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Traceability丨The development history of Guangzhou Dongfang Sports Equipment Factory

May 11,2024.

At the end of the 19th century, with the introduction of Christianity, table tennis also set foot in Guangzhou for the first time with the help of the church. At that time, church schools such as True Light and Peiying were the first to introduce this sport and include it in extracurricular sports activities. In the fifth year of the Republic of China (1916), a special table tennis room was set up in the newly built gymnasium of the Guangzhou YMCA. It was not only provided for students to practice, but also open to young people in society to hold practice and competition activities. Its influence gradually spread, and some schools and social groups suit. Table tennis took root and developed in Guangzhou, gradually forming a widespread social movement trend.

In 1952, New China, which was in desperate need of revitalization, established the National Sports Commission, with the founding marshal He Long as the first director. In the same year, the Chinese National Table Tennis Team was established, and Chairman Mao Zedong inscribed the 12 characters "Develop Sports and Enhance People's Physique" for the sports undertakings of New China. As a result, a nationwide sports revival movement began in China.

①The content of this article is compiled based on "Guangzhou Municipal Chronicle" Volume 5, page 306, "Historical Development of Oriental Sports Equipment Factory" and oral materials written by retired engineer Zhang Xiting.

②Compiled based on Volume 15, Page 84 of "Guangzhou Municipal Chronicle". This is also the earliest authoritative record of the introduction of table tennis to China.

As early as the late Qing Dynasty, more than ten self-employed businesses operating and producing sporting goods had emerged in the area of Wenming Road and Wende Road in Yuexiu District, Guangzhou. These self-employed businesses have a small production scale and mainly produce basketball hoops, parallel wood and other wooden sports equipment. In 1954, Guangzhou's sports equipment industry ushered in the cooperative era. Individual handicraft households formed three sports equipment production cooperatives with a total of 109 members. After adjustments, only Yongjian Sports Equipment Co., Ltd. (the origin of Doublefish Company, hereinafter referred to as "Yongjian") at No. 185 Wenming Road remained. With its 43 members, this company has a small production site and backward equipment. Next, adhering to the spirit and ideal of "sustainable struggle, strengthening the people and rejuvenating the country", we produce sports equipment used for school teaching and training.

In 1958, Yongjian conformed to the changes of the times and was restructured into an enterprise owned by the whole people and renamed Yongjian Sports Equipment Factory. However, the system of ownership by the whole people did not fully meet the development needs of Yongjian. After four years of practice and exploration, Yongjian decided to return to collective ownership in 1962 and restored its original name to Yongjian Sports Equipment Co., Ltd.

In 1966, in order to change the dilemma of scattered production sites and backward conditions, and to better support the development of Guangzhou Institute of Physical Education, Yongjian decided to move its production base to the vicinity of Guangzhou Institute of Physical Education in Tianhe District.

In 1968, Yongjian actively responded to the government's call and moved to the industrial cluster area of Guangzhou at that time - Paolou Gang (today's Yanzigang) on Industrial Avenue in Haizhu District. It expanded the factory and started large-scale industrial production, and changed its name to Guangzhou Sports Equipment Co., Ltd. .

③In the 1950s and 1960s, some collectively owned enterprises in China were often named after the word "社", which was common in rural areas and some small industrial organizations.

④According to the "Guangzhou City Chronicle", Yongjian mainly produced table tennis tables, goats, parallel bars, ball stands, jumping boxes and jumping mats for school use at that time. It also produced military training equipment and furniture, with a total industrial output value of 100,000 yuan. In 1957, the production scale gradually expanded and the number of varieties increased to 50.

⑤According to retired engineer Zhang Xiting's recollection, after Yongjian moved to the vicinity of Guangzhou Institute of Physical Education, it will be easier for the school to repair sports equipment, and it will also be easier for students of the Institute to use various types of sports equipment. This is the earliest record of "fusion of physical education and physical education" in the history of Doublefish.

In December of this year, the Guangzhou Sports Equipment Club merged with the Guangzhou Cricket Club, the Hongmian Badminton Racket Club and the Construction Engineering Picture Club to establish the Oriental Sports Goods Cooperation Factory, marking the gathering and coordinated development of Guangzhou's new sports industry forces.

Oriental Sports Goods Cooperation Factory Business License

Guangzhou Sports Equipment Co., Ltd., which was incorporated into the cooperative factory in 1970, was renamed Oriental Sports Equipment Factory. In April 1975, the Oriental Sports Goods Cooperative Factory underwent a major organizational structure adjustment and was split into three independently operated entities: Guangzhou Oriental Sports Equipment Factory, Guangzhou Table Tennis Board Factory, and Guangzhou Badminton Racquet Factory.

The vase-shaped table tennis table with wooden legs produced by Dongfang Sports Equipment Factory was a standard product of many schools’ physical education equipment from the 1960s to the 1980s

⑥The main business of Construction Engineering Drawing Agency is the drawing and copying of professional drawings.

Business license of Guangzhou Dongfang Sports Equipment Factory after independent operation

After the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in 1978, China's national sports industry ushered in a new era of revival and development. Guangzhou Dongfang Sports Equipment Factory (hereinafter referred to as "Dongfang Factory") quickly seized the opportunity of reform and opening up, optimized the management system, reshaped the organizational structure, strengthened product technology and quality management, standardized material supply and production processes, and strictly controlled process safety. Comprehensively carry out enterprise reform.

Since 1987, with the support of relevant national, provincial and municipal departments, Dongfang Factory has invested 1.05 million yuan⑦ in technological transformation, purchased advanced mechanical equipment and testing instruments, set up automatic production lines for wood drying rooms and table spraying, and renovated workshops. Significantly improved production scale and capabilities. These measures have greatly improved product quality and market competitiveness, making Dongfang Factory a designated factory for the production of sports equipment by the Ministry of Light Industry and the National Sports Commission, and rated as a "provincial advanced enterprise", specializing in the production of various competitions, training, fitness and group products. There are more than 80 kinds of sports equipment used in the activities, registered with "Doublefish Brand", "Evergreen Brand" and "Eagle Brand", which has injected new vitality into the development of China's sports industry.

⑦Retired engineer Zhang Xiting recalled that at that time, the government provided an interest-free loan of 1.05 million yuan to support the development of Dongfang Factory to increase production capacity. The Dongfang Factory's annual sales revenue in 1987 was 2.6407 million yuan, so the investment was a huge one.

The site of Oriental Sports Equipment Factory in the 1990s

Table tennis equipment product catalog

Ball equipment catalog

In 1987, as the Sixth National Games was about to be held in Guangdong Province, Dongfang Factory faced unprecedented technical challenges. With the strong support of superior departments, Dongfang Factory bravely took on the important task of developing and producing some key sports equipment for this sports event. This move greatly promoted the factory's technological innovation and productivity improvement. After nearly a year of unremitting efforts, Dongfang Factory successfully delivered 27 types of sports equipment for a total of 871 events, successfully completing the important tasks of the National Sports Commission and relevant provincial and municipal departments. The equipment provided includes folding table tennis tables, aluminum water polo goals and handball goals, etc., all of which have reached the advanced international standards of the 1980s.

The table tennis table, as the main product of the factory, has evolved from the original wooden leg design to iron legs through continuous technological iteration, and finally developed into an integrated folding third-generation product. Since the successful trial production of the "Doublefish PT2 Folding Table", it has won wide acclaim in various large-scale competitions at home and abroad.

In 1987, the Sixth National Games was held in Guangdong. Doublefish table tennis equipment made its debut in the top domestic competitions for the first time, providing a full set of competition equipment including table tennis and tables for the event.

The Doublefish folding steel structure used in the 6th National Games to lower the table tennis table

At the end of 1988, the "Doublefish PT2" folding table was officially approved by the ITTF as a table for international competitions, realizing the long-cherished wish of generations of Dongfang Factory since its establishment. This not only won Dongfang Factory an international reputation, but also marked that the Doublefish table will officially enter the highest stage of international competitive sports.

On November 4, 1989, the National Sports Equipment and Sports Clothing Conference and the "Sports Contribution Award" award ceremony were jointly sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Light Industry, the Ministry of Textile Industry and the National Sports Commission. At this important meeting, Dongfang Factory won the "Sports Contribution Award" for its outstanding contribution to sports. This is not only an affirmation of Dongfang Factory’s long-term efforts and outstanding achievements, but also a significant recognition of its outstanding influence in the sports equipment industry.

Sports Contribution Award Medal

He Zhenliang, Deputy Director of the National Sports Commission and Vice Chairman of the International Olympic Committee, awarded the Sports Contribution Award medal to the representatives of Dongfang Factory

In 1990, the aluminum alloy water polo goal, handball goal and portable scoreboard manufactured by Dongfang Factory were designated as the official competition equipment of the 11th Asian Games. This marks the first time that Dongfang Factory's sports equipment has demonstrated its outstanding performance in an international competition.

From 1991 to 1995, in the tide of economic reform, Dongfang Factory actively promoted product innovation and upgrading in order to enhance corporate competitiveness and expand market share. After years of unremitting efforts, Dongfang Factory has achieved a revolutionary upgrade of table tennis table products: it has eliminated the glulam core board wooden foot table with long production cycle and complicated process, and comprehensively launched the table tennis table with MDF table top and all-metal tripod. A combination of multiple table tennis tables. This technological innovation has significantly improved the production efficiency of the product and made breakthrough progress in the quality and output of the table tennis table. The production of table tennis tables has therefore entered a new era.

⑧According to the "Guangzhou City Chronicle", Dongfang Factory launched the second generation of glued table tennis tables in 1973, replacing the original tile-type table.

In 1995, the 43rd World Table Tennis Championships was held in Tianjin. The "Doublefish Table" independently developed and produced by Dongfang Factory became the official equipment of the top international competition for the first time, witnessing the historical moment when the Chinese table tennis team returned to its peak.