Employees come first: unfolding energy towards a colorful future
Hu Wenyi had mixed feelings when she saw that her employer’s name was changing from Yinfan Chemistry Company Limited (“Yinfan”) to BASF Coatings (Guangdong) Company Limited.
Since 2004, Hu had been responsible for quality control at Yinfan, the private-owned Chinese enterprise, and had gotten used to working and living in Jiangmen. Then, on September 26, 2016, she became an employee for BASF, one of the world’s Top 500 global enterprises. She anticipated this change with both excitement and anxiety.
Since April 2016, the BASF Human Resources Greater China team had been engaging in in-depth communications with the management teams of both organizations. They provided professional support to foster mutual understanding between the two companies’ corporate cultures and management styles. This helped to identify the best approach to the transitional period with minimum interruption.
It all begun with the establishment of BASF Coatings (Guangdong) Company Limited, the global chemical giant’s first automotive refinish manufacturing operation in Asia Pacific, more specifically: in Jiangmen, southern China.
In September 2016, BASF completed the acquisition of Yinfan’s assets and established a new legal entity. For the 126 Yinfan employees joining BASF, this marked a big change in their career development.
To support the new employees’ transition into BASF, the company offered a series of development plans and trainings, especially in areas such as compliance and safety management. It was then that things started to take a new turn.
“At BASF, we care for employees and do our best to create a safe and reliable working environment.”
William Pu, Vice Director of Human Resources Greater China, Operations & Engineering, Joint Venture Support, BASF
“Proper rearrangement of employees serves as a decisive factor to a successful acquisition,” said William Pu, Vice Director of Human Resources Greater China, Operations & Engineering, Joint Venture Support, BASF, who crafted the HR integration plan. “At BASF, we care for employees. Whether it comes to work-life balance, health or safety, we do our best to create a safe and reliable working environment and to form the best team.”
He explained that since the start of the integration work, BASF has carried out an evaluation and upgrade plan for the facilities. Now, the site not only meets BASF standards but also provides a highly efficient and enhanced working environment for employees.
“I am responsible for quality control,” said Hu. “BASF invests twice as much as we had in the past on maintenance and upgrade for inspection equipment and R&D facilities.” An upgrade in production lines has been planned and scheduled as well.
For Fan Yongqiang, a former Yinfan employee and current production manager of BASF Coatings (Guangdong) Company Limited, the usage of a personal protective equipment kit made him quickly realize that his new employer makes people and safety its top priorities.
At BASF, employees must wear proper personal protection equipment before entering plants, which is a practice different from the previous Yinfan culture, but in strict accordance with Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) requirements. Some experienced operators thought it was unnecessary. “It seemed like a waste of time for I am doing a simple job,” said one of the operators. However, after several rounds of safety training and communication, employees started to think differently. They now have a much stronger safety mindset. “We were proud of our work experiences in the past but now we have begun to understand the great potential of combining our experiences with theory. We strive to enrich our knowledge about plant equipment. We are more familiar with the chemicals we are dealing with at work, both with its potential risk and foremost the necessary protection. I am grateful that the company cares for us,” said Fan.
Apart from work safety, BASF also provides a competitive total offering, insurance and welfare system for the employees to recognize their contributions to the company. Hu, a mother of two, now has more days off to be with her family and her children are happy with this change for family hours gained.
The acquisition by BASF means not only new job opportunities, but also an uplift in competencies, a key to career development.
Training, therefore, is a key element of the integration plan. The Human Resources Greater China team has prepared a package of comprehensive trainings for the new employees, covering the company’s strategies, businesses, compliance, human resources, safety and professional skills. In addition to general training, there are specialized trainings for different job fields and one-on-one guidance and tutoring.
“Training is just one of the ways for learning,” said Fan. “We also want to learn from daily challenges in our day-to-day work.”
Since the acquisition, there have been close exchanges between BASF Coatings (Guangdong) Company Limited and other BASF sites. New employees received the chance to visit other sites in China and experts were invited to give recommendations in process management, safety control and personnel management. The aspect of BASF learning from a mid-size local entity has not been neglected. There were follow-ups so that suggestions and findings could be well implemented. For management personnel such as Fan it was a new learning opportunity. “Under the premise of fulfilling my own job I would like to grasp every opportunity to gain new knowledge and skills related to the industry,” he said.
For any business acquisition, conflicts between old and new practices are inevitable. Hu said in the beginning there was doubt about the new rules. “However, the company fully listened to our voices and encouraged us to get involved instead of simply conforming us to follow. When we experience more and benefit, we not only understand the company's intentions, but also cultivate ourselves in a sense of responsibility at work,” she said. “This is probably what they called entrepreneurship. BASF has provided me with a better platform for further development.”
“The right chemistry among our people is crucial to our sustainable development.”
Dr. Sébastien Garnier, Director of Business Management Automotive Refinish Coatings, BASF Greater China
BASF Coatings (Guangdong) Company Limited aims to serve as a technology and production hub to support the company’s refinish business operations in different market segments across the Asia Pacific region. “The right chemistry among our people is crucial to our sustainable development. Their competencies, motivation to win and enthusiasm will act as the cornerstone for the sustainable development of our business”, said Dr. Sébastien Garnier, Director of Business Management Automotive Refinish Coatings, BASF Greater China.
Employees remain the focus throughout the entire process of the acquisition. Before the official acquisition, BASF conducted comprehensive investigations on Yinfan, especially on employees’ needs. During the transitional period, BASF closely connected with employees, informed them about the opportunities and BASF’s culture and helped them to understand BASF better. After the closing, BASF carried out an integration plan with safety education, on-the-job training and facility upgrades to show employees opportunities in career development.
In this new company, established less than one year ago, the positive energy has spread into the team. Fan sees an improvement in operators’ skills, which ultimately leads to higher customer satisfaction and more orders, indicating better overall performance in product offerings. Many job opportunities have arisen for the BASF site in the south, ranging from e-commerce to new EHS or production roles, some of which did not exist in the past.
While the business is developing quickly, Hu is also improving her own abilities. Now, as an employee of an international company, she is learning English with her children. In one of her child’s homeworks she was surprised to find the following written: “My mother is learning English with me at home. I am so proud of her.” This certainly delighted her. “I look forward to growing with BASF, to connecting and to creating a brighter future.”
On February 2017, BASF Coatings (Guangdong) Company Limited was awarded the "Workplace Occupational Health Management Role Model Enterprise" following a strict on-site audit by the expert team of Jiangmen government, Guangdong province. With its workplace occupational health management policy, the company has actively implemented the occupational disease prevention, defined control responsibilities and met the standard on workplace occupational health management. Therefore, it has become an enterprise representative recommended by the Jiangmen Safety Supervision Bureau.
BASF Coatings (Guangdong) Company Limited has adhered to the company’s stringent standards on EHS since its establishment last year. According to BASF’s global standard, the company has gradually standardized its occupational health management with increased investment and focus in workplace management, protective facilities, equipment management, and occupational health monitoring. It operates its production facilities strictly complying to the standard requirements.
BASF information: Where do you see yourself in the future at BASF?
Fan Yongqiang: I try my best and work hard, to keep advancing my skills and improving my expertise as a whole. I hope that I can keep going forward on BASF’s well-developed platform, aggressively making progress and playing my own part well here.
Hu Wenyi: At work, I find that I still have a lot to learn and to work on in future. I hope to become a highly-qualified BASF employee. I look forward to grow with BASF.
BASF information：What do you want to say to new employees of BASF Coatings (Guangdong) Co., Ltd.?
Dr. Sébastien Garnier: BASF Coatings (Guangdong) Co., Ltd. provides a wide development platform for all staff. Let us form the best team in the refinish paint business and create a colorful future together.
William Pu: With new job opportunities, the new employees will face both motivation and pressure. We will try our best to help them fully develop themselves and build a sustainable future for both the company and the individuals.