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A breath of spring: Sowing seeds for a fruitful year at Vallourec

With the end of the winter season, everyone in China took time off to enjoy Spring Festival, held this year from February 9 to 17. Also known as Chinese New Year, the holiday celebrates life and is a key moment to lay the groundwork for growth throughout the coming year.


As part of Vallourec’s diversity, equity, and inclusion program, We are Vallourec, we are sharing a series of articles to explore various cultures across the countries where the Group operates. Vallourec Tianda’s Gan Zhang reflects on ways in which the company practices the values carried by Spring Festival year-round. 

China’s most prominent holiday, Spring Festival is celebrated in many Asian countries at the start of the Lunar New Year, from February 9 to 17.

Gan Zhang is Quality and Technical Center Manager at the Vallourec Tianda Chuzhou mill in China. He explains how everyone in the country is encouraged to return home during this rare long holiday. “Normally, Chinese people work very hard. We don’t have many official holidays,” says Zhang, who first joined Vallourec in 2012. “So, during Spring Festival, we stop everything to give everyone a good rest.

Spring Festival is typically spent eating well with loved ones and visiting temples for prayer – all against a vibrant backdrop of red. Spring Festival is not only the most highly anticipated holiday in China, but also the most colorful, as red is displayed everywhere as a symbol of luck and joy. It’s traditional, for example, for friends and family to exchange bright red envelopes filled with money as wishes for good fortune. Other distinguishing symbols include the dragon, representing strength and vitality, as well as the lion, which signifies power and stability. Dancers dressed as lions are often invited to join celebrations, as their presence promises the arrival of good luck.

A culture of care

At the heart of Spring Festival is an ethos of inclusion and equity. During this festival, everyone receives time off to sow seeds for a fortuitous future. At Vallourec, managers like Gan strive to maintain these values beyond Spring Festival and throughout the year. “What’s most important to us is safety,” says Gan. “That means everyone is cared for.

To this end, managers like Gan visit factories regularly to experience workplace conditions through employees’ eyes and identify possibilities for improvement. Drawing on his experience in Europe – Gan spent several years in Germany – he also holds frequent one-to-one meetings with his direct reports, a time to voice any and all needs. “Transparency creates trust,” says Gan. “If you can trust people, you can achieve anything together. We offer lots of resources to help people grow in the company.


He recalls when, after Vallourec brought Tianda into International Group in 2016, he saw an opportunity to make a local employee feel at home. “This colleague was a Tianda lab operator but held a Masters in Metal Science,” says Gan. “I put her in touch with our experts in Europe, and she quickly developed her knowledge of the material – in fact, she’s now a level-one expert. Experts at Vallourec are ranked from level one up to level three, within the framework of the Vallourec’s Experts Career program.” 

Building the foundation for success

Leveraging the strengths of its teams, and in line with the “value over volume” objective of the New Vallourec plan, the Group recently launched a major strategic transformation aimed at the premiumization of its Chinese production capabilities.

The company gave priority to enhancing its threading capacities with the use of ultra-modern equipment in its Eastern Hemisphere centers.

This strategy also led Vallourec to open up its services to overseas markets. While previously most of Vallourec’s Chinese plant sales circulated in a competitive local market, the company is now exporting worldwide.

“If you check my calendar, I’m meeting with Chinese colleagues in the morning and spending the afternoon with Europe or the Middle East,” says Gan. “At Vallourec, we’re combining cultures to create innovation.

To nurture this cross-cultural momentum, the company regularly organizes face-to-face meetings in the Group’s various countries, fostering enhanced communication within teams and facilitating a fluid exchange of ideas and best practices.


Inviting luck in the year ahead

More than a holiday, Spring Festival marks the start of a new season. It’s a moment for planting seeds that will gradually give way to new life. In other terms, it’s an opportunity to intentionally put things in place to ensure a happy, successful future.

Vallourec team members like Gan understand that this approach is possible at any point in the year – that even small gestures of cooperation and trust blossom into amazing outcomes. Gan’s predictions for Vallourec, born under the harmonious sign of the Goat? “It will be a good year,” he says. “In any case, you never predict a bad year!