Entrepreneur Dang Van Thanh: Imprint of a pioneer

TTC Group Chairman, Mr. Dang Van Thanh, does not hesitate to choose the common industries like others but when he saw the opportunity and he would dedicate his passion as well “out of the box” way of working to become a leader.

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Entrepreneur Dang Van Thanh

Pioneering imprints

The passing stormy period in Sacombank could restraint the pride when Mr. Dang Van Thanh recalled the past. From Chairman of Thanh Cong Credit Cooperative in 1989, Mr. Thanh joined Sacombank Bank to establish Sacombank in 2 years later and built this bank to become a joint stock commercial bank with development of the largest retail segment in Vietnam at that time.

Belonging to the first entrepreneur generation, after the reform period, Mr. Thanh realized many opportunities from the open market.

 “At that time, I had many business opportunities and became a pioneer in the industry when operating Sacombank, making Sacombank the first bank to be listed in 2006. At that time, listing was considered as a classy game”, Mr. Thanh recalled as he never stopped being proud of Sacombank.

Sacombank is not only the first public bank to be listed, under Thanh's time, it was also the first bank to set up a fund management company and a finance leasing company.

5 years ago, Mr. Thanh was interested in renewable energy sector, because he said that this is an inevitable trend of the world moving forward to environment-friendly factors as well as endless energy sources. Although, he is not the first entrepreneur to invest in this sector, the reputation of an entrepreneur from the golden imprint of Sacombank has made a series of financial institutions willing to pour capital for investment.

The 60-year-old entrepreneur is excited by the good news that recently the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and FMO would pour USD 60 million by the end of this year for this sector of TTC and the planned capital can be raised up to USD100 million.

Mr. Thanh believes that he was lucky when both of his banking and energy sectors gain attention from international financial institutions. In Sacombank’s IPO, there were countless investors chasing him for investment agreements. It also happens the same with the current energy sector.

 “Before Thanh Thanh Cong's electric factory existed, household electricity used in Tay Ninh province was downloaded from the electricity grid in Hoc Mon and Cu Chi. For the moment, TTC provides up to 40% of household electricity in the province and every year it earns hundreds of billion dongs from this activity”, Mr. Thanh is very proud when it comes to biomass electricity produced from bagasse.

Following the Government's equitization program of sugar enterprises in the late 1980's, from a trader, Mr. Thanh moved to production sector on the critical condition that he must own material areas.

While the market often got used to venture of foreign enterprise acquiring Vietnamese enterprise, in 2007, Mr. Dang Van Thanh made it differently when buying two sugar factories of French investors including Bourbon Tay Ninh and Bourbon Gia Lai.

He said, maybe thanks to intuition, the instinct of an entrepreneur that he could see his market and his career urged him "to do something so that Vietnam's sugar industry could have a voice".

In Mr. Thanh’s point of view, it is a fundamental that large sample field and increasing mechanization rate affect 80% of the success of each sugar factory and the outstanding efficiency when “all components of sugarcane are usable” by implementing a closed-loop manufacturing system.

 “Sugarcane is a faithful tree that repay gratitude to farmers immediately, after cutting sugarcane for sale to biomass power factory. Electricity comes out for people right after sugar cane being brought into. Then I thought of the alcohol production, separating 10% of CCS (Commercial Cane Sugar) to make fine sugar, the remaining 90% is split into bottled sugarcane juice”, Mr. Thanh shared, then he continued talking about the goals of TTC in the sugarcane industry that TTC pursues at least " to be dominant the market of 90 million people".

TTC also makes researches on their own to create suitable sugarcane varieties for each region depending on climatic and soil conditions. In the farming process, to reduce using pesticides, Mr. Thanh invited Dr. Tran Tan Viet to become Director of TTC Sugar Application Research Joint Stock Company and studied to bring Trichogramma wasps, locally so-called red-eyed bee, to sugarcane fields to kill stalk borer. Along with applying of red-eyed bees, every 100 meters in sugarcane fields, TTC places an insect killer pillar light trap. "In the morning, every lamp pillar catching bulk of pests, which is the feeding source for fish and that is one of the factors contributing to the success of improving workers' meal."

Mr. Thanh suddenly became very excited when talking about the " plowing 6 inches deep " method that he learned from the Thai people, which helps the average production per hectare of sugarcane increase by 5 tons compared to before. With this solution, sugarcane not only absorb utmost nutrients from the ground, but also be deep rooted enough to stand firmly, retain water and moisture and they don’t need to replace the root in the next crop.

 “Sugarcane is like human that healthy body, high resistance, disease-free status are critical conditions for archiving high productivity. These techniques must be studied and do not fall from the sky. In the past, farmers lacked this information, and those who worked in sugarcane industry did not learn because at that time, production was still under Government-owned enterprises”, Mr. Thanh shared.

Doing business is to produce products that the market needs, therefore, in order to meet market demand, TTC has “Nu Hoang” dark brown sugar for milk tea, sugar stick, rock sugar, organic sugar, etc., Mr. Thanh affirmed, in Vietnam most of sugar sticks using in coffee are supplied by TTC. Every year, TTC produces around 1.6-1.7 million tons of sugar, of which, domestic consumption is about 1.5 million tons and around 200,000 tons are exported.

Not only sugar cane, coconut is also a popular tree, however, when he saw the coconut " struggling. " right in Ben Tre - the coconut capital, Mr. Thanh realized that the cause of this issue is due to unstable connection between production and consumption.

As soon as he realized the crux of "struggling" situation of the coconut, in 2014, Mr. Thanh researched and built a factory producing coconut water and canned coconut milk with an investment of more than USD 20 million then only after a while, virgin coconut milk, fruity coconut water, coconut milk, coconut oil, desiccated coconut and especially coconut milk of Ben Tre Import and Export Joint Stock Company (Betrimex) are exported to many countries.

According to Mr. Thanh, coconut milk products are made of copra blended with coconut water is currently the favorite drink in the Middle East.

 “No one assigned those tasks to me, but I ordered the TTC employees to work out together. Whether there is integrating opportunities or not, we must firstly stand strong. As for the sugar industry, we must be dominant at least in this 90 million people market and we do not have to use foreign currencies to import sugar”, TTC Chairman expected.

Generation transfer

The age gap between generations leads to differences in thinking when operating an enterprise. If entrepreneurs of the 6x generation like Mr. Dang Van Thanh have the advantage of experience through the process of training, endurance, patience in the period containing much of immutability, the next generation has creativity, unique personality and the "extravagant" of youth.

From the lessons of family corporations in Korea and Japan that are spreading their influence to countries in the region, Mr. Thanh realized that, before achieving such stature, those corporations had to go through the transitional period and the transitional route was clearly defined that with a limited starting point, the 6X generation of entrepreneurs did a good job in the S-shaped strip of land; the current generation equipped with modern knowledge and inherited from the previous generation will join the game in bigger scale, go beyond Southeast Asia or move to Asia and head forward global presence.

 “In the world, there are corporations producing from toys to airplanes, so entrepreneurs must take advantage of the best conditions and opportunities. However, if you would like to have a sustainable business, you must understand its principles and avoid type of rampant development spontaneity and lack of basic foundations”, Mr. Dang Van Thanh shared the experience of his three decades struggling and being successful in the market.

Maybe, the intellectual CEO is the one who knows stop point and time, but for Mr. Thanh, the "stop point" and "stop time" are essential moves of the visionary, which is the acceptance to step backward to move to enhance the next generation. However, the resilience and creativity of youth must be combined with the market experience distilled from the previous generation.

At the age of nearly 60, Mr. Dang Van Thanh is expected to stop directly manage the Group in the next 2 or 3 years, switching to strategic planning and the younger generation will be the executive team.

Mr. Thanh can fully put his hope in his successors when all four children of Dang family are passionate in business "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree" Mr. Thanh smiled softly.

The eldest son Dang Hong Anh is working in real estate industry, Dang Huynh Uc My is responsible for sugar cane industry, the third son Dang Huynh Anh Tuan is responsible for the Group's tourism, and youngest son Dang Huynh Thai Son is studying abroad.

“If my children have an idea testing in small scale, I will accept. However, in tern of decisive matters I need to consider carefully based on the Group's regulations and procedures to evaluate the acceptable risks but not to take it all" Mr. Thanh said.

Apparently, everyone can see that overcoming Mr. Thanh's very big image in TTC is certainly not an easy thing and it is even more definite that not many people can do it. However, his children, with many business gene in characteristics, are gradually improving their expertise to have the attitude of not only an owner but also of a leader. One day, someone will overcome that "shadow".

 “Pioneering to an acceptable extend of risk, if being successful will be very sweet. However, being over passionate in pioneering and ignoring all the risks will be easy to make mistakes as well as to pay the price”.

 “Don't be self-deprecating about whether it is small or big thing, the most important thing is doing it well or not. If it is small, you can find opportunities to grow it up. Don’t be self-deprecating then lose the opportunity. No one grows up or matures as soon as they are born.”

 “My principle since before is that after every work, we must review whether we did anything wrong to improve ourselves and to be strict ourselves. Being strict will help adjust from thought to action.”

Source: Investment News

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