When Retired Labour Hero opens Company…

Vietnamese Ceramic JSC now has become quite popular not only because of its brand but also the name of those who founded it. They are, who named as Labour Hero when was as a general director of a state enterprise and a former provincial party committee secretary retired.

Anh hùng Lao động Nguyễn Quang Mâu, Chủ tịch HĐQT Công ty Gốm Đất Việt (ngoài cùng bên trái) luôn quan tâm, chăm chút cho từng sản phẩm.
Labour Hero Nguyen Quang Mau, Chairman of the Vietnam Ceramic Company (leftmost) always interested in, cared for each product.

“Old General” still reel …

Arrived at Vietnamese Ceramic JSC (based in Trang An commue, Dong Trieu district), we have been fascinated by space here. From the entrance, workshop, ponds to lawns, the ground, all of these are designed methodical, creating a friendly environment. The Labour Hero, chairman of company welcomed us next to a pond, he pull the sock out of the water, and Mr. Mau said that was a way for him to relax, to console his feeling for his home town. He actually came from Thai Binh, started up his carrier in Halong city, then as a director and CEO of Viglacera Halong. After his retirement, he went to Dong Trieu to continue his pottery passion. With decades of experience, a lot of his colleagues friends even his rival consider him as a “veteran” in market place. However, when opened up his private company in Dong Trieu, he was afflicted many times. He said that he thought about an idle time after retirement, but it actually one of the most difficult years in his life.

His story brings us back to the memory of year 2007, 2008 when the bricks and tiles, building materials were at peak, the demand was over the supply. The material source in Halong was running out. At the time, was as CEO of Viglacera Halong, Mr Mau and his colleague took a survey at a paddy field in Trang An commue (Dong Trieu district). There in Trang An, he saw a lot of potential, additionally, a lot of people were unemployed. After that, without any hesitate, he asked his friends, investors to open up a company in Trang An. Until his retirement, he saw that the potential of this area still untapped, he discuss with Mr.Nguyen Duy Hung, who was as Secretary of Quang Ninh province party committee, just also retirement. The two partners founded Vietnamese Ceramic JSC.

Turned out to his fish pond, I asked him why not like many others to take idle time but started over here. Mr.Mau said that, he was a man of work, terracotta was a long carrier of his life, and he just can’t put it down. Besides, as once he told Mr.Hung that at old age, he still wanted to prove that he was not just “stick to the State. He even can stay strong when operated his private company. Not only him, a lot of his friends and colleague who turned retirement followed him and start up over again in Trang An.

Mr.Hung, Mr.Mau and their colleagues embarked building Vietnamese Ceramic in 2009. About a year later, with the improvement of the infrastructure, the company hoped that the production at least equivalent to Viglacera Halong. On 25/1/2010, Vietnamese Ceramic JSC started its first batch of goods. Mr Mau said that he wished Vietnamese Ceramic JSC and Viglacera Halong would be brother in the market and help each other to dominant the national market and reach worldwide.

However, the story did turn in a different way, totally contrary to his imagination, the Labour Hero, who used to with the State mechanism did not eat all the fierce envision “market place is the battlefield”. The products of Vietnamese Ceramic marketed not for long before pushed into a price battle. With a company newly arrived into the market, the capital mainly loan from the banks, the depreciation just began, the race of discounting pushed Vietnamese Ceramic JSC face bankruptcy. Moreover, one of its rival, sent out a formal document asked all the agencies that not to put the sample of Vietnamese Ceramic on, cannot sell products for Vietnamese Ceramic. In additional, there were a lot of gossips about the company, some people even ironic that “The Labour Hero loss in his business”.

At that time, the capital of Vietnamese Ceramic was about 30 billion Vnd, remaining was mainly loan. In addition, the interest rate was awful, sometime climb up to 22%. Yet, many bank did not disburse loans, shareholders even withdraw and did not bother talking about rising the capital. Many supplier who provide the input also afraid…

Mr.Mau said that he was penetrate the pain of being at front. Mr Mau and Mr Hung hired Lawyer to sue the banks. Both of them, one is the Labour hero, the other one is the former secretary of Quang Ninh provincial committee party now stick to the diffusion of lawsuit. Moreover, people will doubt that: “both of them only familiar in spending the State’s money, things would be matter when on their own?”

Sometimes, he even thought of shut down the factory, declared bankruptcy. But, he thought of his lost property was a mild, and what would happen to the employees, who also hardship and even brought their family to follow him. Mr.Mau speak up frankly: “Shut down the company to suffer torment, gossips. I would probably die from writhe rather from old age, illness”.

Gốm Đất Việt đang trên đà đi lên và phát triển vươn xa hơn nữa.
Ceramics of Vietnam is on the rise and develop themselves further.

Stand up from internal resources

So finally, Mr Hung and Mau decided not to sell the factory. Fortunately, I was absolutely right decision. Not all turn their backs to Vietnamese Ceramic, many agents protest the unfair competition and support Vietnamese Ceramic. They are not for the business but for the long term beneficial. : “Did not sell then we have the Vietnamese Ceramic now” Mr Mau laugh, say so.

“How did you paddle the company through the storm”, the former Secretary of provincial committee party laugh, answered: attempt work hard to over the difficulties, accepted sell products underprice, the more sale-the more loss, however we still need to sell to clear inventory, recover the capital to get employees salary payment. We even had to loan in a high interest rate from the outsider to get a hold in that situation. Mr Mau, Hung and their colleagues even had to put their houses in pledge to bring loans to the company.

With the capital raised, the company decided to expand further with one more factory. It had to contructed fast, in order to produce products as soon as possible to get back the capital quick and re-invest. “So far, Vietnamese Ceramic has gone through the turbulent time and have a stable position in the market” Mr Mau said.

Dong Duc Chinh, CEO of Vietnamese Ceramic said that last year the company paid a divident of 20% for shareholders. Mr Mau interupted, and added “ that still was a little immature, this year may be a higher rate.” Dat Viet Tile JSC, (companies that joint venture with Vietnamese Ceramic) has also started to get profit. Even thought, both companies share same brands, same sale systems and a chairman, the 2 companies accounted seperately. “ The purpose of that is when a company in a rough time, the other will help to go over” Mr Mau explain the coexitence of 2 companies. Mr Hung added more deeply “ Running both companies parallely will also help to save up the resources, there still a lot of lower quality argil after manufacture, which still really good for produce building bricks.

Until now, not only have a strong position in the market, Vietnamese Ceramic also speed up in the competition. Mr Mau admited that, everything need follow the market, we cannot sale different prices or dumping, still need to chase the price competition. However, Vietnamese Ceramic is now a strong brand, Mr Mau dose not afraid of the price competition anymore. If there is any lack of capitals, the banks would immediately offer loans at a preference interest rate.

Currently, thanks to the improvement in technology, the production line of the company reach 1.4 times the yeild designed. This year, the esimate production of Vietnamese Ceramic will reach 5.6 million m2. Having some unique products like colored glaze tiles for customer choose according to their believe in feng shui. Specially, this product only kiln only 1 times instead of 2 times as other products. This is the first manufacture system in Vietnam has this technology.

Vietnamese Ceramic also experiment and produce the bricks and tiles for rebuilding the temples according to the standarlization of national. The products of Vietnamese Ceramic have now reached to 63 cities and provinces in Vietnam, also reached to 38 countries and teritories worldwide inculding countries that have advance technology in ceramic production. In 2013, Vietnamese Ceramic rate as one of the three company have significant growth rate in Vietnam, 2 times honored the Vietnam gold star award. Currently, Vietnamese Ceramic is considering investment a third production line.

“It different now,(refering to the competitors – PV) feel free to dump, i would follow anywhere” The labour Hero laugh, confidently and keep speeking a poignant statement “ Penetrating the market is a battlefield, before, we were brothers, friends over there, then because of companies’s interest which turn us over to be rivals. However, we cannot blame them, we have to stand on our own feet”.

Continue the conversation, he took us to visit the factories. He gave us a cladding tile which look like an perfect art made from energy machine. We stop by at the product introduction room, Mr.Mau look really angry suddyly, stamping his feet on the floor, he shouted: “ Look at what you guys doing? Write the your resignation immediately”, he pointed to the mortar between the floor tiles, keep his anger, he repeat the sologan of the factory “Think of Vietnamese Ceramic is your home” aand turned to us “ employees just like our family members, we shared the hardship, joy together however, work is work, just because of that then blind for their mistakes. If cannot do our house beautiful then do who else” Mr Mau said in frustuation.

More calmly, Mr Hung told us that that is Mr Mau, he really a hot temper in work but it all down for the benefit of the company and above all Mr Mau regarded the employees as his families members, that is why he yelled at the employee. The perfect combanation of Mr Mau’s hot temper and Mr’s Hung Calm pushes up and contribute to the growth of Vietnamese Ceramic.


Pointed out at the clay field raw materials, a man who turn 60 told me with the anxiety “ with this growth rate, the clay raw materials is only enough to supply for the next 20 years”.

Mr Hung also confirm that and seeking for raw resources to maintain the company in long term.

Listen to them, i know that the both “ old general” are cherished a longterm strategy for Vietnamese Ceramic


Hoc Pham