Dr. Tei-Fu Chen Shares His Story in Taiwan Media
The following content is based on a translation of an article appearing in the Commercial Times , a leading Chinese-language financial newspaper, and similar articles published in the China Times and Yahoo News Taiwan.
Dr. Tei-Fu Chen: Building a Sunrider Brand That Lasts for Centuries
Passing on the art of herbal science
The 71-year-old founder of Sunrider, Dr. Tei-Fu Chen, is famous for his entrepreneurial story. In 1982, he borrowed some money from his father-in-law to start a business. After 37 years, Sunrider has successfully become a world-renowned brand name. Dr. Tei-Fu Chen has also become one of the richest Chinese in the world. Sunrider’s operations now span across more than 50 countries and regions, with thousands of stores and direct sales business owners. In 2017, Sunrider’s business model in Taiwan expanded into online sales, retail stores, and new O2O [online to offline] digital marketing models.
Dr. Tei-Fu Chen also entered the hotel industry in 2006. The Sunrider Group owns the Sunworld Dynasty™ Hotel Beijing, Sunworld Dynasty™ Hotel Taipei, and Sunworld™ Hotel Beijing, in addition to St. Ermin’s Hotel in London and the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.
Tei-Fu was frail as a child growing up. He was often bullied by other children and beaten up in fights. He was also teased and called “tofu.” Somehow, he found interest in reading. Learning new knowledge from books appealed to him more than winning fights. After graduating from Kaohsiung Medical University, he went to the United States to pursue a doctorate degree in pharmacy. He and his wife, Dr. Oi-Lin Chen, a U.S.-licensed medical doctor, founded Sunrider in a small office in Utah in 1982. Sunrider has now been in business for 37 years.
In the 1990s, Sunrider was the first direct-selling company to enter the Chinese market. In less than two years, the monthly revenue in China exceeded US$50 million, and the annual revenue was over US$600 million. However, in 1998, the Chinese government banned multi-level marketing. As a result, Sunrider changed its business model to retail sales in franchise stores. Undaunted, Dr. Chen said, “I believe everything that happened in the past was arranged by God. For us, coming to this world means more than just being dust in the universe. Everything that happens in life can be a good lesson, no matter if the experience is good or bad, they all are very precious. I have much to be grateful for. Life is short; don’t focus on and remember the wrongdoings of others. Instead, look forward to a brighter future.”
Dr. Chen gave examples of looking ahead: “World-renowned brands such as Chanel and Louis Vuitton have been recognized for more than 100 years. I hope Sunrider can also be a century-old brand that passes down from generation to generation, carrying forward the art of herbal science.”
Dr. Tei-Fu Chen emphasized that building a brand can take as little as a couple of years to as long as decades. However, the reputation of a brand can be destroyed overnight. Therefore, Sunrider develops every new product with the highest standards of quality. Sunrider is connected to a university laboratory 24 hours a day; if the ingredients of a certain product don’t match the company’s exacting standards, Sunrider will not manufacture it. “Simply put, if my family and I won’t eat it, then we won’t make it.”
Dr. Chen has five children, a medical doctor, two with Juris Doctor degrees, an organic chemist, and a computer management system expert. He also has 19 grandchildren, all part of his large extended family. 71-year-old Dr. Chen has waved goodbye to the “tofu” of his youth, as well as the ups and downs of his middle age. Now, he is embracing a life blessed with good fortune, true to the meaning of his name, “Tei-Fu.”