Let's continue the new series to have a chat with remarkable people in our industry. We are trying to spot patterns of excellence. Join today to discover a bit about their personal story, of the ways they think, their mindset, their routines, that you can test and apply in your own life.
I heavily recommend you check it out. Please enjoy this conversation to my mind very important talk.
My interview guest is Dr. Dang Vu Hung no other than the CEO of Phong Phu International. The leading garment-textile manufacturers and exporters in Vietnam.
Known for multi-product specialization, specifically for No Planet B concept of sustainability and the Innovation Center.
There are a lot of reasons to be impressed with Dr. Dang Vu Hung.
I know! I’m excited, too. Here he is, please meet Dr. Hung:
- How he uses his doctorate in Textile Technology to create a next level sustainable approach in garmenting. (HINT: Mr Q in James Bond plays a role here).
- Read Dr. Hung’s insider take on what he’d do if he could only work 2 hours per week on his business (and why you should consider doing the same).
- The actual three top topics to fulfill as a garment exporter in Vietnam so that customers feel urgency to buy, and why many exporter get it wrong…
- A sneak peek inside Dr. Hung’s sustainability concept. He admits that it might sound like a fairy tale but he’s revealing real numbers of water, energy and waste cut down.
- Having a favorite item from your own production that you love to wear yourself? Not so for Dr. Hung. He explains why his first EVER produced waterless Jean is his source for inspiration.
- The #1 lesson he learned from Mr. Nghi, the Chairman of Vinatex Group.
Dive in to this rare and momentous conversation.
Dr. Hung though being the CEO is a very grounded person. He loves to interact and spend time on the factory floor.
Below is the tour of the laundry where he is explaining to Mr Peter (who is the marketing head) on the sustainability approach of water saving. (Why I chose this picture is that both Dr. Hung and Mr Peter are the backbone of the company from inception.)
Dr. Hung, please tell us a bit about the story of Phong Phu and you and how both came together.
DVH: After my doctorate in Textile Technology from Belgium university I returned back home to see that Vietnam had great potential.
But still was caught in a mind-set of being a CM vendor and to change something you need to take a first step forward that was the formation of PPJ in 2007.
Today you’re the CEO of the leading garment textile manufacturers and exporters in Vietnam. Why did you get in this business in the ﬁrst place?
DVH: I have always been fascinated by history and a country prospers when the people prosper and the best way to do this is to create jobs and the biggest job provider after agriculture is textile and garments.
What motivates or drives you what are you most passionate about - why do you do what you do?
DVH: The love for my country motivates me. It’s been a single driving factor the growth of PPJ to be a 17,000 employees, fuels in me the energy to grow and expand and create opportunities to revolutionize the textile and garment industry.
If I look back Vietnam moved away from a classic low skill country to a high tech manufacturer and we will create a benchmark in areas of technical excellence, sustainability in the coming years .
What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
Well as all youngsters I was fascinated by James Bond and it’s such a coincidence that PPJ was established in 07 and I still tell my R&D team to be as innovative as Mr.Q .
If you could only work 2 hours per week on your business, what would you do?
DVH: I am very fortunate to have an immense pool of talented people across different nationalities and I would spend the 2 hrs a week with them bouncing ideas and sharing vision and inspiring each other.
People are the greatest asset to any company you can buy any technology today but to have loyalty and dedication is priceless.
The Smart Garment Exporter Blog is all about how to sell more to European buyers. What have you done in your marketing that produced the most surprising results?
DVH: We believe that Earth has no substitute and we started a campaign of 'No Planet B' a sustainable approach to garmenting and what has surprised us is the amount of inquiry & interest being shown by European brands to be a part of this, a simple approach has created like-minded thoughts from many.
I did my doctorate in Europe and have good memories of the vast culture, fashion and I can say that I understand Europe much better .
What are the top 3 things you are focusing on next season in terms of product development?
What is your biggest win recently?
On a company front we have some JV partnership with well renowned Japanese /America companies and this will be released soon.
On a personal front we organized an outing and facilitation for our employees children in our facility in Danang the smiles on the children was my biggest win.
Who has been the biggest influence on you today? What lessons did he or she teach you?
I have been fortunate to be associated with Mr. Nghi the Chairman of Vinatex Group he is an inspiring and dynamic person and biggest teaching has been that when people mock your dreams that means you are in the right path.
What is something you believe that other garment exporter think is crazy?
DVH: We believe in sustainability.
In the last few years we have shifted 75% of our hand sand to lazer, water usage has been reduced by 80% across all factories with heavy investment in E-flow / Green Chemicals, organic textiles will cut down on water /energy /waste significantly.
What’s the most common reason for garment exporter failing or giving up in Vietnam? Is there any wisdom you’d want to pass on to them? What would you want them to know?
First and foremost is to win the trust and be reliable and loyal. Second is constituency and be innovative and I am repeating this again and again because if you are not innovative in fashion industry it is hard to survive and the 3rd and last is long term partnership.
Darwin theory of evolution says that only the fittest survive. For that you have to embrace change and get out from your comfort zone.
Humans love repetitive behavior and find comfort and solace in like-minded situations. Garmenting business is like Iphone you have to be smart/innovative/quick.
What have you changed your mind about in the last few years? And why?
DVH: I am fascinated by how things change. Which I look at the younger generation like my kids, when we were young going out to a mall was an experience, we used to spend hours in it only to be disappointed not to find the thing we wanted.
Today at the click of a button you can shop anything anywhere in the world the whole world is a big mall.
When a consumer has this option, a manufacturer must also have this option to spread his wings and be able to manufacture in any part of the world with like-minded partners.
How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Or, do you have a favourite failure of yours?
Not only for Vietnam but to every aspiring company who want to make a difference to garmenting.
This will change as we have already opened offices in America and Europe and will leave a global footprint soon.
What is the main thing on YOUR AGENDA for 2020?
DVH: We call it PPJ 2.0 the year of having a model Green set up which will be embracing latest technology and completely sustainable manufacturing.
What is your personal favorite ONE item from your production that you have in your wardrobe and can’t live without? And why?
DVH: Everyone normally has the first production of Jean or textile as a memento but for me it was different.
What obsessions do you explore on the evenings or weekends?
Weekends are family day there is nothing more relaxing than a day with your family and a good book .
Please let people know how they can find you? How can people get in touch with you? And how can people best interact on social media with you?
DVH: We are creating a platform in social media on Facebook/Instagram/Linked in/Twitter and this is an interactive platform where we will share about company /best practice and we strong believe is sharing ideas for a better world .
Thank you so very much Dr. Hung I’m so glad to have you on the show finally.
You shared generously your insights and your expertise with the Smart Garment Exporter Community.
I'm really curious to hear more about and dive deeper into two topics you hinted on... – specifically into behind-the-scenes information about your Innovation Center and your No Planet B concept of sustainable washing.
Thanks again, it was truly a treat.
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