1. What’s your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Choose your team carefully, and be good to your team. Without a good team, you cannot build a successful business and cannot transform yourself from a good soldier to a captain with a wide, far-reaching vision.
Find what you love and do it. Surround yourself with good, smart and hard-working people. I think that building a good team is the most important part of my job. It’s not just their skill set, but also their work ethic, their passion and how well we mesh together.
2. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
My dad always tells me you can only give up when you have tried your best and have nothing to regret. My experience says there is no such thing as “try your best.” In this world, most circumstances are just excuses, so it is important to not give up when you set your goals after careful evaluation.
Good fortune tends to come to those who are prepared to receive it. I believe in a fine balance between controlling our destiny and having faith in our path. I’m a firm believer in that.
3. What does success mean to you?
Making great stuff, letting users enjoy that stuff and giving them that amazing “wow” moment.
Achieving what we set out to do: brand recognition around the world, good returns to our investors, a loyal and satisfied customer base who trusts us, and financial rewards for all the employees who put their hearts and souls into building this company.
4. What inspired you to launch Hestan/Cangshan Cutlery?
When I was still running my commercial kitchenware supply business, one of my best clients (actually we were becoming very close friends after 10+ years doing business together) asked me if I could make good-quality knives for extreme commercial kitchen use. I said yes we could, but my team and I audited over 80 manufacturers, and we failed to find anyone who could meet this goal. All these factories, whatever size they were, were all commodity-level manufacturers and could not match our standards. It is not my style to quit and just apologize to a client, so we kept looking, and when we finally located a good manufacturer, I immediately invested in a joint venture with them and put most of my energy into building high-quality knives. This is how Cangshan Cutlery was born.
I’ve been working in the residential and commercial appliance industries for almost the entirety of my career, but always for big, established brands. The opportunity to start something of my own from the ground up, from absolutely nothing, to be able to define every little detail of the products and business operations, was the chance of a lifetime. To be able to build the team from top to bottom and define the culture of an organization is very exciting to me. I feel confident in my knowledge of the other brands in this space. And I feel that, as a team, we know what the industry needs and how to go about meeting these needs for our customers.