Pin Hong: Running a team on wit and wisdom

Mr Lin Chien Kuo, Pin Hong Wooden Furniture

With good leadership and proper management, handling huge orders within limited space, manpower and resources is not a problem, as Pin Hong demonstrates.

Known for their enterprising nature, the Taiwanese have long taken advantage of Vietnam’s favourable conditions for manufacturing. Apart from the usual OEM model, many of them pursue different business needs, producing all sorts of furniture products for a variety of clientele.

Pin Hong Wooden Furniture in Binh Duong is one of them. The company produces wooden furniture products—mostly cabinets—for the furniture cluster in the provinces around Ho Chi Minh City.

Many consult Pin Hong when they have too big or too small a consignment of orders they cannot manage. Pin Hong then takes these orders, manufactures accordingly and delivers them back for the final finishing. Sometimes, manufacturers who have too complicated a design at hand also approach Pin Hong for help. In return, Pin Hong offers value-added advice on design and materials. This has its advantages too as it allows the management to know what it can or cannot promise the customer.

Yet, sustaining a business model like this can be tough. After all, orders are dependent on whether the industry can manage production in their own factories.

But going by the over 50 design prototypes in Pin Hong’s store, it looks like the company is doing well. With only 150 workers, the factory can do anything, even big items. In fact, it is moving into larger premises spanning 8,000 sqm to accommodate more orders.

The factory is owned and run by Lin Chien Kuo, a Taiwanese who worked his way up from a factory worker back in Taiwan many years ago.

In 1998, Mr Lin arrived in Vietnam as general manager of a small factory producing knock-down furniture. The business prospered under his leadership, so much that it could boast an annual net profit of US$3 million.

With an arsenal of business acumen, wit and experience, Mr Lin was more than qualified to start his own wood products factory. In 2010 he did.

Today, at 60 years old, Mr Lin is still involved in the factory’s daily operations. For him, good quality furniture comes through having the right attitude and putting his heart into everything he does.

Understanding the importance of hands-on experience, he believes that there is no task too mean for a manager or a job too ‘classy’ for a worker. Such a management style also stems from personal values of hard work, trust and respect for people as well as the value they bring. He also believes in hiring the right people, and then training them for the job.

“If you have the right people, you can grow success. But if you have bad apples in the basket, you can lose everything overnight,” Mr Lin says.

He also offers this counsel to others in the industry: “We tend to be very complacent, conservative and cautious but to be successful, you need to move along with the times. This means managing expectations, innovating product design and upgrading machinery.”

Someday, Mr Lin dreams of launching his own brand of high-end furniture.