Dong Mingzhu, the legendary chairwoman of Gree Electric Appliances, has become the head a new joint venture formed by Gree, Yinlong Energy and four other companies, The Paper reported.

Guochuang Energy Internet Innovation Center Guangdong was set up in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, on Aug. 20 with a registered capital of 100 million yuan (US$14.1 million), according to corporate information platform Tianyancha.

The new firm will mainly research, develop and sell energy routers, photovoltaic gear and new energy equipment in the local area.

Zhuhai-based Gree is the JV’s biggest shareholder with a 75% stake. CRRC Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive owns 8%; Yinlong Energy, Dongguan Zhongrui Intelligent Equipment and Zhejiang Sanhua Intelligent Controls have 5% each; Nanjing Guochen DC Power Distribution Technology owns the remaining 2%.

Gree and Yinlong, which is controlled by Dong, frequently team up in the new energy field. Gree moved to acquire electric bus maker Yinlong for 13 billion yuan (US$1.83 billion) in 2016 but it faced unexpected opposition from small- and medium-sized investors.

Dong then took a stake in Yinlong in her own name, becoming its second-largest shareholder. She later took control after its largest shareholder was taken to court for embezzling the firm.

A wholly-owned Gree unit, Yinlong and Huatai Huineng Beijing Energy Technology jointly invested 30 million yuan to set up Zhuhai Hengqin Gree Huatai Energy Development on Aug. 28.

Holding 51%, 25%and 24% of it respectively, the JV will develop technologies for new energy, energy conservation, and energy storage systems. Wang Jingdong, Gree’s board secretary, is its chairman.

According to Business Insider, Dong is considered by many pundits as China’s most successful businesswoman, as the leader of the US$22 billion air-conditioning giant Gree.

She also allegedly has not taken a single day of paid holiday leave in a 27-year tenure at the company, according to Quartz.

In China, she is famously known as “Sister Dong” and her career path has certainly been an interesting one.

She arrived at Gree as a salesperson in 1990, when annual sales were suffering, and quickly rose up the ranks as she marked herself out as a fiercely hard worker.

Fast-forward 26 years, and Gree is the largest air-conditioning manufacturer in the world, its stock value having grown by 2,300% under her leadership.

Sales of Gree units account for two in every five sold in the country.

Described by the New York Times as “one of the toughest businesswomen in China,” her formidable example has won her the loyal devotion of the firm’s 70,000-strong army of employees.

One employee told the Telegraph: “She’s been through everything herself. We never dare to say that something is impossible in front of her. We must all have her will to succeed.”

“Where Sister Dong walks, no grass grows” and “when she chews you up, she doesn’t even spit out the bones” are two judgments made by competitors reported by the New York Times.

According to the Business Insider, she refuses to apologise for her focus — her 2006 autobiography was titled “Regretless Pursuit” — but it has come at a personal cost. She began work at the company as a widow after her husband died in 1984 and she left her infant son to be raised by his grandmother.