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Haier invests in South Carolina


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April 12, 2006

Haier invests in South Carolina

Bruce Einhorn

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.

02:03 AM

Consumer Electronics

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

Posted by: Nelson Chung at April 25, 2006 09:34 AM

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.

Posted by: China Law Blog at May 8, 2006 03:30 PM

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

Posted by: vickt at May 16, 2006 03:35 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

Posted by: Carmen Electralon at August 7, 2006 05:25 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.

Posted by: Subi at August 19, 2006 05:34 PM

Why is Haier traded on the pink sheets?

Posted by: Andy Durey at August 28, 2006 05:37 PM


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