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How a Vietnamese Family Business Skyrocketed

When the United States left Vietnam in 1975, it left behind a nation wracked with inflation, corruption, and an identity crisis.

The country staggered through the 1980s as a socialist-capitalist country – it tried socialism first, then modified it with capitalism. For the families that lived through the early post-American years in Vietnam, it was one crisis after another.  Yet one family not only survived and thrived, it built one of the largest businesses in Southeast Asia from scratch. 

“My father started out with nothing more than two rice bowls and four chopsticks,”

says Phuong Uyen Tran in her new book Competing with Giants, published by Forbes. Her father, Tran Qui Thanh, is chairman and CEO of the beverage company Tan Hiep Phat (THP).  He turned down the offer from Coca-Cola.  Thanh’s company now supplies beverages, including herbal and green teas, sports and energy drinks, soya milk and purified water across Vietnam plus 16 other countries, including China and Australia. 

It is Vietnam’s largest family-owned manufacturer in the “Fast Moving Consumer Goods” category, employing more than 5,000 staff members nationwide. The company grew so large that Coca-Cola wanted to buy it for more than $2 billion. 

“He persevered because he had the tenacity and placed his trust in his core values and people – his business associates, employees, and customers.” 

“It is never easy to compete with giants,” says Phuong, “let alone face them down.”

But her family legacy is a story that proves David can indeed compete with (and even outperform) Goliath. Watching her father turn down a sum of money most could never dream to see was an event that shaped Tran’s entire philosophy from that day forward.

What has Phuong learned from the family values her father always applies in business? Check them out below.

5 Family Values to Business Success:

  • Create an authentic local product.  Authentic local products are hard to beat.  That is because locals can beat the big guys in four critical areas – product, price, promotion, and place.
  • Govern growth. Many companies on an upward trajectory just assume that their success will always continue.  The best companies prepare for the inevitable ups and downs of business by growing slowly and methodically.
  • Motivate employees and foster community spirit. As companies get bigger, they must focus on how their employees work with each other, as well as senior management and customers. 
  • Adhere to standards. The best companies embrace standards rather than try to find ways to cut corners.  Her company adopted international standards for her products even though they were not forced to do so.
  • Take responsibility. The ultimate responsibility lies with each person at the business, regardless of if it is the owner, manager or employee.

Whether you start with rice bowls or owning the entire rice factory, scaling a business requires strategy, discipline and good old fashion family values.

About Phuong Uyen Tran

Phuong Uyen Tran, the author of Competing with Giants, is deputy CEO of the THP Beverage Group, a leading beverage company in Vietnam that was founded by her father. She is responsible for the company’s marketing, public relations, and CSR programs nationally and across Vietnam’s 63 provinces. She also leads THP’s international marketing programs across 16 countries where THP’s products are distributed including Canada and China.

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