the changing environment, and adjust it in accordance with new situations. Solving major operational problems is another of my daily tasks.
What have been the major milestones for GTD so far? Do you have a standout project or product?
Every year, GTD had made remarkable achievements. Soon after the company was founded, our product, the 230 Beam was used for a famous TV programme, ‘I’m a Singer’, a singing contest similar to The Voice. It was a tough battle, we competed with over 10 domestic and foreign lighting brands, but we won the project. Thanks to this programme, we entered the market rapidly, and our products gained a good reputation, so much so, that they were then used for a number of events both domestically and internationally. The events included the G20 Summit Performance, Belt and Road Forum Performance, Nikulin Circus and the LA Global Theatre. In 2018, we created another brand TUNGDOU for the rental market. TD-LMZ 3019 is our best seller. Our customers continue to be impressed with its rich effects. It is a super bright LED wash luminaire, using 19 30W LEDs and an efficient 14:1 zoom optical system. The narrow 3° beam can make a smooth transformation into a wide 42° wash output. The fixture has a rich colour spectrum and can create a charming washlight effect with a smooth transition, thanks to internal 16-bit LED dimming system. It is fitted with fast-spin motors, which utilise our popular super speedy software, driving technique. The TD-371 BSW is our new product that was released during this year’s, The GET Show. It drew customer attention immediately. TD-371 BSW is a multifunctional moving head that combines beam, spot and wash capabilities. Its
features include sharp, crisp optics with a powerful wide zoom range from 60º-3º. The fixture can also produce a range of complex and precise mid-air effects through an independent eight-facet flat prism.
How has the business grown over the years, what are the most significant changes?
GTD has grown rapidly in just seven years. It took us only three years to become number one in China. My secrets are the innovations in our sales model and the user experience we are able to deliver. Distributorship was the only sales model for many years in China, but I decided to do direct sales. Some say it was a bold decision, but I was confident. Now, GTD has over 70 sales and service centres, covering all provincial and prefecturelevel cities in China.
Products and service are the most important reflectors of a company’s strength. By setting up a service network, we are able to respond to customer needs within a short space of time. Service was undervalued in this industry, it was free of charge but unsatisfying, and we wanted to change that. We came up with a supplementary maintenance service for parts that are excluded from warranty, or when the warranty has expired. User experience and satisfaction have improved enormously, thanks to this policy. It also helped us to establish deals with two of our most important strategic partners, Songcheng Group and Huaxia Group (cultural groups in China that own a large quantity of theatres and entertainment resorts). Gradually, the whole industry in China has started to realise the significance of after-sales service and support.
How much of the business is local and how much is export?
We are number one in terms of sales in China. Our export volume is relatively small compared to that in domestic market.
What is your plan for the international market?
We are looking for distributors worldwide, aiming to expand our overseas market share in the next few years. We provide a full support package including annual rebate, market support, spare parts support, design support, exhibition support and sample support, to make sure that our partners have an abundance of resources to promote GTD products in their local markets. I’m positive that there is great growth potential for GTD and our partners.
Geographically, are there any markets you would like GTD to be more prominent in?
We have been working with South American dealers for a long time. This year we paid a visit to Mexico City, and it was a productive trip. We will continue to focus on exploring opportunities in this area. We also have several large projects going on in South East Asia, and another market is the Middle East, where we have setup a subsidiary.
Does GTD have any major plans for the future? What can you tell our readers?
GTD is very stable in terms of R&D, quality control, cost control, management and sales, so I do have to start thinking about our next step. I remember when I was at TCL, the Chairman, Li Dongsheng used to say, ‘a big enterprise might not be a strong one, but a small enterprise is definitely not a strong one’. I couldn’t agree more. But the question is… how? Diversity is my answer. Recently, the Chinese Government has released a series of policies to promote cultural development. The prosperity and continual increasing needs of the entertainment market is driving technology forward. I notice the great potential that lies in creative projects. At the end of 2018, we brought in a production team that has years of experience in design and schematisation, having worked with Ms. Wang Chaoge, a famous director who has produced a series of popular performances. As the manufacturer, we were unable to get involved in the process of art creation, but the acquisition of the design team enables GTD to enter the cultural and creative element of the industry. We can now provide a full package to our
customers from design, programming, product supply, installation and maintenance.
Where do you see yourself and GTD as a company in five years time?
To make GTD bigger and stronger has always been my goal. Now, we have two business segments, the first focussed on technology, meaning we will continue to manufacture innovative products including luminaires, truss, telescopic bleachers and platforms, as well as improve service. The other focus is on culture, and will allow us to be more involved in creative projects. Also, our new building - GTD Centre - is under construction, and we be working in a brand-new office five years from now.
What do you like to do when you’re not working at GTD?
I like fishing and skiing. When I was a
child, I would catch fish in the Summer with my brothers and sisters. The water was so clear, so finding the fish wasn’t a problem, but catching them wasn’t as easy as it looked! You need to be patient and let the fish get used to you being around, and when you set the target, you need to be very fast and accurate. I was one of the best at catching fish in my village. Fishing always reminds me of happy and simple times. Skiing is a sport I got into recently, I love the feeling of sliding down a hill - it makes me feel refreshed.
Do you have a motto for life?
I believe that whoever understands ‘Dao’ can go far. ‘Dao’ in Chinese has multiple meanings. It can refer to the law of development, the way of working, and most importantly, the truth of life. I created our Chinese logo, based on it to remind myself, and I inform others about the wisdom behind it, too.