Haier invests in South Carolina

Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on April 12, 2006

If ever a Chinese company needed a new brand, it’s white-goods and consumer-electronics maker Haier. The company is a success story, with its refrigerators and washing machines and TVs selling well in China and, increasingly, in the U.S. and other foreign countries. But what sort of a name is Haier? Other Chinese companies have come up with good brands to use when marketing overseas: Think about Lenovo, the PC maker, and TCL, the TV company. In Chinese, the name Haier doesn’t do much: The first character is “sea” and the second is just a sort of an empty stand-in, a character that the Chinese use when phonetically writing foreign words. But at least a Chinese person knows how to say the name. For a native English speaker without a clue about how you have to split the name up in two (“hi” and “are”) those three vowels all in row can render the word unpronounceable.

Haier’s unfortunate name has bothered me for a long time.(I know, I need to get out more.) Yet Haier has managed to push ahead with its overseas expansion, despite the fact that its brand doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Haier has a nice American HQ in New York and a plant in South Carolina. The company is in the news today thanks to a visit to South Carolina by Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi. She’s now on a tour of the U.S., announcing plans for Chinese companies to buy American. According to this report in the South Carolina newspaper The State, Wu says that Haier plans to invest $150 million at its South Carolina factory and hire another 1,000 workers there, in addition to the 200 people already employed there.

The timing is obviously part of a campaign to defuse anti-China tension in the U.S. ahead of President Hu Jintao’s trip to Washington at the end of the month. And South Carolina industries – textiles and furniture, to name two – have been hit hard by competition from low-cost rivals in China. So who knows if this Haier announcement will do much to win friends in South Carolina. But with investment numbers like the ones Haier has announced, chances are good that South Carolina will be one place where people won’t have a problem with Haier’s name.

Reader Comments

Nelson Chung

April 25, 2006 9:34 AM

I would imagine Americans would just pronounce it "hair."

China Law Blog

May 8, 2006 3:30 PM

I agree with you. I think Haier needs to hire some U.S. marketing people to go along with their factory hires. But they probably won't because few Chinese companies recognize the value in services.

vickt

May 16, 2006 3:35 PM

I've heard is pronounced more like "hire" or "higher"

Carmen Electralon

August 7, 2006 5:25 PM

Haier in Camden, Southcarolina ; if i were you i would never buy a fridge from there because they half put the product together and most of the products come back to the plant because they have some kind of defect. Trust me I KNOW>>>>> Dont ever buy a HAIER brand anything Unless it is from China.Unless the BOX READS CHINA, The Camden Plant Makes GARBAGE!!!!!!!!!! G-A-R-B-A-G-E

Subi

August 19, 2006 5:34 PM

Did anyone ever think about the reasons China wants a company here in the USA? China can produce refrigs cheaper in China & ship them here for much much less money than making them here. And quality control here? In China if an assembly worker makes a mistake then he is penalized by having $$ taken from his salary. Interesting incentive for better products.

Andy Durey

August 28, 2006 5:37 PM

Why is Haier traded on the pink sheets?

yanni

July 27, 2008 4:41 PM

I guess Haier should be called as Higher or Hire.
Anyone or do you know anyone is using Haier's Washer. I need an apartment size Washer.

Eileen

August 22, 2008 1:13 PM

Regarless of how it is pronounced it is trouble. It might be very appropriate to understand that regardless of what this company is to be called they are not going to be paying what Americans want to be paid and it again offers another opportunity for China (who let us NEVER forget) is still under Communism to get a strong foot-hold in the United States. When will we wake up and understand they are out to bury us? They out number us in head count already... Why do we not wake up and smell the tea?

Kim

November 30, 2009 2:33 PM

I have a Haier AC unit and it is positively the WORST EVER!!!!! Nothing but trouble. Brand new unit in a brancd new house! AWFUL AWFUL AWFUL!! I can't say enough bad things about them!

C. H. Ng

December 1, 2009 12:50 AM

"Haier" is pronounced as hai..er. It's a famous brand in China. I won't say they are the best nor their products very good but at the prices they are selling, quite worth it as compared to other international brands.

AS for Ms Eileen, I just can't understand your mentality. On one hand people want job opportunity & for any foreign company to invest or open factories in your country, it means more jobs created. But on the other hand, you worried about communism. No doubt China is a Communist country but only in terms of their government, not the majority of her people who believe more on capitalism.
Have you ever been to there? I bet you never. One thing for sure & I would like to put it in a very simple way...in present day China, no money no talk. Understand my simple English?

fry

August 14, 2010 1:51 AM

Most of us Americans pronounce it "hayer" not hair, like bayer, as in Bayer asprin. As for "hi are" that sounds likeyou forgot the how in "hi, how are you". Get it right, will ya!

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