Lin introduces to CGTN reporter that his company is now focused on exporting to overseas markets, where demand remains high. [Photo/CGTN]
"Face masks were a real lifeline at the time. And my job was to produce quality medical protective masks at all costs. That was my responsibility and duty," Lin Jinxiang, a private entrepreneur, recalled the most difficult times during the pandemic.
His company, located in Jiande city, East China's Zhejiang province, has been producing face masks for around 25 years. On January 21 last year, after China's top epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan confirmed that the new coronavirus discovered in Wuhan could be transmitted from person to person, Lin immediately held a meeting in his company and decided to produce mask supplies.
"All our employees were on holiday for the Spring Festival at that time. So I asked them to return to the factory for three times their usual salary," said Lin, adding he paid them that level of salary for two months.
When the epidemic began spreading across the country, only around 20 companies in China had the certification to produce medical protective masks and Lin's company is one of them. Lin's company becomes the first one in China to massively produce masks, with around 700 employees returning to the factory.
"We produced over 20 million medical protective masks in the first two months, which accounted for around 55 percent of the country's total demand, and around 98 percent of the demand in Zhejiang province," Lin told CGTN.
Lin Jinxiang opens up his lab and offers free tests for new mask makers. [Photo/CGTN]
Big profit loss, but worth it
With countries around the world desperately looking for quality masks, prices soared. Lin said the market price for each medical mask was as high as 26 yuan ($4) at the time. But he sold masks to hospitals on the frontline for a cut-price of six yuan each, less than a dollar.
"I lost about 300 million yuan in profit during that period. As a medium-sized private company, we were not that rich. But as a member of the CPC, I believe it's my social responsibility, especially when the whole country is faced with such a disaster," Lin explained.
In order to better protect the company's employees, Lin spent around 6 million yuan renting 10 hotels nearby the factory, making sure they could fully devote themselves to work.
With record levels of market demand, many domestic companies decided to invest and produce their own face masks. But only a few companies like Lin's had the qualification to test the materials and evaluate the quality.
In the case, Lin made a bold decision to open up his lab and offer free tests and training for new mask producers.
"I was a little hesitant because it meant sharing my business technology with other manufacturers," Lin told CGTN.
Lin's company warehouse was almost empty in the first half of 2020, with all of the masks delivered to hospitals in China and around the world.
After producing millions of medical masks to fight COVID-19, Lin was rewarded as one of China's top 100 private entrepreneurs who have contributed to the national effort fighting against COVID-19.
"I may have earned less profit this year, but I'll make it back over the next few years. It's the values and sense of duty that define a man, not the profit he makes," Lin told CGTN.
He believes that more entrepreneurs have taken their sense of social responsibility seriously amid the epidemic, and their efforts are helping drive global recovery.