Business / Companies

A trip of enlightenment

By Diao Ying (China Daily) Updated: 2012-11-23 17:15

A visit to China nine years ago opened a new world for an Italian businessman and his company

The first time Dardanio Manuli went to China, many of his friends and colleagues thought he was mad. It was the autumn of 2003, soon after the pandemic SARS killed more than 900 people worldwide, a third of them on the Chinese mainland.

Not only did the Milan businessman return home alive and well, but it turned out to be a trip that would have a marked impact on his life. It gave him a starting point to explore markets outside Europe, putting his business on a firmer footing that has helped it weather the current European recession.

A trip of enlightenment

Dardanio Manuli, chairman and chief executive officer of Manuli Rubber Industries. [Photo/China Daily] 

Manuli, 47, is the chairman and chief executive officer of Manuli Rubber Industries, a family business that makes hydraulic products used in construction and mining.

His company's sales reached 320 million euros ($408 million) last year, higher than in 2008, before the financial crisis.

The trip changed his perception of the world, he says. Before it, his understanding of China was scant. What he did know was that it was far away, and he expected to find a backward country in which "everything would be diffi