Olivier Brault: A right choice to take part in this great evolution of Chinese market
2018-08-22 13:59:00

Olivier Brault is in an interview with JiangsuNow (Photo by Ni Jianmiao)

Olivier Brault, who hails from Canada and works as General Manager for Asia Pacific at SOPREMA, is an honorary citizen in Changzhou city, Jiangsu province.

"Jiangsu is my second hometown" 

Brault was still a young man when he arrived in China 14 years ago. At that time, despite all kinds of dreams, he never thought that he would get married with a Chinese woman and settle down well in the eastern province.

Today, with a Chinese name Bai Liwei, the 38-year-old has already fitted in perfectly.

At home, he can talk with his parents-in-law from Xinghua, Taizhou city in Chinese, or occasionally speak dialects of northern Jiangsu with his son. In the office, there are special courses to help learn Chinese and understand Chinese culture.

Even if he returns to Canada to visit his relatives or for business trips, he still keeps the habit of eating rice.

Life in a foreign country is always full of challenges, but Brault enjoys a lot the present life.

"We cannot just come here and live in the bubble. We can't just understand the culture and investment environment through the Internet. We have to do as the Romans do, speak the language, and experience the customs here," he said.

Such an open mind perhaps help Brault find his career and love. In August 2017, he was awarded the title of "Honorary Citizen” by the Changzhou Municipal Government.

"We are three generations under one roof, and Jiangsu is now my second hometown," said Brault.

Changes in Jiangsu are “incredible” 

On the changes he has experienced in Jiangsu, Brault described them as "incredible".

He still remembers there were only few trains from Shanghai to Nanjing years ago. It used to take many hours before, “but now it really looks like Shanghai and Nanjing are just next door.”

With further progress of reform and opening up, he said the cities here are becoming more modern, the roads wider, people's lives better, and the concept of green development has also been deeply rooted in the hearts of the people.

SOPREMA is a century-old manufacturer specializing in the production of innovative products for waterproofing and insulation solutions for the roofing, building envelope and civil engineering sectors, with over 60 production plants worldwide.

On March 7, 2017, SOPREMA opened a 1.7-hectare factory in Changzhou city, which is also its first production base in Asia Pacific.

Brault said Jiangsu has high-speed railways and expressways in all directions, very convenient for both business trips and cargo transportation.

And on the back end, Jiangsu already has the backbone for good raw materials and workers.

"The supply chain in Jiangsu is very good. It’s very easy for us to find a partner close by to produce good quality raw materials. It's helpful for us to set up new production here, so we can focus on what we can do best.”

Besides, the colleges and universities in Jiangsu province are not just for bachelor or master degrees, but also for the professional workers.

Continue to support China’s reform and opening up 

"For us, the big improvement for the reform and opening-up policy is that we are able to be here and take part in this great evolution of Chinese market,” said Brault.

SOPREMA started with a very small team in 2004, when there were only about three employees. It was difficult to convince the shareholders and management to increase investment in China due to concerns of cultural gap and uncertainty about China's investment environment.

As China keeps deepening reform and opening up and significantly improving the investment environment, SOPREMA has also brought more quality products to the Chinese market and obtained a good reputation. “When I look back, I believe we did the right choice,” Brault added.

Brault also said SOPREMA will increase investment in Jiangsu. According to the plan, the second and third phases of the Changzhou facility will cover an area of 4.7 hectares and 6.7 hectares respectively, with a total investment of $150 million.

"With the intensive introduction of a series of initiatives in China, such as drastically relaxing market access and promoting trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, we don’t feel there is anything that can stop us from growing here, except our own abilities,” said Brault.

Building new systems for developing an open economy and creating a better environment for investment have played an important role in the economic development of Changzhou.

According to the Changzhou Bureau of Commerce, the city has newly approved 17 projects each with foreign investment exceeding $30 million, of which eight projects were more than $100 million in the first half of 2018, and the actual foreign investment received was $1.36 billion, up 23.1 percent year-on-year.

Brault said he has no plan to leave Jiangsu in the future.

"Jiangsu has welcomed us so much, both personally and professionally. It is a good and healthy investment environment that can bring returns to investors. We'll continue to support China's reform and opening up," said Brault.

Source:jschina.com.cn Editor:Dylan

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