Mr. Chi-pen Hsu broke into the New World in Vietnam


After the festival held at Lu Ban Temple in Binh Dung Province, about 40 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, the worshipers were still reluctant to leave. Today was the birthday of Lu Ban, the patron saint of Chinese builders and carpenters. Bustling Taiwanese language was heard from far away.  Taiwanese furniture manufacturers lived in Vietnam, gathered together for the master craftsman Lu Bang’s birthday celebration, praying for a prosperous career in a foreign land.

Mr. Chi-pen Hsu, the Chairman of Mau Son Industrial Co., Ltd., also the vice chairman of Lu Ban Temple, was busy greeting the crowd. He said, "The Lu Ban Temple in Vietnam was invited to worship from Wan Xing Temple in Shengang District of Taichung, Taiwan by the furniture manufacturers. Taichung was the home base of the furniture manufacturing industry and a major contributor to Taiwan's economic miracle.  After the first migration of moving out to China in the 1990s, Taiwan furniture manufacturers opened another new horizon in Vietnam.

 Vietnam now became another major hub of Taiwan furniture industry. Despite his busy schedule, Mr. Chi-pen Hsu always attends the Taiwanese annual event in Lu Ban Temple, which is an important spiritual consolation for the uprooted entrepreneurs and a good opportunity to connect with other companies from overseas. Mr. Chi-pen Hsu stated “The craft saint links Taiwanese companies in Vietnam must unite together in harmony". He then hinted the competitors of Taiwan companies in Vietnam are the Vietnamese companies, as well as companies from China.  His words reveal the fierce competition in overseas investment.

Mr. Chi-pen Hsu who specializes in the wood processing industry, went to Heilongjiang in the north of China in his early 30s, just because a friend mentioned there are a lot of opportunity in wood industries. He then started the first overseas investment in his life.  A few years later he transferred to the south in Shenzhen and Dongguan, "along the way, what I have contacted and learned, I feel that the protections for Taiwanese companies in China are too weak”.  In the 90s, while everyone was indulging in China's world factory dream, he raised the idea of shifting the investment to Vietnam.

However he couldn’t get rid of the investment in China, "In 2004, I had a friend in China who wanted to expand the factory. I took advantage of the opportunity to sell the company I worked hard to establish and decided to set up a factory in Vietnam," he said.

Recalling those years, Mr. Chi-pen Hsu said, "In the beginning, I had always loved and hated Vietnam.   In 1994, I often traveled to Taiwan, China, and Southeast Asia.  I could see the opportunities everywhere but also full of traps.  During 1995-1998, I was cheated and lost a lot of money in Vietnam.  It was a bit disheartening."

Just about to lose the passion in Vietnam, Mr. Chi-pen Hsu heard of the United States was going to lift the economic sanctions against Vietnam in 1999.  His hope was lifted again and actively layout investment plans. "In 2003, I bought a land through a friend and got cheated by a broker.  In the following year, I finally found the ideal land to build the factory and started to operate in 2006," he said.

"The geographical location of the south Vietnam is a great advantage in the future for ASEAN Rail Train Station.  Mau Son Industrial Co., Ltd. has grown steadily every year since establishment”.  Mau Son’s headquarter is in Taiwan and has strongholds in Vietnam and Indonesia.  Now there are more than 100 employees in Vietnam's wood processing plant.  He also invested in a furniture factory with his friend which has more than 800 employees.  He himself ran around the earth, the Nordic, Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, North and South America's forest and wood processing plants. As long as there is good wood, there will be his footprints.

“During 2009-2011, the Vietnamese business has reached its peak.  In recent years, more and more enterprises have come to Vietnam to develop and compete intensely." 

Mr. Chi-pen Hsu believes that, despite the difficulties encountered in investment in Vietnam, it is an important business location that can not be ignored. "Vietnam, the United States, the European Union, China and the ASEAN countries have signed trade agreements, allowing ASEAN economic to be integrated.  In time the Rail Train Station will be finished, starting from Kunming city in China, connecting three routes to Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, the central hub.

 "In contrast, Vietnamese government regulations on foreign companies are more suitable for Taiwanese companies.  as well the cultural practices are similar.  The biggest challenge will be the Vietnamese language, but it can be overcome."

Overseas strategies that Taiwan businessmen should have

Taiwan's traditional industries have been shocked by the first relocation wave to China.  Now, they have moved to Vietnam.  It’s like the nomadic people living by the seasons. Where should we move when the wages in Vietnam rises again and again?  "With the lessons of history, Taiwanese companies should quickly put into action, investment in R&D, branding and develop high value-added products and no longer just do OEMs.  The good news is, some Taiwanese companies in Vietnam have encouraged the second generation of business leaders to inject new ideas, technologies, and new vitality into the traditional industries," said Chi-pen Hsu, who has struggled overseas for a long time.

  Taiwanese government officials appear occasionally at the Lu Ban Temple.  Does it mean that the Taiwan government's “new Southward policy" has been starting?  Mr. Chi-pen Hsu suggested, "The new Southward policy is well-intentioned, but you need a complete package and tactics".  He also said the Taiwan government should establish a communication channel with Vietnam's government for mutual dialogue.

He remembered the first riots in Vietnam in 2003-2004 and the anti-China riots on May 13th were still a concern.  Taiwanese companies did not know whom to turn to help and some people could only go to the Chinese ambassador. Quite ironic. The government is obliged to protect the safety and security of the lives and property of overseas Taiwanese companies, but at that time, Taiwanese companies only felt helpless.

"Taiwanese Companies in Vietnam are like solitary birds fighting alone.  There was no official communication channel during the riots.  Another example is the labor policy released by Vietnam, Taiwanese companies can only accept silently.  There is no place to negotiate”.  Mr. Chi-pen Hsu believes that the establishment of diplomatic dialogue between the two countries is the priority to the “new Southward policy".

Speaking to the human resource, Mr. Chi-pen Hsu mentioned, "The core cadres is lacking seriously among Taiwanese companies overseas.  Taiwan education should understand and care about the importance of the demand for talented people for the industries and help to cultivate all kinds of skills. Taiwan is too focused on advanced technology and causing the lack of skilled people for traditional industries.  This is a serious problem for Taiwan's economic development."

He cited the furniture industry as an example.  “Generally speaking, Taiwanese companies in Vietnam lack "core cadres" from Taiwan. In the best condition, one oversea company should have more than one-third of the core cadres from Taiwan.  But now the young Taiwanese generation are not into woodworking skills and caused a chasm between production and management, effecting the expanding of overseas business.”  Taiwanese vocational education and industrial demand can not be brought into line with each other. This has stalled the development of Taiwan's economic and must be addressed.
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