Zong Qinghou, chairman of China's leading beverage maker Hangzhou Wahaha Group, gives an interview in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province on Aug 24, 2016. [Photo/VCG]
Zong Qinghou, born in 1945, is the founder and chairman of China's largest beverage maker Hangzhou Wahaha Group.
Zong's personal assets topped the 2010 Hurun China Rich List, a widely accepted ranking of the wealthiest individuals in China. He then maintained a top 5 ranking on the list until its 2016 version.
On the latest Hurun China Rich List, published in October 2020, Zong was ranked 36th, with his wealth being valued at 105 billion yuan ($16 billion), the 140th highest on the Hurun Global Rich List, a ranking of the world's billionaires.
Headquartered in the Zhejiang provincial capital of Hangzhou, Wahaha currently runs 80 production bases and some 180 subsidiaries scattered in 29 Chinese provincial-level regions, employing nearly 30,000 workers. It has been a beverage industry leader in China for 20 consecutive years, with its operating revenue standing at 46.44 billion yuan in 2019.
Wahaha has more than 200 varieties of products falling into a dozen categories, including bottled water, carbonate beverages, tea, fruit and vegetable juices, coffee, herbal drinks, functional beverage, canned food, dairy products, as well as health foods.
It not only conducts research and development of beverages and food, but also independently designs and produces smart equipment, as well as industrial robots to be applied in the streamlining of their production processes.
Zong Qinghou is a descendant of Zong Ze (1060-1128), a respected politician and military general who heroically battled against invaders during the late Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). A self-made billionaire, Zong Qinghou was born and raised in an underprivileged family in Hangzhou and started to work at a State-owned farm upon graduation from a junior high school.
Zong's business empire traces its origin to the sales department of a small factory in Hangzhou's Shangcheng district, which Zong acquired in 1987 with 140,000 yuan he borrowed. To make profits, Zong often rode tricycles along Hangzhou streets and peddled ice-cream to passersby.
In 1989, the then 44-year-old Zong finally registered Wahaha Nutritional Food Plant. In 1996, Wahaha entered the bottled drinking water market, which laid the foundation for its later rise.