Forging a Place in the World - 07/09/2010


Jackie Cheung and Jasmine Zou, South Surveying, China

SOUTH Surveying & Mapping Instrument Co Ltd is headquartered in Guangzhou, southern China's largest city, a key transportation hub and trading port that lies on the Pearl River, navigable to the South China Sea. SOUTH is the largest survey equipment manufacturer and software solutions provider in China, engaged in research, production, distribution and services.

Humble Beginnings
The origin of this huge Chinese manufacturer can be traced back to April 1989, when the two original founders, Ma Chao and Yang Zhenpeng, began as a trading company in a tiny office in a small hotel. Business began reselling imported survey instruments in China. Early success in trading prepared SOUTH for subsequent crucial steps in its development, upgrading its identity to a real manufacturer committed to R&D, production, mass sales, and even exploring the overseas market. Nowadays SOUTH has expanded to become a big group consisted of five affiliated factories, 150 domestic branches, six subsidiary companies, and seven overseas offices, allowing the company to accommodate a seamless national distribution network as well as fast-growing
global reach. It is hard to imagine now that this vast enterprise of 3,500 employees sprang from such humble beginnings.

Great Momentum
A young but dynamic manufacturer, SOUTH has ever since its early years of production held to a sacred mission: to realise the dream of homemade Chinese instruments. And the past two decades have witnessed the company attaining many firsts in the Chinese survey industry. For example, there followed in quick succession the first Chinese version of CAD mapping software; the first China-made electronic theodolite, total-station, survey-type GPS receiver, network CORS software, and so on. This momentum was accompanied by great changes in both the Chinese and global marketplace, especially within the manufacturing community.

Living the Dream
The dream of the homemade instrument represents just the early stage of the mission for SOUTH, as emphasised by Ma Chao during the company's twentieth anniversary ‘Grand Celebration' in 2009, for the company is "not a research insitutute". The success of Chinese-made instruments marks only a halfway point; most valued are ever-enhancing technologies and increasing market share that will keep the company sustainable. Beside its spectacular triumph in business, SOUTH never forgets its social responsibilities. The Charity Hope School in Huining, Gansu Province is named after SOUTH, and its generous donations to the Wenchuan earthquake area for reconstruction have proved a very good example set by a leading industrial enterprise.

Into New Arenas
Well equipped with a full productionline for various survey products, SOUTH has become the biggest survey instrument manufacturing base in the world, delivering 20,000 GNSS receivers, 35,000 total-stations and 30,000 electronic theodolites this year. All instruments that have profited from continual breakthroughs in technology over recent years! Enjoying around a 60% market share on the domestic market, SOUTH has extended this compelling dominance into another new arena: high-speed railway construction projects. The allround manufacturer is now working hard to contribute to this transformational system for the infrastructure of the motherland. China has proved that high-speed rail is no longer a technology of first-world countries, unveiling the world's fastest train, which once clocked peak speeds of up to 394km per hour, faster than Japan's Shinkansen and Germany's InterCity Express high-speed lines. A SOUTH team of 250 staff and an independent innovation, the CRTS Railway Precise Adjustment System, directed 70% of such civil works, highlighting this master solution over which the company holds proprietary intellectual property rights.

Home and Abroad
Haier, a Chinese brand renowned for home appliances, serves as a vivid example and template for the hardworking people who are forging a brand name for SOUTH across the world. While maintaining its prime share in the Chinese market, SOUTH has begun to diversify overseas. Since its initial appearance at Intergeo in 2003, the International Business Division has never paused in its global effort to make SOUTH better known on the world market. There has been frequent participation in international exhibitions, a persistent advertising campaign, and plenty of overseas trips to demonstrate products, deliver technical support and conduct market research. It is hard to find any other Chinese supplier in the survey industry accelerating as fast as SOUTH along this trajectory. An energetic and promising foreign sales team, mainly stationed in China, has made its mark in almost all corners of the world, setting the scene for intensive development. Low pricing is not what all end users are concerned about; quality services are the crowning glory of SOUTH as a responsible manufacturer. Its seven overseas offices in the USA, Vietnam and India, also offer direct services to the local market via sixty foreign staff, reinforcing the work ethic of the Chinese group.

Hopes and Challenges
Complimented as "the National Brand of the survey industry" by Xu Deming, Chinese Vice-Minister of of Land and Resources and director of the State Bureau for Surveying and Mapping, SOUTH sees a future full of new hopes and expectations, as well as challenges. The rapid rise of Chinese manufacturers has greatly changed the world market in terms of share and affordability, and SOUTH, now ranked ‘No. 4' as a global survey manufacturing group, has confidently won its place. There's nothing like affordability in terms of end-user priorities, and SOUTH has spared no effort in changing people's minds about the Chinese capacity to bring out quality survey instruments! Tough competition leads to more mergers and reform, and hence both manufacturers and distributors have to enhance their competitiveness in technologies and pricing. However, the ultimate beneficiary is the majority of the global surveying community, end users. Handier high-tech instruments at affordable prices is their aim nowadays, and this is just what SOUTH goes all out to produce. It is a company applying all its dilligence to striving for a brighter future for China and for the world.

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Last updated: 18/11/2017