Love of machines

Updated: 2016-02-19 09:40

By Zhang Li and Liu Xiangrui(China Daily)

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Love of machines

US engineer David Beatenbough introduces the "wall of history" at the Liuzhou-based LiuGong Machinery Corp. On display are photos of the company's products, revealing the development and ambition of the company.[Photo by Huo Yan/ China Daily]

American engineer reluctantly takes up a job at a Chinese company and is happily surprised, report Zhang Li in Nanning and Liu Xiangrui in Beijing.

David Beatenbough, a 58-year-old mechanical engineer from the United States, didn't expect to join a Chinese company in its bid to go global.

In fact, it took him a while to decide that he wanted to work for Liuzhou-based LiuGong Machinery Corp in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. He met Zeng Guang'an, president of the State-owned enterprise, two years after he began to work for an international machinery company in Shanghai in 2001.

Beatenbough has a degree in mechanical engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology.

Impressed by his background and insights into the global market, Zeng invited him to join LiuGong, but Beatenbough wasn't sure about joining a Chinese company. Zeng's persistence finally persuaded him to change his mind.

"The management group here is smaller than my former employer's, so we can make decisions and move faster," Beatenbough tells China Daily.

LiuGong was looking to expand globally when he joined it in 2007.

But Beatenbough, realizing that the company was mainly a maker of wheel rollers, found the challenge greater than he had expected.

"We needed to expand the product line to attract quality dealers in the international market," he adds.

Beatenbough helped the company form the LiuGong Development Process, a system based on teamwork for new products.

The model, still used by the company, managed to improve the success rate of such projects and shortened the launch time of new products.

"It forces our engineers to look at what our customers really need and want," he says.

The company's D series excavators, developed by following that model, won the company immediate attention in the market following their launch in 2010.

The model has contributed to the company's growth in the past few years, helping it enrich its product line and turning it into a full-scale manufacturer of construction equipment that makes wheel loaders, skid steer loaders, motor graders and excavators.

But Beatenbough wasn't satisfied with just developing new products for the company as he thought most wheel loaders made in China looked the same no matter which company they came from. Then, he tried to build a brand for LiuGong, with methods including the distinctive use of industrial designs so people could recognize its machines easily.

He also played a leading role in establishing the LiuGong Global R&D Center that opened last year. So far, it is the only unit of its kind for earthmovers in China.

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