Playing the piano as a true pianist, wearing casual fashion and being very sociable, few people know that Mr. Nguyen Anh Tuan, Chairman of Industrial Gas Joint Stock Company (DAGASCO), is an entrepreneur running many businesses at the same time with hundreds of employees.
From the passion for music ...
When I met businessman Nguyen Anh Tuan at the head office of Da Nang Industrial Gas Joint Stock Company (DAGASO) in Hoa Khanh Industrial Park, Lien Chieu District, the biggest asset in sight was probably the accordion in a small and simple room. Looking at this shiny musical instrument, I could feel his passion for music and the role of music in his life.
He said that his passion for music was kindled from an early age. Born to a Protestant family, when he was a child, with a smart appearance, gentle nature, he was chosen to support church ceremonies. From this environment, soft, deep piano sounds from hymn songs penetrated the mind of the 10-year-old boy without notice.
At that time in Vietnam, the piano was a high-end musical instrument, not affordable for all. While the family was poor, to study the piano, Tuan picked up musical instrument repairing and did the service at school for free to have his tuitions exempted. Being passionate and gifted, he learned very fast and he could play piano well after just a short time.
Like many other students, Nguyen Anh Tuan dreamed of going to college after high school. But, at that time, due to his complicated family background, the dream was unfinished. When the education path was unsuccessful, to help his family, he joined local singing troupes to perform everywhere, playing music at dancing halls and children's culture houses. He also repaired musical instrument to earn more income. “After working for a time, I realized that my job was somewhat weird. When people wore short hair, I wore long. When they woke up to work, I went to sleep. Thus, I decided to quit playing piano and applied to work as an industrial work in industrial parks. Then, I drove worker buses and container trucks,” he said.
When he was a worker, being smart, agile and industrious, he was given the opportunity to improve his knowledge by the company leaders. After obtaining a university degree, he thought that the path of advancement would be more convenient but it was not so. He was working for a State-owned company where every promotion had to be linked to education degree and career roadmap. Let alone, managers had to be Party members while he failed to meet this criterion. Never feeling discouraged, he performed well every task assigned by the company leaders although others found it hard to complete. Experience is the best teacher. Little by little, he gained the trust of the company management and specifically promoted from the worker to the team leader, then to the department deputy manager, the department manager and the director.
“Now many feel surprised when I am not playing piano anymore because they used to know me as a good pianist, the player of a high-class instrument that was once only found in conservatories. They thought that I would have a wealthy childhood. But in reality, during my childhood, I was only full during New Year holiday or death anniversaries. To have good today, I went through a very tough journey, full of sweats and tears. I experienced many twists and turns. I was sometimes broke but I always bore in mind that I had to try my best through my life to have a better life,” Tuan said.
... To revive DAGASCO
He loved playing music and doing business at the same time. When he worked for a state-owned company, he always cherished a dream of starting his own business. He used to invest in transport and scrap business but he had to abandon after a while because he did not have enough people.
In 2017, Nguyen Anh Tuan discovered a new investment opportunity. After many years of doing business, he realized that DAGASCO is a long-standing enterprise (established in 1972) and is a strong brand in the industrial gas industry in the central region. After 1975, DAGASCO was a leading company in the central region, actively contributed to the nation's construction. Its market was not only in Hue, Quang Nam and Da Nang, but also reached as far as Thanh Hoa, Nha Trang and the Central Highlands.
But, from 1998 to 2017, DAGASCO experienced a tough time because, after going public with 200 shareholders, the company lacked solidarity and a common goal, becoming disoriented. Fortunately, its brand was still valuable.
Understanding this difficulty of the company and trying to keep this brand - the pride of workers and the central market for years, in 2017, he decided to buy controlling shares of the company. He told his staff in the presence of many guests on the first day of taking over the business that “We are inheriting a valuable brand. I promise to build and develop DAGASCO as expected by all of us. I will never stop fighting with you. I will not disappoint you - who live with DAGASCO.”
But there were so many challenges in the way he went. “When I invested in DAGASCO, the average age of employees was 48.7 years and the average monthly income was VND4 million per person. The low income dispirited the aging workers. Besides, degraded facilities, obsolete equipment resulted in very low productivity. On the first day of takeover, I felt like being in a wild forest,” he shared.
With a high determination and a sharp mind, he immediately started restructuring facilities and personnel while restructuring traditional products and developing more high-end ones. Within six months, he managed to push production output and sales by 10 times. That 10-fold increase has continued for 21 months till now.
Not only having production increased and the market expanded, the productivity and employee income at DAGASCO has been greatly raised. Besides, by investing in modern machinery and equipment and applying advanced management tools, less manpower is needed. “I often tell my workers that I don't like you guys working 8 hours a day. We can work 4-6 hours to have a double income.”
Specially, DAGASCO has a built a very humane corporate culture, always for the employees. For example, the office for management is very simple but the workplace for workers are well invested. Canteens, toilets, and accommodations for workers were spaciously built. Meals for workers are nutritious and safe.
Not only successfully restructuring the business and fulfilling obligations to employees, entrepreneur Nguyen Anh Tuan also always consciously upholds the sense of corporate responsibility to society. He is not a Party member but he always facilitates the employees to join mass unions and strive for their ideals. He actively joins local charitable activities and social security.
After less than two years, as committed at the time of taking over the company, Nguyen Anh Tuan and his employees successfully revived the DAGASCO brand. Moreover, at present, the company is developing very sustainably, not only as a supplier of conventional industrial gas products but also as a supplier of special gas products for high-end manufacturing industries, becoming a leading gas company of Vietnam capable of competing with FDI companies and multinational corporations. Entrepreneur Nguyen Anh Tuan has also built a very humane corporate culture for DAGASCO.