Southwest China SME interview


Name: Arvid Egeland

Position: Representative

Company: SenseAir Chengdu Gas Sensors Co Ltd

Location: Chengdu

Company size (no. of employees): 120 globally

Sector: Manufacturing

Core business: Infrared gas sensing technology, CO2 sensor production and research.

When did you come to China?

I first came to Beijing for a business trip in 1999, and the experience enriched my whole career.

Why did you come to China?

After having visited some customers in China, I realised that there is a big potential for our products here. With increasing global greenhouse gas emissions and the problem of heavy air pollution, the Chinese Government has been looking for better solutions from outside China. As a Swedish company with 20 years’ experiences in infrared gas sensors, we believe that we can provide our technology to help alleviate part of this problem. In recent years, the issue of air pollution has drawn more and more attention, and the dangers that PM2.5 poses to human health are now acknowledged.

The improvement of indoor air quality helps to create better living and working conditions for people, and CO2 is a very important measurement of indoor air quality. It is important to maintain good ventilation based on CO2 levels inside a room in order to achieve an optimum healthy environment. A high concentration of CO2 in a room is unhealthy for anyone working inside for long periods. However, these days people tend to avoid opening windows because they don’t want to increase levels of PM2.5. This can lead to levels of CO2 gradually increasing. Our job is to help people to understand how to create a better, more balanced indoor air climate to help them stay healthy.

Where is your company located?

We have one headquarter in Delsbo Sweden. In 2009, we opened a wholly foreign-owned enterprise in Chengdu, China. That same year, we established an office in the USA, and we are planning to open one more office in Japan. Currently, the USA is our biggest market and Japan is the second. China only represents a small share of our whole turnover, but the potential is high: China has a large population with rich resources.

We believe Chinese market will become more important in our field, and we would like to share our experiences with Chinese companies. We are fully confident in our services and technology in our market, but although we are already biggest CO2 sensor producer in the world, we are not thriving here in China.

Why did you choose Chengdu as your China location?

In my opinion, Chengdu is a very attractive city in which to reside: it has a nice climate, friendly people and tasty food. The local government gave a lot of assistance in the beginning, helping us with the setting up of our office. They took me around all the city’s districts and showed many potential locations and tried to help us understand more about this city. Finally, we found a place that met our expectations. Over the past five years we have made big improvements, both in sales and in the organisation of our Chengdu office.

What is the biggest challenge for SMEs in China?

I think the biggest challenge is finding loyal employees. It is very difficult to find the right people who are willing to do a good job. We have experienced many situations where our employees have left too easily. I don’t think this is good for our long-term operation in China, so we are trying find different solutions to hold on to our staff. Our hope is that everyone that joins us will feel like they are growing up with our company.

What is the biggest challenge for SMEs in your particular sector?

Being able to offer the best products at the right prices.

Are you aware of EU-funded support projects for SMEs and have you ever used any?

I’m afraid I don’t have many knowledge about this.

SenseAir is an innovation-based sensor company and a world-leading manufacturer of infrared carbon dioxide (CO2) sensors and controllers. One of our major markets is building automation where SenseAir sensors control individual fans, dampers, valves etc. In addition, complete air-handling and air-conditioning units help us create a better indoor environment and energy savings.