China's Export Machine Goes High-End

Higher wages and a stronger currency force a change
A Sany truck-mounted concrete pump Photograph by Forbes Conrad/Bloomberg

From its sprawling manufacturing base deep in China’s southwestern Hunan province, some 100 kilometers from where Mao was born, construction-machinery maker Sany Group plans to take on the world. While workers in blue overalls and yellow hard hats crawl over huge mobile hydraulic cranes and cement mixer trucks in a gleaming factory, Sany President Tang Xiuguo sits in his expansive office nearby, discussing the opening of Sany factories in Brazil, India, and Alabama, as well as the soon-to-be-completed $475 million acquisition of Germany’s Putzmeister, the world’s largest maker of cement pumps. The bespectacled Tang, one of four founders of the 22-year-old company, aims to lift overseas sales, now some 5 percent of its $16 billion revenue, to up to one-fifth of revenues within five years.

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