Cayman Islands, Caribbeanand International News
Monday, May 20, 2024

Meet the richest person in Taiwan, who built an $11.7 billion fortune by making shoes for brands like Nike and Vans — and started it all on a pig farm

Meet the richest person in Taiwan, who built an $11.7 billion fortune by making shoes for brands like Nike and Vans — and started it all on a pig farm

Zhang started his first shoe business on a pig farm next to paddy fields in Taiwan. Today, the founder of Huali makes shoes for Nike and Vans.

He started his first shoe business on a pig farm. Today, Zhang Congyuan is Taiwan's richest person, and he's built his $11.7 billion fortune making sneakers for some of the world's biggest brands.

The 74-year-old is also the richest self-made newcomer on this year's Forbes' World Billionaires list, an annual ranking of the wealthiest people in the world.

As founder of Huali Industrial Group, Zhang's firm produces shoes for brands such as Nike, Ugg, and Vans. Huali churns out more than 180 million pairs of shoes a year, according to Bloomberg.

For all of his success, he maintains a low profile, rarely giving interviews or appearing at public events. Taiwanese media calls him the "mysterious shoe king."

Humble beginnings

Born into a farming family in the Taiwanese countryside of Yunlin, Zhang worked in a women's shoe factory after graduating from an agricultural college, according to Taiwan's Business Weekly.

He eventually saved up enough money to start his own shoe factory in the 1980s — although he had his limitations.

"I had no money at home, so I had to live within my means. People buy good plots of land to build new buildings, I got a pig farm and a farmhouse in the countryside," he told the magazine in a rare interview last year.

Housed next to paddy fields in western Taiwan, the pig farm produced quality shoes despite its shabby exteriors, the magazine reported, citing Chiang Wei-lun, an executive of shoe box firm Goodbox.

"Zhang spent money on good materials, and his equipment was never inferior to other people," Chiang said.

By the late 1980s, Zhang had set up several other footwear ventures across Taiwan and in China's southern province of Guangdong. The competition was rife: Guangdong is known as "the world's factory," where everything from handbags and shoes to Christmas decorations is made for export.

But Zhang saw an opportunity to set himself apart, Business Weekly reported. That opportunity was vulcanized shoes — the type of shoes popular with skateboarders for their gummy, pliable rubber soles. Even though vulcanized shoes are cheap to produce, the style was not popular with shoemakers at the time because it was unfashionable and signaled low profits.

"Other people in the industry gave up on them, but I just wanted to focus on achieving good quality (shoes)," Zhang told the magazine.

When these shoes started becoming trendy in the 1990s, Zhang already had a headstart and was able to produce them for the likes of Vans and Converse. Converse filed for bankruptcy in 2001, but Zhang maintained relations with the brand, the magazine said. Two years later, when Nike acquired Converse, it was on Converse's recommendation that Nike work with Zhang.

Zhang officially set up Huali Industrial in 2004, and today, it has factories in China, Vietnam, and Dominica.

Asked about his secret to success, he told Business Weekly that "there is no mystery."

"To get to the bottom of it, it's only about whether you have the determination to do better than others," he said.

Insider reached out to Zhang for comment through Huali Group but did not immediately receive a response.


Related Articles

Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Israel: Unprecedented Civil Disobedience Looms as IDF Reservists Protest Judiciary Reform
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
Europe is boiling: Extreme Weather Conditions Prevail Across the Continent
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Italian Court's Controversial Ruling on Sexual Harassment Ignites Uproar
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.
BBC Personalities Rebuke Accusations Amidst Scandal Involving Teen Exploitation
A Swift Disappointment: Why Is Taylor Swift Bypassing Canada on Her Global Tour?
Historic Moment: Edgars Rinkevics, EU's First Openly Gay Head of State, Takes Office as Latvia's President
Bye bye democracy, human rights, freedom: French Cops Can Now Secretly Activate Phone Cameras, Microphones And GPS To Spy On Citizens
The Poor Man With Money, Mark Zuckerberg, Unveils Twitter Replica with Heavy-Handed Censorship: A New Low in Innovation?
Unilever Plummets in a $2.5 Billion Free Fall, to begin with: A Reckoning for Misuse of Corporate Power Against National Interest
Beyond the Blame Game: The Need for Nuanced Perspectives on America's Complex Reality
Twitter Targets Meta: A Tangle of Trade Secrets and Copycat Culture
The Double-Edged Sword of AI: AI is linked to layoffs in industry that created it
US Sanctions on China's Chip Industry Backfire, Prompting Self-Inflicted Blowback
Meta Copy Twitter with New App, Threads
The New French Revolution
BlackRock Bitcoin ETF Application Refiled, Naming Coinbase as ‘Surveillance-Sharing’ Partner