Entrepreneur Truong Tu Phuong: Steadfast to Success

1:23:47 PM | 10/10/2019

As a recognized successful businesswoman in Vietnam, strong-willed Truong Tu Phuong, Chairwoman and CEO of Dai An Joint Stock Company, has made an incredible story as she has successfully developed a special business model: “industrial zone in the village, village in the industrial zone”. On the occasion of the Vietnam Entrepreneurs Day, October 13, Vietnam Business Forum has conducted an exclusive interview with the iron-willed businesswoman about outstanding achievements that she and her colleagues have obtained in the past journey. Hien Hang reports.

Recently, Dai An Joint Stock Company was honored with the Second-grade Labor Order by the Party and the State. This is a very valuable reward for the tireless efforts you and your colleagues have made. Could you please tell us some achievements that Dai An Industrial Zone has obtained in the past time?

Dai An Industrial Zone is located on National Highway 5 (at km 51) in Hai Duong City - the capital of Hai Duong province in the northern key economic triangle, which consists of Hanoi, Hai Phong and Quang Ninh. Beyond from the favorable location in Dai An Industrial Zone, investors are always warmly welcomed by well-trained professional employees who are willing to effectively support investors. Meeting all economic, social and community needs, Dai An Industrial Zone has become an ideal destination of investors, especially foreigners.

Dai An Industrial Zone was established under the Prime Minister’s Decision 317/CP-CN dated March 21, 2003 on an area of 174.22 ha. On July 7, 2006, the Prime Minister issued Document 1059/TTg-CN allowing its expansion by 470ha.

Starting this industrial zone, we encountered a lot of difficulties and challenges because this was relatively new at that time. Hardships were challenging, even for a woman who lived a long life in the south and worked for the State sector for a long time like me. But, with resolve, and bolstered by desires for business success, I say, “There is never a failure, all is just a challenge. If you want to become strong and achieve success, you must have courage”. That has inspired me to be more optimistic, more confident and stronger than ever to make my dreams come true.

To date, we managed to build Dai An into a model industrial zone in Vietnam, staying on par with the best of the class in the region. Currently, the industrial zone has an area of more than 643 ha, and costs VND2,500 billion for technical infrastructure construction. The industrial zone has enticed world- renowned multinational corporations to locate their projects here. The company’s workforce has expanded from six at first to 145 now. All employees are well- qualified and dedicated to the company.

Dai An Industrial Zone has attracted a large amount of investment funds, especially from foreign investors, raised the export value and the industrial production value of Hai Duong province, created jobs for local workers (especially for farmers who gave up their land for the park), generated stable long-term income for State coffers, and helped modernize infrastructure and restructure the local economy in association with ensuring national defense and security in the region, thus promoting the socioeconomic development of Hai Duong province.

In 2006, on average, a hectare of rented industrial land created an industrial output value of US$2 million and generated 70 full-time jobs, and in 2018, the same area generated an industrial output value of US$7.7 million, a high-tech production value of US$25 million and 100 full-time jobs. Tenants pay VND800 - 900 billion to the State Budget a year. Kefico Co., Ltd of South Korea registered to invest US$250 million in a high-tech project. This is also the first company in the zone to have a Party cell.

Since the industrial zone was set up, we have mobilized internal resources and utilized external resources to build a complete, synchronous and modern industrial zone as now, raise the efficiency of land use and support national industrialization and modernization. The number of projects and the value of invested fund has kept growing, especially in the last six years (2013 - 2018). By the end of 2018, Dai An Industrial Zone attracted 87 investment projects, including 80 FDI projects with US$1.8 billion of investment capital from 15 countries and territories. The occupancy rate reached 95% of its 135-ha rentable area. 85% of the 189-ha rentable area of the expanded Dai An Industrial Zone was hired by tenants.

The industrial zone has played an important role in creating jobs, training human resources, raising incomes, living standards and qualifications for employees. The workforce in the park ncreased from about 9,500 people with an average monthly salary of VND4.5 million each in 2004-2008 to 38,000 people with an average personal monthly salary of about VND7.5 million in 2018. Besides, tenants also employed more than 300 foreign experts.

Dai An Industrial Zone has a relatively synchronous infrastructure system and helps modernize surrounding rural infrastructure systems. By December 2018, Dai An Joint Stock Company had invested VND1,857 billion in infrastructure construction on its 400 ha, and funded VND18 billion to support building rural roads and power grids in six villages and three communes in the industrial zone.

Particularly, we have succeeded in building a special model “Industrial zone in village, village in the industrial zone”. This is the first “gate-always-open” industrial zone where dwellers share the transport system. The construction of residential areas has significantly helped improve living conditions (changing farm jobs to non-farm jobs for local people, catering services for the industrial zone). Dai An Industrial Zone has effectively carried out the Government policy on rural development (people quit farming jobs, not relocate to other places), helped construct and improve the local environment from agricultural culture to industrial culture, and supported local residents to have a happy life on their homeland.

Right from the very start, we determined that “we never develop our business at all cost, never seek immediate benefit and skip community interests”. This criterion contains humanity in business, which I have always been pursuing. Therefore, Dai An Industrial Zone always strives to balance investment appeal and sustainable environmental protection; never attracts investment fund at any cost, but gives priority to world-class investors registering to invest in industries that use cutting-edge technology, do not pollute the environment, and abide by regulations on environment and responsibility to surrounding communities. In 2007, Dai An Joint Stock Company built a wastewater treatment system with a daily capacity of 2,000 cubic meters. In 2017, we constructed the second facility with a daily capacity of 5,000 cubic meters (powered by the most modern technology).

Dai An Industrial Zone pays special attention to social works for the community and considers it a core value of the company’s success. In addition to caring for its employees, the company actively participates in local social charitable programs and activities. In the past 16 years, the company has donated over VND30 billion (VND2 billion a year) to social charitable activities. Besides, the company also raised VND500 million to support Japan when it faced hardships.

The industrial zone always places the highest priority in security. We have developed security self-management models here. With these efforts, in 2012, Dai An Industrial Zone was honored to be proposed by the Director of Hai Duong Police to the Ministry of Public Security to have its security model piloted in other industrial zones in the country. The model has continued to be maintained and developed over the past years. Dai An Industrial Zone has been awarded the Certificate of Merit and Emulation Flag by the Ministry of Public Security for many consecutive years.

As one of the 10 most powerful businesswomen in Vietnam honored as the ASEAN Outstanding Women Entrepreneurs in 2018, could you please tell us some secrets to your success?

In the challenging and difficult journey in the marketplace, I can affirm that investing in industrial zone infrastructure is the right approach for the company and we are determined to go on the path we have chosen. To be successful today, we have learned many valuable lessons. First, right from inception, Dai An Joint Stock Company did not choose to invest in a mere industrial zone but built a combined industrial - service destination to best serve tenants and workers.

Second, in business, we always take ethics as the foundation and guideline for all actions, always place rights and interests of people who gave up their land for the industrial zone and workers above everyone else; always respect and listen to tenants’ opinions and see their success as ours. Third, Dai An is always attentive and responsible to workers and the community in the industrial zone. The park has long been a “common roof” for officers, experts and workers working here and people living around it. We are steadily building a corporate culture that bears a strong Vietnamese identity in the context of economic integration with 15 countries and territories with investors in Dai An Industrial Zone.

To confirm its role as a leading industrial zone developer in Vietnam, what is the strategic planning for Dai An Industrial Zone in the coming time?

We have worked out a strategy for the company in the new era, matching the Government direction towards “Innovations based on Industry 4.0 and private economic development”.

First, Dai An needs to prepare for a successive staff to attract more FDI and about 20,000 trained workers.

Second, we will invest VND2,500 billion to build a 120-ha synchronous and modern serviced residence for about 20,000 workers here. Dai An Joint Stock Company and Fujita Group (Japan) have cooperated in this investment. This is a great advantage for the company to attract skilled workers to the industrial zone.

Third, we will prepare 120 ha in the expanded section for high-tech companies to scale up their production. We will give priority to industries that use advanced environmentally-friendly technologies, make technically advanced contents, act responsibly to the community, and abide by regulations provided by the government and the industrial zone. In the next five years, we will attract about US$1 billion of investment capital and 20,000 workers for the industrial zone.

Thank you very much!