Knowing All about Hunan

Netting profit in successful new way

Updated:2020-06-04 16:52:47

CHANGSHA-Desperate for new ways to beat cabin fever amid the COVID-19 quarantine, a decades-old fishing net producer based in Central China saw an opportunity to provide products that provide "healthy" entertainment.

Soccer nets, tennis nets, volleyball nets, lacrosse nets, baseball hoops, softball batting cages, swings and trampolines fill up its fourth-floor exhibition hall.

These portable sports nets and stadium facilities were designed and manufactured by Hunan Xinhai Co, a company traditionally known as a reliable net supplier for fishermen at the nearby Dongting Lake, China's second-largest freshwater lake.

Born and raised in a traditional fishing town along Dongting Lake, 67-year-old Liu Fangjun, the company's chairman, is an aspiring fisherman-turned-entrepreneur whose netting career started at a shabby mill in 1977.

Through the years his company has survived and built a good reputation.

Its greatest challenge arrived with the start of a 10-year fishing moratorium that came into force in January on key areas of the Yangtze River-including Dongting Lake and Poyang Lake-in bid to protect biodiversity.

Beyond the lakes and river, however, Liu's focus turned toward the sea, where he saw demand for high-strength, lightweight marine fishing nets.

However, it was the second, cognitive, transformation that really helped propel the company to new heights.

"Fishing nets are in essence 'nets and twine', which are by no means limited to fishing," Liu Yang, Liu Fangjun's son and general manager of the company, says. "Nets, twine and thread are found everywhere, from cardiac stents and mask stitches to marine cables and optical fibers."

After rebranding itself as more than a fishing net producer, Xinhai makes products for agriculture, industrial production, daily use and sports.

Boasting more than 20 patents and an expected sales revenue surpassing 100 million yuan ($14.07 million) this year, Xinhai continues to invest heavily in R&D and is taking on more social responsibility by employing an increasingly large number of lakeside residents and members of impoverished households.