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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 15:07, April 19, 2005
China's first foreign factory director - Grisch
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Bronze statues of Mr. Grisch, China's first foreign factory director and former director of the Wuhan Diesel Engine Plant, were recently erected at the City Industrial Park in Wuhan. One of the two statues will be donated to Wuhan's sister city in Germany - Duisburg.

Born in 1920 Mr. Grisch assumed the post of director at the Wuhan Diesel Engine Plant from November 1984 to November 1986. As the first foreign director hired by a state-owned enterprise Grisch was fortunate to stand at the forefront of China's reform of opening up and was once the wind vane for international observers of China's reform and opening up.

On April 17, 2003 Mr. Grisch passed away in Germany at the age of 83.

Mr. Quality

Mr. Grisch has gone, leaving behind much for us to miss. "After retirement the whole family thought he would begin to lead a normal and leisurely life. However, an easy and carefree life still seemed too early for him.", recalled Mr. Grisch's son.

The German Senior Expert Service (SES) was founded in 1983. Mr. Grisch, who hoped to dedicate his experience and knowledge accumulated during his career for free, came to Wuhan among the first group of personnel that the SES sent overseas. His role was a technical adviser at the Wuhan Diesel Engine Plant. To everybody's surprise it was this devoted elder who caused such a great disturbance at the early stage of the reform that the "Grisch effect" was even name after him.

Former Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji once called him cordially "Mr. Quality". In his mind quality is the life of a product. According to people who once worked side by side with him Grisch always brought with him "three treasures" - a pair of white gloves, a small flashlight and a piece of pen-like magnet. The gloves were used to check if a product was clean enough. The flashlight was used to examine the interior of a product while the magnet was used to find out if there were iron residues in a finished product. The first Chinese phrase he learned was "mamahuhu" (careless or casual) - the work attitude he saw in employees at the Wuhan Diesel Engine. It was because of this that Grisch took up the hatchet and opened a fight against long-standing bad habits at the Wuhan Diesel Engine. He established a series of regulations and rules and was very strict on every detail. "There were even specific provisions on the different positions of machines when it was windy and when it was not.", said Grisch's first interpreter Yu Weihao.

During the two years when he worked at the Wuhan Diesel Engine, Grisch was always the first to be at work and the last to leave. He also wrote a 400,000-word report during spare time putting forward a hundred suggestions. His efforts had not been in vain. The eligibility rate of spare parts produced at the Wuhan Diesel Engine was raised from 85 percent to 92 percent. Rate of waste foundry products was reduced from 33 percent to 5 percent. In 1985 Diesel Engine195 was granted the title of "national best". In the year of 1986 diesel engines manufactured at the Wuhan Diesel engine began to export to seven countries in Southeast Asia.

"Grisch effect"

Mr. Grisch's contribution was not limited to driving the development of the Wuhan Diesel Engine. More important was the changes he brought about to people's way of thinking.

"Grisch was a kind of symbol. Before him the talents we had introduced were concentrated in the specialized technical areas. After him we began to actively attract managerial personnel.", said the director of the economy and technology department of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs. As the first foreign factory director in China Grisch's success soon gave rise to a surge in introducing overseas managerial personnel and the phenomenon was referred to as "Grisch effect". Since Grisch Wuhan has imported three foreign factory directors. All of them made rather good achievements. The talent import work in Wuhan and even the country as a whole sped up pace. Foreign experts working in Wuhan have now reached a total of 24,000 person times. In 2004 China imported foreign experts for about 400,000 person times.

After the expiration of his tenure two years later Grisch left the Wuhan Diesel Engine. The peak of the Wuhan Diesel Engine's development lasted two more years after his leaving. In 1998 the Wuhan Diesel Engine officially stopped production. The Wuhan Diesel Engine has become history following his departure. Nevertheless, the historical contributions to Chinese state-owned enterprises made by Grisch will always be remembered by Chinese people.

By People's Daily Online

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