Liu Hanyuan was born in Sichuan province in 1964, where he graduated from the Fisheries Vocational School. Today, he’s worth Rmb7 billion but his first job with the Lianghekou Reservoir Fishery saw him earn a monthly salary of Rmb41 ($6).
In the early 1980s fish were expensive and a luxury for most inland Chinese. But Liu invented a large metal cage which could be used to farm fish. From an initial 185kg of carp, he bred a record 1,390kg catch in his cage. But he realised that others would soon copy his design and he’d not profit from it. Instead, he realised that his experiences would spawn a wider industry of fish farmers. What they would need was feed for their fish.
Satisfying a hunger
In 1986 Liu built a fish feed factory in his hometown of Yongshou. Still only 22 and with no formal degree in mechanical engineering or design, the self-taught entrepreneur nevertheless oversaw the construction and installation of a plant with an annual feed output of 5,000 tonnes. In 1992 his Tongwei Feedworks relocated to Meishan. Investing Rmb10 million of his own funds, he built a new factory with an annual output of 100,000 tonnes. He also opened research and development facilities, looking to expand into pig feed and pet food.
Need to know
Liu’s story is one of ever-increasing scale. In 2000 he opened a plant in Guangdong capable of an annual output of 500,000 tonnes. By 2003 he had 40 facilities and by 2009 his volumes had hit 5 million tonnes per year – making him the world’s largest aquatic feed producer.
His Care Pet Food had also taken a leading position in the domestic pet food market. He listed Tongwei in 2004, and last year saw sales hit Rmb10.3 billion. In May 2009 he opened one of Asia’s largest feed facilities in Vietnam, and is eyeing expansion into Africa.
In his own words
“There is nothing you cannot do, but only things you are reluctant to learn. If life forces you to learn, you can become expert.”
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