DREAM OF VIETNAM'S COFFEE KING
"I always dream of building a well- known coffee trademark so that my country can export a large volume of processed coffee, not just green coffee beans," Vietnam' s coffee king Dang Le Nguyen Vu told Xinhua. Seven years ago, Dang Le Nguyen Vu, director of Trung Nguyen Coffee Co Ltd, was nobody but a medical student whose parents are poor workers. Nurtured by the aspiration to make a fortune for himself and his country by selling processed coffee, Vu, in 1996, opened a coffee roasting facility in Dac Lac -- the kingdom of coffee in Vietnam - with a total workforce of only four, including himself and three of his friends. Having practically no money and experience, Vu struggled to make his business survive while still having to attend classes. By the time he got a Bachelor's Degree in medicine he had already succeeded in collecting over 30 formulae for roasting, grinding and brewing coffee. Time went by, and so did the money Vu invest in his small production base. His parents had to sell their own house to contribute capital to the base because their son wanted to develop it into a bigger one. "I put all my life in coffee processing industry instead of working as a doctor because a poor doctor has no money to help patients who need treatment. More importantly, Vietnam needs a famous processed coffee brand for the whole world to enjoy and admire," Vu said. His dream of establishing a household coffee brand name in Vietnam has now come true, given by the fact that the once half- dead facility has developed into a Ho Chi Minh City-based company with 600 employees. The firm currently has 400 Trung Nguyen-style cafes in the country's all 61 cities and provinces. He attributed the rapid development mainly to product quality and Trung Nguyen's respect to partners and consumers. "Our mission is to create a leading trademark by bringing creation inspiration and pride of gastronomy bearing the national cultural identity to coffee and tea lovers," he said. Vu has assigned himself and all of his employees to fulfil eight fundamental tasks, namely creation inspiration, trademark development and protection, Trung Nguyen style construction, consumer-oriented approach, product improvement, win-win relations with partners, manpower development, and community construction. Among numerous coffee producers, both state and private, in the country, Trung Nguyen Coffee Co Ltd is taking the lead, mainly because it is the first local enterprise to apply franchising model both domestically and overseas. The model, still uncommon in Vietnam, has been applied in a flexible way by Vu. His company supplies its own products, ways of brewing coffee, decoration design and services style to cafe owners who, in return, pay the firm a small royalty to use Trung Nguyen name first, and then part of their revenues. In spite of reaping huge success in local coffee market, Vu does not want to stand still. His new dream, being a major player in the world coffee market, has appeared. After having established a chain of cafes embedded with the national cultural identity in Vietnam's all localities by 2001, Trung Nguyen started applying the franchising model in foreign countries, such as Japan, Singapore, Thailand and Cambodia. It also has many distributors and agents in the United States, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, Australia, Canada, France, Germany and the Czech Republic among others. The company also planned to set up large Trung Nguyen-style cafes in China following the smooth operation of Chinese-invested cafes in the province of Yunnan in late 2000, Vu's assistant, Le Non, revealed. In the first eight months of this year, Trung Nguyen shipped six tons of coffee to China's Hong Kong, five tons to China's Taiwan and three tons to Chinese mainland. Besides, 16 tons of coffee entered the mainland via border trade. "Although China is a tea-drinking country, its population, especially youths, are much interested in coffee,...
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