BACK ON TRACK: Dongfang employees repair the company rail line, which was badly damaged by the earthquake COURTESY OF DONGFANG TURBINE CO. LTD.
"An earthquake can crush us physically, but cannot prevent us from standing up again quickly," said He Xianfu, Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Committee of Dongfang Turbine Co. Ltd. in Deyang, only 30 km from the epicenter of the earthquake in Wenchuan. "We are breaking our backs to beat time and lower our losses."
The man of strong will also showed his soft side, adding, "Many of my colleagues were killed by this earthquake. I cannot help crying whenever I talk about them." He sighed deeply, trying hard to hold back tears.
The 8.0-magnitude earthquake on May 12 dealt a severe blow to the company, a power generator producer founded in 1965, which has more than 10,000 employees and an annual production value of over 10 billion yuan ($1.4 billion).
According to the latest statistics of the company, over 600 employees and their families died in the earthquake and more than 1,000 people were injured, 200 of them seriously; the homes of over 5,500 employees were destroyed; more than 1 million square meters of housing were wrecked; and in excess of 1,700 pieces of major production equipment were damaged. The total economic loss to the firm was almost 5 billion yuan ($714.3 million) while profit losses caused by the earthquake were around 2 billion yuan ($285.7 million).
The earthquake-induced damage to Dongfang has not only affected the employment and life of over 10,000 people, but will also exert a direct impact on China's power facilities market and even its economic growth in general. Getting Dongfang back to work quickly was of major concern to state leaders. Premier Wen Jiabao visited the company twice shortly after the earthquake.
Hanwang Township, one of the worst-hit places during the earthquake, is the location of Dongfang's headquarters and main production base. With the expansion of its business, the company had set up branches in other places, which saved it from being totally wiped out.
On May 17, the company's branch in Deyang reopened its production lines. "The intention is to show our clients that we are still producing and give them confidence in us," said Zhang Zhiying, General Manager of the company. All the management of the company shares such belief.
This strategy has worked well. Two days after production restarted, the company received a large booking for 134 wind power generators worth a total of 1.2 billion yuan ($171.4 million). This was the company's first booking since the earthquake. Although that day was the national mourning day for earthquake victims, people in Dongfang saw hope for the future.
On May 20, the first batch of wind power generator units produced by Dongfang since the earthquake was shipped out.