Although he is only 45 years old, Huichen Xu owns a Chinese manufacturer of construction and mining equipment; a Chinese research and development company; a Hong Kong holding company; a real estate company and a Shanghai trading company.
Xu also is the new owner of Terraquip Construction Products Inc., the maker of small Terramite-brand backhoes, tractors and end loaders.
The young entrepreneur has big plans for Terramite, which is headquartered in Cross Lanes.
In an interview conducted through Shaohui Jiang, a translator with the law firm Bailey & Glasser, Xu (pronounced "shoe") said that although he may import Chinese-made construction equipment to sell here, it is not his focus. Rather, Xu's immediate goals are to expand Terramite's product line, build the equipment here and grow sales in North America.
"We will grow the operation right here and build a R&D center and add more models and strengthen the research capacity and hope to do well in North America," he said. "I have been studying Terramite's history. It was founded in 1965. The company has a great history. It was very successful except for the last few years."
Terramite had 94 employees in 2003, when then-U.S. Commerce Secretary Donald Evans and U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., toured the company's factory on Goff Mountain Road. Now Terramite has fewer than 50 employees, Xu said.
"I want to grow production from several hundred units (per year)," he said. "I want to streamline production. After that, I hope the pieces come together. We will hire more people."
Xu hopes to eventually export Terramite products to China and other Asian nations. "China has a huge market for this type of equipment," he said.
"Made in the U.S.A. is still a big brand, a good sell," he added. "At this stage of the economy, it is not like 20 years ago, when customers were looking for cheaper. Customers are looking for quality. They want the most reliable equipment."