Por Juan Emilio Ballesteros
Who is she?
For Rosa Guillén, the goal as a manager is that GREE becomes a benchmark in terms of technology, energy efficiency, and respect for the environment in Spain and France. GREE’s history is marked by big figures. It offers up to 7,000
models in 20 different product categories. Over the last 20 years, it has donated more than $11 million to promote social wellbeing, education, and disaster relief. The company researches, designs, develops and commercializes highquality
air conditioners with a clear commitment to state of the art sustainability-oriented technology.
GREE Electric Appliances Inc., the world’s largest air conditioning manufacturer, arrived in Spain last year, where it sales a range of products that stand out for their state-of-theart technology, maximum energy efficiency, and competitive price. Founded in Zhuhai (China) in 1991, GREE is the only Chinese air conditioning brand classified as a World Brand. It has three RDI centers, nine product development centers, 300 labs, over 5,000 engineers, and eight manufacturing plants in China,
Vietnam, Pakistan, and Brazil capable of producing 30 million units a year for the residential and commercial markets. In this
interview, the head of GREE Spain Rosa Guillén reviews the outcome of the company’s first year in the country and the
future projects for a brand that manufactures 1 out of every 3 AC units worldwide.
What is your assessment after the company’s first year in Spain?
We have been present in the Spanish market for a year and a half and are very satisfied. We started with the professional sector, as it has the technical know-how that enables it to quickly identify quality technology and take advantage
of its differential value. The reception has been wonderful and professionals are having a very good response, since after
purchasing a unit they come back and make another order, and a repeat order indicates there is trust and satisfaction
with the product. Furthermore the orders are increasing in quantity and type of product. The HVAC market is a tough
one, especially in countries such as Spain, where it is very mature. Finding a niche in said market is very important, but
also difficult, and we are achieving this.
You arrived to the country promoting your inverter technology, but where you really innovated was with the
PV direct driven inverter centrifugal chiller. What is it? How does it contribute to saving energy?
Is it efficient? GREE is the world’s first manufacturer to develop this type of product. The chiller is a very powerful industrial
machine that allows cooling and heating a liquid to air condition large spaces. The novelty of this equipment is that is has been
modified to work with PV power. It is a highly efficient system that saves up to 40 percent in energy, an energy that mostly comes from the sun, captured directly through photovoltaic panels. It includes a predictive software based on historic data that allows adjusting the energy source – whether the sun or the grid – to optimize it. We have also adapted this technology to the
high-performance VRF (Variable Refrigerant Flow) inverter systems, which are widely used.
What about the R32 refrigerant? Does it have a lower environmental impact?
The R32 is the new refrigerant we recently started using in GREE units. Among its advantages is the fact that it is more efficient and environmentally-friendly, as it needs lower volumes of refrigerant and it can get to the desired temperature in a shorter
amount of time. The tendency is to reduce consumption, upgrading the equipment’s efficiency and using more environmentally-friendly refrigerants.
What novelty does equipment like the U-Crown contribute, apart from Smart Wi-Fi? What about the new
The U-Crown is the “crown jewel.” It has integrated Wi-Fi and a double layer compressor. It is a GREE technological innovation that allows greater efficiency at the moment of air conditioning the room. The compressor does not always
work at full capacity, but rather adjusts the intensity according to the needs. The Lomo+ has two variants: the traditional Lomo+ with R410 refrigerant and the Lomo+ with R32 refrigerant, with which we offer home application equipment that uses R32 and also has WiFi. This model also has an inner belt that enables it to heat with exterior temperatures of up to -20 °C,
and filters specifically used to purify the air and generate ions. All this in a unit offering features that so far were not
available for these types of machines in the home line.
This year you will also launch Shiny, a line of portable AC units. What advantages will it bring? How to decide between an installation and a portable unit?
Portable models have had a tremendous acceptance in the market. It represents a more seasonal and impulsive purchase, but a very important one in Spain. Their great advantage is that there is no need for installation and they can be moved from one site to another, as well as having a lower price. Their limitations include lower power level and less functionality.
The company manufactures equipment for private, commercial, and industrial clients. Which sector has
offered better results?
All sectors are equally important for the company’s income statement. The home line offers volume, but the industrial line
has an important project that could open more doors in the future. At the moment, they offer equal results. They are both very
According to the China Daily, GREE recently entered the sustainable mobility business because its air conditioning division was not at its best. Is this true? Or are you trying to diversify production to
become more competitive?
It is about diversifying. Within GREE’s policy oriented towards innovation, technology development, energy efficiency,
and environmental protection, electric cars are in the same vein. GREE invests 5 percent of its global revenue on RDI. We
are continuously developing innovation and new technologies and electric vehicles are a part of this goal that, additionally, allows us to further protect the environment. To have a notion of its dimensions, it is important to know that
GREE has three large investigation centers and has registered 27,000 patents, of which 11,000 are innovation
patents. That is around 22 patents per day. GREE has already tried and failed with mobile phones. Does globalization entail higher complexity in the markets?
Globalization entails new opportunities, but also higher complexity. You have to adapt to each market’s needs because
they are not all the same. The first time I tackled the French market I came with a Spanish vision, where air conditioning is
cold, cold, cold… and when I got there I was told that the demand was heat, heat, heat… you have to adapt to the needs presented by each market. In that sense, little by little Spain is changing its model towards Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) and also aerothermal technology.
The market has been dominated by Japanese manufacturers for years. South Koreans also have their
eyes on Europe. What do Chinese products bring to the table other than their lower prices?
GREE invests €1 billion on innovation every year. This helps us keep constantly innovating and seeking solutions. In fact, this is evident since GREE is contributing solutions that the Japanese and South Korean brands do not offer. We have 14,000 models, a wide portfolio that helps us offer the best solutions for each need and each country. Some of these are products that other manufacturers do not have, and thus we can offer the largest range of solutions in the market.
It is important to have a technical support that can solve any contingency that may arise. Do you have a support network that is in accordance with your leadership?
Yes, of course. If possible, we want to increase the brand’s reliability, by offering a front-line service, both in the technical
and logistic aspects. A technical support capable of providing a precise answer in real time. To achieve this, we provided many
installation technicians with the necessary training to solve the situations that may arise while installing the new equipment
and not allow this to represent an obstacle to the company’s development in Spain.
Forbes magazine appointed GREE president Dong Mingzhu as China’s most prominent executive in 2017.
She started her career as a company salesperson and has not taken a day off in 26 years. What can we learn
from her example?
This is an example of rewarding an effort. This shows not just the president’s professional capacities, but also how effort
and dedication pay off in the end.
The Royal Decree 115/2017 with regard to handling fluorinated gases brings the European regulation to the Spanish market. How will this influence the business?
This regulation establishes that importers and professionals that work with fluorinate gases must reduce tons of CO2
equivalents. This volume will decrease year on year, according to certain indexes, which will facilitate gradually substituting refrigerants like the R410 with others like the R32 and other alternatives. In the case of GREE, we are doing well because we already have many units with R32 refrigerant.
What are your plans for the future both in Spain and the rest of the European Union?
In Spain, our main goal is to consolidate our position. We are satisfied with the results obtained thus far but wish to continue to grow and to this end, we must consolidate GREE as an innovative, technological, and reliable brand so that HVAC professionals consider us a benchmark in the industry. At a European level, we are present in France, where we follow this same policy. The challenge is to become a benchmark in a short amount of time, especially in terms of innovation and