CHINESE TRAILBLAZERS TAISHAN POWER THE SPORTS INDUSTRY
Read about the fascinating journey of Chinese powerhouse sports manufacturer Taishan who opened in 1978 by sewing judo mats
Taishan Group designs tatami for the IJF competitions
IJF Representatives together with a Sportaccord delegation recently had the opportunity to visit and discover the Taishan Sports Industry Group, which is one of the main sponsors of the International Judo Federation. Located in the city of Laoling in the Shandong Province, 350 km from Beijing, China, the Taishan Group widely opened its doors and sat down for a candid interview with the IJF Media department.
Mr. Bian Zhiliang, founder and chairman of the Taishan Group, corporate partner of SportAccord and of the IJF, warmly welcomed all the delegates and gave them an extensive tour of the facilities.
Delegation of international federations visit the Taishan Group
Mr. Bian started the early days of Taishan by sewing judo mats with his wife. Thirty years later the group now employs several thousands of people and occupies four important factories all regrouped in Laoling as Mr. Bian Zhiliang explains. “Nowadays, the Taishan brand has gone into the dream place of all those who are engaged in the field of sports,” said Mr. Bian. “The presence of our international friends is very important for us and we want to participate in the development of sport together with the Olympic and non-Olympic sports and under the guidance of a great leader, IJF and Sportaccord President Mr. Marius L. Vizer.”
The IJF and its President, Mr. Marius Vizer honored by the Taishan Group
The Taishan Sports Industry Group, which already provided equipment for major international sporting events such as the Beijing Olympics in 2008, is a professional diversified enterprise with a dedicated focus on the sports industry. The Taishan Group, which is still specialized in building martial art mats, also produces professional equipment in cycling, artificial turf, fitness, composite and polymer materials, leisure sports, electronic sports, internet operations and many other related industry fields.
During the two-day visit, the delegation took part in an open door tour and had the possibility to discover the Taishan ‘empire’, an empire built by one single man and today made out of teamwork and commitment and proposing high technology products, all controlled and certified in-house within the research and development center that was also visited by the invitees.
The adventure of the Taishan Group started in 1978
All international delegates were particularly impressed by the Sports Museum located in the main building. Beside the history of the company presented throughout a gallery of portraits showing the important moments of the development process of the Group, Taishan gathered an outstanding collection of objects related to the sports world. All sports fans would be delighted to visit such an attraction.
Interview of Mr. Cui Gang, Taishan Sports Industry Group Executive Director
Could you please explain what is the history of Taishan?
In 1978, Mr. Bian Zhiliang took the first steps by sewing the first Judo mats with his wife. At that time, they had no employees, no machine, no factory, and all the judo mats were hand-made by them. In 1989, the Pan-Pacific Judo Championships was held in Beijing, China and for the first time, the judo mats made by Mr.Bian were used on the international scene. The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games represented a milestone for Taishan as the company supplied sports equipment for eight events becoming the biggest supplier in the Olympic history. Afterwards, Taishan provided its premier equipment and services to several Games, such as the 2014 Asian Games, the Gymnastic World Championships, the Youth Olympic Games and of course the World Judo Tour events… Today the Taishan Group is transforming from a traditional sports equipment manufacturer into a world premier event service supplier.
Mr. Cui Gang (left) together with Mr. Bian Zhiliang (right)
Could you describe the Taishan Group: number of employees, products, countries you are present in…?
Today Taishan counts more than 5,000 employees. Its products include equipment for gymnastics, athletics, judo, wrestling, taekwondo, boxing, wushu; artificial turf, fitness equipment, kid mats, carbon-fiber, bicycle… Taishan is present in Asia, Mid-east, Africa, North America, Europe, in total in more than 100 countries.
Why did you get involved in Judo?
Judo, as a sport, is a modern oriental martial art. Personally speaking, Mr.Bian, our founder and chairman, is fond of judo and he has his own understanding of the judo spirit. ‘Maximum efficiency for the minimum effort’ and ‘mutual benefit’ represent his philosophy in business as well. Respect is the fundamental element every Taishan people should have. Softness beats hardness. Mr. Bian appreciates thejJudo spirit very much. The second reason is that Mr.Bian appreciates the IJF and SportAccord President, Mr. Marius Vizer, and he cherishes their friendship. That is why Taishan puts the most efforts on the research and improvement of Judo mat.
The Taishan Group Museum
Could you give more details about the judo values that you feel are totally compatible with your business philosophy?
First of all, fairness. It is the basic of sports and business. Secondly, mutual benefit. There is no permanent opponent whether in sport or in business. Taishan pursues win-win relationships with both partners and “opponents”. Thirdly, in judo, if one wants to win, he has to improve himself all the time. It is like Taishan, we focus on the quality of our products and service and we keep improving. Last but not least, judo people respect the sport, respect the coach, respect the opponent. I always tell my people: before doing things, you should cultivate your morals, be a respectful person, make the products people like, then Taishan will be a respectable brand and company.
What does judo represent compared to the other fields of activity of Taishan?
Firstly, judo is linked with the first sports equipment we ever produced, the Taishan judo mats. So Taishan really has a special bond with judo. If Taishan would be a house, then judo must be the base. Secondly, I can say that the relationship between judo and the Taishan Group is more spiritual than physical.
How are you involved with the IJF today and what do you foresee for the future?
As a manufacturer, our core work is to produce quality equipment to ensure the success of the competitions theme under the IJF hospices, and we are keeping researching and improving our products to enhance the comfort and to protect judoka from injury. And soon, we will simultaneously work on children’s judo equipment to popularize this sports among the youth.
You are present on the international circuit (World Judo Tour). Would you also be interested to be involved in educational development activities? And How?
As I just said, Taishan would like to work together with the IJF to promote judo and to popularize this games among the mass. It will be a great honor if the IJF would like to establish a research center with Taishan. Thus we could work on high-quality and low-cost, easily-installing equipment to bring this sport to as many people as possible. Taishan and the IJF could work together to found Judo clubs in schools and public places.
Today Chinese Judo as a great potential in terms of sports results, as well as in terms of development (grassroots level - judo for children). But judo is still lacking a bit of recognition in China. What do you think would be helpful to support judo in China?
I think children represent the potential group to practice judo. The most effective way to promote judo among children is to educate them and their parents at school. Like what I suggested, to found clubs in schools because this is the only place where children and their parents can be gathered together to let them understand that judo is not just good for the body, but good for the moral and personality shaping as well.
The Qingdao Grand Prix has become a major event on the international scene. How do you analyze this success? How can such an event help the development of judo in China and worldwide?
Under the umbrella of the IJF and the Chinese Judo Association, with no doubt the Qingdao Grand Prix has become a success. But I think that more media should get involved so other cities in China and even in the rest of the world will know the Grand Prix and help to promote it at a higher level. Currently, the Taishan Group support the event by providing judo mats. But we are looking for more approaches to support the Grand Prix.