30 Jun Dr. Hon cover article, China Bicycle magazine part 1
At DAHON HQ, we were very happy to have DAHON CEO and President, Dr. Hon featured as the cover star on China Bicycle magazine last month. He has been described by the publication as being “always at the forefront of product innovation and industrial revitalization, and is highly respected by the industry”.
We are publishing translated extracts from the article so the global cycling industry can learn more about Dr. Hon and his endless dedication to work, and more about DAHON, which is constantly re-inventing itself.
In this first extract we will delve in the life of Dr. Hon with his success story and interests outside of DAHON.
Reporter: DAHON is a highly reputable brand in the industry. Please tell us about your entrepreneurial experience and how you became involved in the bicycle industry.
Dr. Hon: I was born in Shaoguan, Guangdong Province, and my family moved to Hong Kong when I was 9 years old. During that time, my family’s economic conditions were not good, so I helped my parents take care of the family from an early age and became a “latchkey kid”. Life experience has taught me a lot of lessons, which has helped my ability to adapt to change with a determined attitude.
When I was 19, my family emigrated to the United States from Hong Kong and I studied at the University of California, Berkeley, UCLA, and the University of Southern California. After receiving my PhD in physics, I was hired by Hughes Aircraft in 1972, one of the world’s leading aerospace companies, to lead the development of the first tactical laser, and I went on to become a highly reputable leader in laser technology during the Space Race of the 1970s.
When the oil crisis hit in 1975, many Americans realized they needed better urban transportation to reduce their dependence on cars. At the time, the alternative was envisaged to be public transport combined with an affordable and lightweight vehicle, powered by people or electricity. I also recognized this need to change the way of travel. When I was at university, I had to disassemble my bike and put it in the car every day to get around. It was this experience that got me thinking about inventing a foldable bicycle that would appeal to the masses: light, aesthetically pleasing, and fast, but also cheap. So I raised $200,000 to develop the folding bike prototype.
In 1984, DAHON set up a factory in Taiwan, and produced 6,000 folding bicycles in its first year. Soon after, these products swept the market; with tens of thousands of DAHON folding bicycles coming off the production line. At this point the DAHON brand was well recognized by everyone, and I earned the industry nickname of “Father of the folding bicycle”.
Reporter: You are an entrepreneur with a strong sense of social responsibility. DAHON Group has participated in many public welfare and charity activities. What do you think of the public welfare sector?
Dr. Hon: Yes, over the years, DAHON has been doing charity work, especially through helping poor students who have examinations coming up to enter college. The purpose of this is to help poor students go to school and to truly build on their knowledge and get the opportunity to change their fate.
In 2014, DAHON Group joined the “Reclaim Pearls Program” which was initiated by the Xinhua Love Foundation in 2004. By 2020, DAHON Group had helped 157 high school students complete their studies, allowing more students from the program to further their education, and enjoy equal opportunities. Not long ago, we also received good news about DAHON Pearl students. From the 2020 college entrance examinations, 100% of undergraduates passed. Now, we have started the funding program for 2021, hoping to help more students to be happy, confident, successful and motivated to give back to society in the future.
Reporter: At the age of 80, you are still active in industry development and growing your enterprise. What is the secret of you keeping such an excellent working condition?
Dr. Hon: I’m a workaholic, so to speak. I love the bicycle industry, so I am willing to devote most of my energy to my work. Working is also a way for me to give back to society. When I was young, my neighbors helped me with my family’s difficulties, and I met many noble people who helped me when I was studying and starting my business. In my opinion, working hard and doing a good job is the best way I can repay those people for their help, as well as get more resources to help more people.
During my free time, I also take an active part in sports, such as riding a bike, playing basketball and so on. When I was in middle school, I was the captain of my school swimming team. My swimming record stood for a long time before it was broken. Keeping the habit of exercising, a healthy diet and having a good attitude has set the foundation for me to carry on working hard. If possible, I would like to work for another five to ten years or more.