Entrepreneur Frank Zhou building business in P.E.I. and China

Jim Day
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Chinese entrepreneur Frank Zhou embraces Prince Edward Island for many reasons: the culture, the beauty of the place, the friendliness of the people and the opportunities for business, to name a prominent few.

The attachment has grown strong since the 35-year-old Zhou and his wife Sherry Huang first moved here in 2004.

Now the pair has further cemented their tie to the province with the arrival of their first child, a healthy baby boy named Jayden that weighed into the world last week at a solid 10 pounds and three ounces.

“Very blessed,’’ says the proud poppa during an interview in his large, stylish office located above the Anne of Green Gables Chocolates store on Queen Street in Charlottetown.

“Since this true Islander was born definitely I think we are more anchored in this province no doubt. P.E.I. is such a great place to raise a kid.’’

As for Zhou, his grandparents raised him in China - a commonplace practice in this state with a strictly enforced one-child policy.

While being an only child was often lonely, Zhou learned quickly to be independent. He was also taught to be sincere, honest, true and nice - the latter quality being one he considers key in enjoying ongoing business success.

Zhou started painting at age four and won silver as a teenager in a national competition of traditional Chinese painting. He aspired to be an artist or an architect.

Still holding a passion for painting, he is building an art studio in his large Stratford home that houses a number of attractive items imported from China including a beautiful wooden table intricately crafted specifically for the purpose of serving tea.

Zhou was a top student throughout high school in China. He came to Canada at age 20 to study at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver where he earned a degree in mathematics and met his future wife.

The couple went back to China together before settling in P.E.I. a decade ago when Huang was put in charge of a consulting company.

A couple years later, the pair started their own consulting company called Sunrise Group in both P.E.I. and China.

The business has blossomed to include a software development and graphic design company, a business development and management consulting firm, an English as a second language program, and a business called Anne in China that translated Anne of Green Gables into mandarin, selling 35,000 copies to date.

Most recently, Zhou decided to take a big dip into ice cream, helping bring the first Cows Creamery store to China.

The bold move to open close to 5,000 square feet of business space to sell Cows ice cream and merchandise (carefully tweaked to the tastes and fashion senses of the Chinese market) may seem to some like a nervy roll of the dice.

Zhou insists the move was in keeping with his cautious approach to business. He spent seven months doing in depth analyses of trends and data before moving ahead on the business venture.

“I’m not a risk taker and everything I do I need to prepare well,’’ he says.

He and his wife have steadily grown Sunrise Group into a successful collage of companies that employ close to 100 people split evenly between operations in P.E.I. and China.

Although he is CEO and president of Sunrise Group, Zhou considers his wife an equal partner in the business.

“We consider husband and wife life partner,’’ he notes.

“Life partner means you are partnering on everything...if you can partner on the business and you can get along well, that is a bonus - and we have that bonus. Very, very lucky that I have that bonus.’’

Zhou says he and Huang have different skill sets that blend well in partnering in Sunrise Group.

He is certainly more on the move than his wife, splitting his time between China and P.E.I.

Zhou, who has participated in several trade missions to China including acting as the logistics service provider to the Council of Federation Premiers’ Mission to China, hops on a plane every second month for a flight that sees him needing to adjust to the 12-hour time zone difference between China and P.E.I.

“It’s very tiring,’’ he says.

“So jetlag is the hardest thing that you deal with.’’          

Despite his impressive business success to date, Zhou feels - and hopes — he has only scratched the surface.

He leans on advice from business mentors worldwide. Some of them, he notes, are very famous businessmen, but he would rather not name them.

“I think (age) 35 is a time to be ready to be more mature and more successful,’’ he says.

“I have my goals but whether we can achieve it or not depends on how hard you work at it. There are no free lunches.’’

Organizations: Sunrise Group, Anne of Green Gables Chocolates, Simon Fraser University

Geographic location: China, Prince Edward Island, Queen Street Charlottetown Stratford Canada Vancouver Green Gables

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Recent comments

  • CFA
    December 01, 2014 - 00:48

    Great job Mr. Zhou! Very encouraging and impressive story. We need more Doer than a Talker like Mr. Zhou in this province. I think he is a great promoter for PEI. Keep up the good work!

  • Chinese islander
    November 30, 2014 - 10:56

    I hope that more islanders are aware of more business opportunities in China rather than somewhere else. PEI should be widely open to China. Remember that China got a big benifit through open police. Why would we still debate about it now. It is high time that we shoud take action. PEI is very behind other provinces. IF we can seek some markets in China, we could catch up with other provinces. In additon, there is a bottleneck for PEI's economy is that inadequate population or people living on the island cause servere lack of workfore and manpower. As such, we need to introduce more immigrants for PEI. Of course, we need to encourage families to have more babies just like The Zhou's . Young couples alway enjoy their own leisure time and confort, but they forgot to have bobies to be born that is essential biological role and social responsibilities they should. It is a shame for a women who do not have babies to contribute to the sociaty ( sorry, I forgot how to spell the word, my english skills are limited) in which we live. I hope new premier will listen to this suggestion.

  • rudolf
    November 29, 2014 - 17:29

    buyer beware ----

  • Cromwell
    November 29, 2014 - 11:12

    Quite a cloyingly sweet, sycophantic piece, similar to an earlier one by Shane Ross, with nary a word about Mr. Zhou's highly profitable participation in the PNP program.

    • Go Ahead
      November 29, 2014 - 14:01

      Why don't you go ahead and give us the details of that instead of just mouthing off?

    • Welcome aboard
      November 29, 2014 - 14:57

      A welcome addition to the Island. Mr. Zhou and his wife Sherry brought in 10's even 100's of millions in through the PNP program only to see it squandered by the current government. She was the go-between at MRSB. He is one of the leaders in the Chinese Community on PEI and is known by all. 2 Elections away from have 25-50% of our elected representatives being new Canadians from the program. In less than 5 years the boundaries of our ridings are to be rezoned giving Charlottetown/Stratford/Cornwall more and more power electionwise. We have 1 more election to strengthen the Rural areas. ONE! Folks, very simple, the style of government he grew up with is 2-tiered. The have's and the have nots. Rural or lower income Islanders need to choose wisely this time who they put it. Sorry Wade, your are not the guy. None of the Ministers, not Ms Simmonds. Someone who works for a living please step forward or we are toast.

  • Ifda Shoefits
    November 29, 2014 - 10:31

    I say Frank Zhou for premier! Seriously, if we had more Islanders as proud and motivated as Mr. Zhou, we be in a lot better shape.

    • Jokingman
      December 07, 2014 - 19:27

      U r right. Kiss their as. They may throw a decent work to you for 10 dollars a day

  • April
    November 29, 2014 - 09:05

    Very impressive. I have never met Mr.Zhou but can't help but admire him after reading this article. Thank you for bringing employment and investing in PEI. Congratulations on the birth of son.