Pat Riley, one of the greatest basketball coaches the United States has ever produced, had once said: “Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.” Nam Viet Import & Export Investment Joint Stock Company, based in Ho Chi Minh City, is living by this philosophy.
In the last decade, the company has done enough to leave a trail of footprints in Vietnam, yet strive to excel is a trait that can be a story of inspiration for many in the garment industry. “Our turnovers have been consistently good so far. However, we expect to grow to US $ 10 to 12 million next year,” averred Micheal, Operation Head, Nam Viet, in an exclusive interaction with the Apparel Resources team. It is the confidence of producing the best that helps Nam Viet make this commitment to the customer consistently, and which has also been the vision of Cao Tran Anh Vu, Director, Nam Viet.
E-Leclarc, one among the many clients of Nam Viet, has given a projection of 1 million pieces, in the current year, in addition to 5,00,000 pieces from Asmara Vietnam. Micheal feels the said projections are good enough to make the company achieve the estimated turnover. He adds, “Besides these projections, we will also be doing value-added products. So, I think we should be achieving our targets.”
Nam Viet started as denim fabric traders back in 2007. In less than 4 years, i.e. in 2011, they came up with its laundry service and finally established their garment division in 2013. Today, they has become one of the largest suppliers of denim fabric in Ho Chi Minh City. While denim is their major product category, the company focuses on khaki as well. In less than a decade, Nam Viet has spread its wings across Australia, France and USA. Some of their major clients are E-Leclarc – one of the biggest retailers in France – and Harris Scarfe from Australia. Their consistent performance has today helped them reach the markets of Dubai and Russia too. Apart from Dubai, the company is now getting into Russian markets too because of the duty benefits offered by the country. It doesn’t end here for Nam Viet; there are also plans to expand and grow the business into USA.
From fabric to laundry, the company has one production line which in all probability may increase to 10 by late this year. The production line has reached approximately 300 specialized equipment, sewing machines and washing machines. With a target efficiency of 70 per cent, the company has been consistently achieving a production efficiency of 55 to 60 per cent, much to the satisfaction of the management. “We are quite happy with the efficiency of our employees. Since we are revamping our company in a big way, we are planning to adopt ERP software that is compatible to a company of our size so as to track the production efficiency effectively,” said Thusitha Kumara, Factory Consulant, Nam Viet.
Production efficiency improves only with consistent training, which is true for any industry. Nam Viet is no exception. The company has its own training school which has been consistently providing training to all its workers – a reason good enough to justify the company’s commitment to deliver quality products and services. When a new worker joins the company, the training school provides one month’s training course to the person. Under the supervision of an Industrial Engineer (IE), the efficiency level of the new worker is consistently checked, and only when it is considered satisfactory, he/she is considered good enough to join the production team. Thusitha adds: “Good training makes the workers feel confident about their work, which in turn helps in arresting the attrition issues.”
Nam Viet feels that emergence of countries like Cambodia, Myanmar and Ethiopia, is not something Vietnam should be fretting over. Many times, it doesn’t work for a country despite good infrastructure and a supportive Government – as is the case with Ethiopia. “Yes, there is infrastructure, less crime and political stability but then the salary is very less. And, less salary breeds inefficiency and incompetence. So, Ethiopia is no competition to Vietnam. Cambodia does offer duty benefits to Europe and Canada but with all its strikes and labour unrest, it has a long road to travel to match Vietnam.
Myanmar is comparatively less expensive but then it is no match to Vietnam in lead time. While it takes just 3 weeks to ship products from Vietnam to Los Angeles, the time taken from Myanmar is 75 days – clearly no comparison. “None of these countries can come close to Vietnam. Good education, stable Government, firm economy and good law & order has today made Vietnam the best among the best. By 2022, Vietnam will be rocking,” adds the Operation Head.
If trained and skilled workforce is an integral part of any organization then the product development (PD) holds no less position. Nam Viet too believes in the relevance of PD. The company has a team of youthful, self-motivated and creative fashion designers, a very efficient sample-working department, professional merchandisers and experienced workers who help producing the best product according to customer requirements and latest fashion trends. The PD team explores the market trends and based on these trends, the samples are made. They attend fashion shows and are aware of all latest trends. This is also the reason why the company prefers to have students from fashion technology institutes.
Being an integrated set-up, Nam Viet does provide all services, but there is nothing more challenging than washing. Vietnam has always faced big challenge in washing from countries like Bangladesh and so that’s one area Nam Viet has been focusing lately.
“Denim is all about washing and so it cannot be less than the best, and the company is planning to adopt new washing technologies. Also, Vietnam has never been strong in over-dye, and therefore we, at Nam Viet, are planning to launch 9 process types of over-dye, like direct dye, sulfur dye, azure dye, and so on… We are developing all this here. I am planning to develop the samples and display them in New York by next year. By mid-2018, hopefully everything will be in production and am confident that it will change the entire scenario of washing in our company,” conclude the company experts.
Talking of challenges, no challenge is bigger than running a business in Ho Chi Minh City. If recruitment of workers is tough, then retaining them is even tougher and unless companies work on welfare schemes for the workers, it will be difficult. Notwithstanding these glitches, the fact remains that the strengths of the nation outnumber its meagre flaws… And these strengths that have taken the country to where it is today, and will surely and steadily take it to a position from where it remains unchallenged in times to come.