by Xinhua writers Xu Jing, Miao Zhuang
CHICAGO, March 18 (Xinhua) -- A storm swept through the northern part of Illinois the day before, leaving this March morning in Rockford, a northernmost city in Illinois, icy cold. But light leaking out from the curtains of Rachel McGaw's house in a common neighborhood in Rockford gives a feeling of warmth.
McGaw was preparing breakfast for her sons, Vincent, a college student; and Caiden, a 7th grader. Dogs Ella and Luke briskly circled around the family in the dining room.
There are pictures of the family, together or separate, on the refrigerator and on the wall. Beside a picture of the two brothers on the wall of the sitting room hang three big words: "Live, Laugh and Love."
Rachel usually goes to work at 6:00 a.m.. Today, she took a pizza box for lunch, zigzagged for about 20 minutes in her Nissan Toledo and reached the facility of Wanxiang New Energy LLC, the solar division of Wanxiang America Corporation located in Rockford.
After dropping lunch box and coat in her office and checking some data in computer, she puts on white uniform and goes into the workshop.
Being the office manager of the facility, Rachel is familiar with every step of the operation of the plant. She joined co-workers in washing base glass, loading cell stack, arranging strings in series, adding voltages, and framing the cell panels. As machines have done most of the work, another work Rachel and her co-workers need to do is monitoring the machines.
Atmosphere in the workshop was brisk. Rachel occasionally exchanged remarks with workmates and they laughed.
Brent Anderson, the operation manager, told Xinhua the facility was built in 2010. "When we first started the facility, we didn't have any employees with solar skills, so we did fly in a couple Chinese engineers to help us start and to help us train," said Brent, "but it's gone well." Currently, 15 workers of the facility are all local residents.
The facility now covers 50,000 square feet. "Eventually when this facility is all done, it'll be five times that big." "We make a high quality product," Brent said proudly.
Ni Pin, president of Wanxiang America Corporation, attributed the start of this solar panel plant to bravery. The U.S. clean energy industry had a downturn at the time, "we were brave and decided that's the industry we want to jump in. Then, we set up our own solar plant in Rockford."
"It's a greenfield plant. We built it from ground zero, it is a manufacturing unit," Ni said.
Wanxiang New Energy LLC is just one of the 28-plus plants Wanxiang America Corporation, a branch of privately owned Chinese Wanxiang Group, runs in more than 20 states in the United States.
Auto part is the first foothold of Wanxiang America Corporation when it first set its foot on the United States in 1994. After 23 years' development, this privately owned Chinese company branch in the United States has spread its business to real estate, battery for automobiles, and electrical vehicles.
Buying troubled companies is one way for Wanxiang America Corporation to expand business. It bought bankrupt Fisker assets in 2014 and built it into a green field car manufacturing facility in California, employing about 1,000 local workers.
"Because we came to save the troubled company, we save a lot of jobs," Ni said.
Wanxiang America has a policy: to re-invest every penny it made locally here into the local community. It has so far invested a total of 10 billion dollars in the United States, creating some 8,000 jobs for local workers.
"We truly become a localized company in the United States," Ni said.
Creating job is one thing, to have employees stay long is another. Wanxiang America companies usually have four stakeholders: shareholder, employee, customer and the local community. "We have to balance among these four parties to make our companies successful," Ni told Xinhua.
"We are all together on the same boat. This is the Chinese culture. We're on the same boat, so we have to work together as a team." "The only way you can get people motivated is to respect them, give them the room to grow and award them when they have achieved," Ni stressed.
Rachel's satisfaction with her work echoed Ni's words: "I enjoy working here. I like my salary, I like my hours, I like Brent. He's an awesome boss." "Wanxiang is good to employees, they treat us with respect and they're loyal," Rachel told Xinhua.
"My experience with Wanxiang has actually been better than my experience with an American company. I feel like you're more valued. They take you and your feeling and your family into consideration." "I am happy," Rachel said.