Li Jianquan of Winner Medical: Starting from Cotton, Taking the Road of National Brand Innovation

From "finding a job for myself" to landing in the capital market, he insisted on winning with quality and deepening the health industry; from founding the "PurCotton" to building a national brand, he used cotton as a material to pave a path of development for Winner Medical. Instead of a "businessman", he prefers to be called an "entrepreneur". And creating value for the country and society has always been his original intention and pursuit of starting a business: He is Li Jianquan, the founder and chairman of Winner Medical.


From an entrepreneurial "veteran" to a capital "green hand", Li Jianquan said bluntly: "In the past year, I was busier, my work is more stressful, and I got more pressure." The only thing that remains unchanged is the three core principles of business that Li Jianquan sticks to quality prior to profit, brand prior to speed, and social value prior to corporate value.


"After listing, we have sufficient financing to advance strategic planning, accelerate R&D layout, expand talent introduction, and expand the market with the help of the capital market." In an interview, Li Jianquan shared with a reporter from Shanghai Securities News about the company's new changes in the past year since its listing.


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Ditch the stigma of "garbage products"


Li Jianquan belongs to a group of entrepreneurs in the early 1990s. However, when it comes to entrepreneurship, he uses words like "forced" and "reversed" to describe it. It turned out that before starting his own business, Li Jianquan worked in a state-owned enterprise in international trade for nearly 10 years. Later, Li Jianquan resigned and went to work in Zhuhai. He was unemployed because no one made medical dressings, and there was little profit in this industry.


"Just in October 1991, I was forced to start a business. I just wanted to find a job for myself." Li Jianquan told reporters that he had gone abroad to learn about the needs of the international market and firmly believed that there are promising market demands and prospects for medical dressings.


Therefore, Li Jianquan did not hesitate to set up his old business, but the difference this time is that he decided to open his own factory.


"Whether I am working in a state-owned enterprise or going out to work, the most painful thing is that I can't control the product. At that time, Chinese medical dressings were exported abroad and were directly called 'garbage products'. When I heard such degrading voices, I felt resentful and ashamed." So far, talking about it, Li Jianquan was still filled with indignation, "No matter how difficult it is to start a business, I decided the first thing is to open a factory, make a good product, ensure quality, and get rid of the stigma of 'garbage products'."


When others were using product quantity to grab orders to make big money, Li Jianquan actively introduced foreign advanced technology and quality management system, and insisted on winning orders with product quality. At the beginning of 30 years ago, Li Jianquan has regarded quality as the lifeline of the enterprise, and deeply engraved the sense of quality and awe into the growth genes of Winner Medical. He is well aware that medical dressing products are directly used on people, and once the quality goes wrong, it will endanger people's lives.


Today, Winner Medical has created a gorgeous Chinese "business card" in the medical dressing industry, bringing Chinese medical dressing products to the international stage. According to statistics from the China Medical Insurance Chamber of Commerce, Winner Medical has consistently ranked among the top three exporters of medical dressings in China for many years. By the end of the first half of 2021, the "Winner Medical" brand has entered more than 3,000 domestic hospitals and nearly 110,000 pharmacies, most of which are tertiary and secondary hospitals.


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The tie with cotton is always strong


From working in a state-owned enterprise to working in another city, then to starting his business, Li Jianquan has always had a unique feeling for cotton. "The first product I made in a state-owned enterprise was related to cotton. It was a cotton gauze mask at the time." When it comes to cotton, Li Jianquan's expression and tone have also become gentle, as if he is talking about his own child.


From 1991 to 2001, after 10 years, Winner Medical has developed into the export champion of the medical dressing industry, and always leads the way in the technical direction, quality standards, and industry trends. With the ever-expanding market space, Li Jianquan hopes to lead the industry to make new changes.


He noticed that although cotton gauze is a pure natural material, and is very easy to use, but the gauze has to go through spinning, weaving, cutting and other processes in the early stage before it can be made into medical dressings such as abdominal pads and surgical pads. In use, there is the possibility of one in ten thousand of cotton waste falling off. If it ends up falling into the body through the wound, the situation is very troublesome.


Therefore, Li Jianquan decided to make an innovative product that not only takes into account the pure nature of cotton, but also needs to be safe and convenient to use.


"This is very difficult and challenging in terms of process technology. At that time, there was no company in the world that could make cotton spunlace non-woven fabrics from raw cotton. I think it is necessary to do it, at least it can provide patients with safe protection." Li Jianquan recalled that after visiting many advanced laboratories at home and abroad. After countless experiments, the company finally independently developed the cotton spunlace non-woven technology in 2005, and based on this technology, his company successfully created a complete technology cluster and has obtained patent authorization in more than 30 countries and regions including the United States, Europe, and Japan.


During the prevention and control of the COVID-19 epidemic, the company innovatively applied cotton spunlace non-woven fabrics to infection protection products such as medical protective clothing, surgical gowns, and isolation gowns, which not only solved the supply problem of traditional protective raw material during the epidemic, but also improved the breathability and comfort of anti-epidemic products, which are both safe and environmentally friendly.


The scale of Winner Medical development is getting bigger and bigger, and the products are getting more and more diversified. "No matter how our products are developing with innovations, cotton is always our most basic material. At present, the company's cotton products account for more than 60%." Li Jianquan said.


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Build a national brand


The path of cotton innovation is not smooth. Although the technology and products are mature, medical products are subject to relevant approvals and there is no industry standard for this technology product at that time, so it will take another three years for the products to be commercialized in the medical field. During this period, Winner Medical did not stop, and Li Jianquan once again became the "first person to eat crabs" (try a new thing and enjoy the benefit) in the industry.


In his own words, this is called "thinking about change when you are poor." In the context of waiting for the door to the medical market to open, Li Jianquan keenly set his sights on the consumer market, hoping to take the lead in allowing consumers to experience the comfort and safety of innovative products. As a result, Winner Medical founded the "PurCotton".


Relying on the brand, in the field of consumer goods, the company has successively developed pure cotton soft towels, pure cotton wet wipes, pure cotton surface sanitary napkins and face towels, disposable underwear and other products, and has been invited to participate in the formulation of 14 national standards and industry standards, drafting and to formulate standards for the performance requirements of cotton non-woven surgical dressings, contact wound dressings, and technical specifications for children's masks.


"I have always had an idea to create a real national consumer brand. PurCotton has shown me a breakthrough." After saying, Li Jianquan pulled out a cotton soft towel to explain the mystery in detail.


Li Jianquan told reporters that the pure cotton soft towels first invented by PurCotton created a new category. Among them, pure cotton wet wipes, pure cotton surface sanitary napkins, cotton diapers and other core products, as well as gauze textiles and clothing, are all made of cotton so as to create new categories and lifestyles, shape the brand image of "new domestic products" with cotton as the core material and excellent product quality, and have formed effective barriers to competition and strong product added value.


How to build a good brand for consumer products? Different from the model of most brands that getting into hypermarkets first, and then switching to e-commerce, Li Jianquan insists on opening stores and training employees by himself. In his opinion, a good product of cotton must be able to be touched and felt by consumers, and a good product can "speak" by itself. And employees can further convey to consumers the concept of "comfort, health, and environmental protection" in PurCotton through face-to-face communication.


As PurCotton enters a mature period, Li Jianquan pays attention to new consumer needs again, and launched the "PureH2B" brand in July 2019, aiming to create a one-stop retail platform covering beauty, personal care, sports and other healthy and beautiful life needs. As of June 30, 2021, "PureH2B" is sold through 9 offline stores and online official website and mini programs, and the business is still in its infancy.


In Li Jianquan's view, the three major brands are good at winning games. Although they target different consumer groups, they all serve the health industry. Their products are all to satisfy people's pursuit of health, beauty, and a better life.


"The highest ceiling of a person is thinking, which determines one's ability to innovate and change, as well as the development of an enterprise." From a 30-year-old "veteran" in business startup to a "green hand" in the capital market, Li Jianquan last year actively adapted to the new changes of listed companies and closely followed the new pace of the capital market.


"We hope to leverage the power of the capital market to leverage a larger health industry, which requires us to cultivate a broader thinking and vision." Li Jianquan said frankly that the company has already had new thinking and layout after one year of listing. However, no matter where the company is heading, the only constant is the three core principles of business operation that Li Jianquan sticks to: quality prior to profit, brand prior to speed, and social value prior to corporate value.

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