The Foundation of Far Eastern Group

The Foundation of Far Eastern Group

Yu-Ziang Hsu, the Founder of the Far Eastern Group headquartered in Taiwan witnessed a crucial era in modern history, transforming crisis into opportunity through significant contributions to an emerging economic success story. The establishment of the Republic of China brought an end to Imperial China and with his birth in 1911, this modern era provided an ideal environment to build a future legacy inextricably linked to this historical past. 

In a time of turbulence and civil war and a subsequent political and financial liberalization with the Nationalist governments move to Taiwan, a range of obstacles became a revitalized economic miracle. Y. Z. Hsu exemplifies the period, through his work ethic and building of a vast conglomerate spanning major industries which contributed to a healthy economy and growth. His management philosophy and social responsibility surpassed that of the ordinary entrepreneur, with many affluent leaders recognizing his pioneering spirit and modern leadership.

In his autobiography, Hsu’s role model, was Jian Zhang, a merchant scholar from the end of the Qing Dynasty (1844-1912) who, also came from Jiangsu Province. Zhang resigned from his affluent post at the imperial court to return to his hometown where he was to establish a textile business, hospital, libraries and parks for his community.

At 26,  Hsu had established his first major business in Shanghai Tung Mao Hua Food Trading Company. He learned Western business concepts from trade liberalization and advantages beholden to the Yangtze River as a major port.  Shanghai had become one of the earliest textile production centers and a home to major early trading companies which were adopting modern business procedures. International trade, prioritized language skills and Hsu took the extraordinary measure of employing English instruction for training initiatives.

Sincerity, Diligence, Thrift and Prudence (from right to left)

From his experience and the pressures of the greater “macro” environment, Hsu came to develop a unique management philosophy: “Sincerity, Diligence, Thrift and Prudence.” 
With “Sincerity” as a guiding principle, a reputation of trust would assist in the ability to obtain loans from international financial institutions for expansion. It is exemplified in 1958, when a devastating fire nearly destroyed the Far Eastern Knitting Factory and heavily vested in the burgeoning Asia Cement Corporation, Hsu amid the rubble once said, “I will rise and stand again” and worked to secure cash for his vendors from the bank.

Yu-Ziang Hsu accompanied Zhao-Zhong Yu and Yen-Si Tsiang during a visit to Yuan Ze University

Hsu loved and worked tirelessly with his team of employees, visited ongoing construction projects at every opportunity to oversee progress, supervise quality and resolve issues. In 1993, Far Eastern Group’s Taiwan headquarters one of the first hi-rise twin tower buildings designed by an internationally reknown architectural firm, was under construction. In his advanced eightieth decade, with only a rudimentary construction elevator, he was the first to visit each floor weekly, once expressing

“You need to be at the forefront, if you want it done well,”.

In contrast to admired Western characteristics, the concept of “Thrift” is embodied in traditional Eastern Philosophy. Having experienced the turbulence of war through the Japanese invasion and the subsequent civil war in China, Hsu had experienced and overcome many struggles allowing him multiple perspectives on operational success. In 1971, Oriental Chemical Fiber Corporation, despite pressure to exceed production expectations, he encouraged a resourceful approach inline with contemporary corporate goals for reducing waste. Stating. “There is an abundance of gold in the factory. Processed and scrap fiber can be recycled as ‘byproduct.’ Everyone should be encouraged to convert this into a valuable and usable product, and there should be a staff reward to those who are able to do this,”.  A productivity reward policy continues today.

Prudence, requires a thoughtful risk evaluation, with a bold step towards opportunities once initiatives are decided. He once stated, “From Shanghai to Taiwan, Far Eastern never stops investing, and never stops looking forward.”  Hsu followed government incentives and purchased a dry bulk ship from China Shipbuilding Corporation during an economic downturn. Deemed unwise by many, Hsu determined that it had reached bottom and in the two years until its maiden voyage, market conditions would once again be favorable. Since inception, U-Ming Marine Transport Corporation steadily advanced, developing a reputation for reliability in ocean transportation and increasing internationalization. Hsu once said,

“See what others have yet to see; find a niche, and step forward before others, there, you have a great chance at success.”

Yu-Ziang Hsu was awarded the Order of the Brilliant Start presented by Teng-Hui Lee, the President of the ROC at the time.

Hsu’s impact on society through a community-oriented mindset is contemporaneous with today’s corporate mindset, with most businesses promotion of corporate social responsibility. Forty-five years ago, however, Hsu was a pioneer of his generation, as was his hero Jian Zhang. Increasingly, he turned his focus towards the community and promoting health and education through support for athletics, academics, and medicine where he promoted resources closer to his heart.
Built on the foundation of cotton, a major product of Hsu’s hometown. Cotton is symbolic, of the core value of Far Eastern Group to pass on to future generations.

“Cotton is humble,” He once said. “It doesn’t have a fragrant smell or an exotic color, and yet it provides much warmth to human beings. The origin and spirit of my business comes from cotton.”  

Business and Company
News Type
FEG 70

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