China News Service, February 26 (China News Financial Reporter Zuo Yukun) On February 25, Wahaha issued an obituary. Zong Qinghou, founder and chairman of Wahaha Group, failed to treat illness and died at 10:00 on February 25, 2024. Died 30 minutes later at the age of 79.

  The legend has come to an end, with lingering echoes.

After the news came out, people came to pay their respects in front of the old Wahaha headquarters, offering bouquets of flowers and Wahaha products such as AD calcium milk. Many business friends and descendants also sent their condolences and deeply missed this outstanding representative of private entrepreneurs.

  Looking back on Zong Qinghou's life, he founded Wahaha from scratch at the age of 42. He became the richest man in China three times, and integrated his personal ambitions into the vision of the times. In his interactions with people, he once started a hot topic dispute with Jack Ma and then shook hands. He was Zhong Suisui's boss and then competed with him until he became a career model and spiritual role model in the eyes of younger generations.

  Image source: “Wahaha” WeChat public account

He once "discussed reality" with Jack Ma

He was once the "big boss" of Zhong Suisui

  "It's never too late to fight forty in life, a pioneering spirit; it is the true nature of an entrepreneur to work hard and work hard to innovate despite all the difficulties in starting a business." According to Zhejiang Daily, this was an elegiac couplet sent by Alibaba founder Jack Ma to Zong Qinghou on February 26.

  Zong Qinghou and Jack Ma, both representatives of Zhejiang merchants, have crossed paths many times.

Although they each had their own opinions on enterprise development and market competition, they finally made peace and created a rather classic "dispute between virtual and real economies."

  In 2016, Zong Qinghou discussed the "Five New" proposed by Jack Ma (new retail, new manufacturing, new finance, new technology and new energy) in a TV show, saying that except for "new technology", everything else is nonsense. Eight ways.

  Soon after, Jack Ma also responded in public that the real economy and the virtual economy are not antagonistic.

There is no distinction between physical and virtual enterprises, only good enterprises and bad enterprises.

  After several confrontations, the two did not break up, but instead got closer and closer.

The public group photo of shaking hands and greetings calmed down the "dispute between virtual and real economy". Since then, Wahaha and Alibaba have joined hands many times to jointly build "shared service credit booths" and so on.

  The common label between Zong Qinghou and Jack Ma is "China's richest man". Both of them have reached the top of wealth many times.

From 2021 to 2023, Zhong Suisui, who has been the richest man in China for three consecutive years, is also closely related to Zong Qinghou.

  In 1988, Wahaha's first product, Wahaha Children's Nutritional Solution, became an instant hit. In this year, Zhong Suisui, who was also from Zhejiang, quit his job as a reporter and went south to do business.

  In 1991, Wahaha, which had achieved an output value of over 100 million yuan the previous year, merged with Hangzhou Canned Food Factory and continued to expand.

Zhong Suisui became the general agent of the rising Wahaha in Hainan and Guangxi, intersecting with Zong Qinghou's career.

After Zhong Suisui established his own business, his Nongfu Spring and Wahaha became competitors in the drinking water track.

  On the afternoon of the 25th, people came to lay flowers at the old site of Wahaha headquarters.

Photo by Wang Gang

Business wisdom affects the new generation of entrepreneurs

"He's like a simple 'uncle next door'"

  On February 25, Lei Jun, founder, chairman and CEO of Xiaomi Group, posted two Weibo posts. The first one said: "A legend of a generation." In the second post, Lei Jun said, "I never drank Wahaha AD Calcium when I was a child. I don’t even know him. I read a book about him more than 20 years ago. I was deeply impressed and admired him very much. A legend of a generation, he will go well all the way."

  In the evening of the same day, Zhou Hongyi, founder and chairman of 360 Group, also released a video to mourn Zong Qinghou: Mr. Zong Qinghou and I did not have much personal relations.

I have been fortunate enough to meet Mr. Zong at many conferences and forums, and have sat at round tables with him. I have the impression that Mr. Zong doesn’t talk much, is approachable, and dresses very simply, like a simple “uncle next door.”

  It is worth mentioning that both of them mentioned a book about Wahaha.

Lei Jun mentioned: "I just found it on my bookshelf: "Very Marketing Wahaha: China's Most Successful Practical Lesson Plan", published in 2002." Zhou Hongyi said: "Lei Jun recommended me to read a book about Wahaha, "Very Marketing" ", I was enlightened."

  Zhou Hongyi said: "Mr. Zong, such a successful entrepreneur, took the trouble to repeat it many times when he was building a marketing network. As a young man and an entrepreneur, why should I feel tired? Later, I said it over and over again on many occasions. When I repeatedly talk about my philosophy, I will always think of the scene when Mr. Zong promoted Wahaha."

  "I hope his spirit can continue to encourage more entrepreneurs in China to work together." Zhou Hongyi said.

  Zong Qinghou.

Photo courtesy of Wahaha

Friends from all walks of life recall Zhejiang business models

"His life reflects the changes of the times"

  "Rest in peace, my friend Zong Qinghou." After learning the news of Zong Qinghou's death, Li Shufu, chairman of Geely Holding Group, wrote a letter of condolence in his own handwriting, saying that he was sad that Zhejiang had lost a business leader and that Wahaha had lost a business leader. Founder is sad.

  Li Shufu said in his condolence letter: "You are a trendsetter in the era of reform and opening up; you are a pioneer in innovation and entrepreneurship of private enterprises; you are an outstanding representative of modern Zhejiang businessmen. We have studied together many times and provided suggestions for the development of Zhejiang's private economy. You The proposals made during the two sessions were very down-to-earth, with both height and depth. You have opened up new territories for the rise and development of China's food and beverage industry, and you are a role model for the first generation of Zhejiang businessmen."

  Zhang Tianren, vice chairman of the Zhejiang Federation of Industry and Commerce and chairman of Tianneng Holding Group, said: I am deeply saddened to hear this news. Mr. Zong is a very respected senior by our Zhejiang businessmen.

I attended the National Two Sessions in Beijing a few years ago and was in the same group as him. Every time I communicated with him, I benefited a lot and was deeply admired.

Mr. Zong worked hard all his life to run a business, and what he left to the society is not only an excellent company, but also innovative and entrepreneurial spirit such as "44,000", which is a precious spiritual wealth for our Zhejiang merchants.

I wish Mr. Zong a good journey.

  Yang Yiqing, director of the Zhejiang Merchants Museum and professor at Zhejiang Gongshang University, said: Chairman Zong Qinghou’s focused and pragmatic entrepreneurial spirit, hard-working entrepreneurial work style, and unique management style are typical among Chinese entrepreneurs and Zhejiang merchants.

Zong Qinghou is a model of civilian entrepreneurship. His life reflects the changes of the times. He shares the dividends of reform and opening up. He is also an outstanding representative of Zhejiang businessmen who have "the right time, the right place and the right people" for entrepreneurship.

Focusing on the main business and adhering to the industry for 37 years, Zong Qinghou’s focused and pragmatic entrepreneurial spirit is the internal driving force supporting the sustainable development of the company.

  On February 26, the China Beverage Industry Association sent a message of condolences: His successful experience and management philosophy have had a profound impact on the development of China's beverage industry, inspiring more entrepreneurs and practitioners to move forward bravely, continue to explore and innovate, and promote the development of the industry. Continuous development.

  At the entrance of the Wahaha Group headquarters, there is still an endless stream of mourners.

AD Among the calcium milk and flowers, someone sent size 41 cloth shoes to Zong Qinghou, who loves to wear cloth shoes.

Looking back on the life of this "richest man in cloth shoes", perhaps his own words are most appropriate -

  "I have created a Wahaha in this life. There will be a thousand Hamlets in the eyes of a thousand people, and there will be a thousand Wahaha in the eyes of a thousand people. But for me, there is only one Wahaha, and it is my whole life. Life, all dreams, all meanings, values, labels and symbols, it is the proof that I have existed in this world." (End)