Vu Hai Bang, owner and chairman of Woodsland Joint Stock Company
Woodsland Joint Stock Company may be a company with a yearly turnover of US$70 million and 3000 workers, but its owner, Vu Hai Bang, cuts a humble fi gure. PFA had the chance to visit the biggest of his five factories based in Hanoi; the four others are located nearby in the same Quang Minh Industrial Zone. This factory fulfils orders from IKEA, specifi cally tables, table tops and wood crafted kitchen items such as cheeseboards and spice grinders. Using acacia from local plantations, this Woodsland factory produces an impressive 6000 to 8000 tables and tabletops per week.
It helped that Woodsland started coating IKEA’s premium tabletops using its new Bϋrkle Roller Coater UV Finishing Line to achieve the perfect coating since February 2019.
1: The Bϋrkle Roller Coater UV Finishing Line that was installed in February last year
2: The new Bϋrkle line consists of six roller coating units with individual UV drying lamps and one drying tunnel, as well as two sanding machines to achieve high quality surface
STABILITY IS THE TOP PRIORITY
Stepping into the factory that spans over 30,000 square metres, the air is clean and workers are properly attired.
Woodsland sets high environment safety standards for its factories. “Safety is very important to us, we make sure dust and odour in the factory is minimised by using dust and odour collectors so that our workers are safe,” said Mr Bang.
There is also a well-decorated canteen where all employees and even Mr Bang himself have homely, healthy meals. One gets the sense that the company makes an eff ort to take good care of its employees.
Ultimately, an overall stability is what Mr Bang is trying to achieve. The same goes for the machines used in the manufacturing process. “With many machines, speed may be fast but I feel that stability is even more important – for both machine and products. Any problem in the machine or products and there will be downtime to get things fixed, while workers wait around doing nothing.”
A NEW BÜRKLE LINE
At this factory, a Bϋrkle Roller Coater UV Finishing Line was installed in February last year and has been running smoothly since. The new Bϋrkle line consists of six roller coating units with individual UV drying lamps and one drying tunnel, as well as two sanding machines to achieve high quality surface. The line was customised to meet the needs of the plant’s growing capacity.
Coating table components is smooth process with flawless results using the Bϋrkle line
A considerably big investment for Woodsland, the new line is used solely for coating tabletops from IKEA’s high-end range, which makes up 60 per cent of Woodsland’s capacity.
“We had a second-hand coating machine two years ago to produce furniture, but breakdowns were frequent and there were many rejects. The second-hand machine may be very cheap, but we lost one order in the past two years when the machine broke down and we weren’t confident in fulfilling the order on time,” revealed Mr Bang.
With the new line, Woodsland can plan its manufacturing more strategically. While the factory has a new Chinese UV line to produce cheaper products with lower requirements, the Bϋrkle line is now specifically used for coating the premium products as it is capable of achieving consistently defect-free coating.
“I can finally have a peace of mind. For what goes into manufacturing our premium products, you don’t want to have rejects,” Mr Bang said.
SUPERIOR MACHINES FOR SUPERIOR PRODUCTS
Mr Bang also believed that the superior quality of coating achieved by Bϋrkle has to do with the exceptional engineering capabilities that go into the technology.
“I think Bϋrkle has the best UV lamp in the industry. The power of the lamp is stronger than other brands’ so surfaces are always cured well, regardless of whether a light or dark lacquer is used,”
“For the other machines, our workers will sometimes face problems with the lamp and thus the curing.”
For the premium products, there are higher requirements to meet in terms of hardness of the coating and anti-abrasion.
Better materials go into these products. Expectedly, it is best to use a higher quality machine that guarantees high stability and can fully cure different colours of lacquers.
What Mr Bang also liked about the Bϋrkle line, is having more options in customisation. “We can decide and design the line according to the products we want to produce with great support from Bϋrkle’s consultant,” Mr Bang said.
As for the service provided by Bϋrkle, Mr Bang is very satisfied. “Consultation is very good. We were kept updated from the Germany side during the installation period. So far, the machine is running well, spare parts are easy to purchase. We will only need to have the machine checked once a year.”
A MAN OF MANY HATS
A soft-spoken man, Mr Bang is almost shy but has an easy smile. One would not have guessed that behind the easy-going demeanour is a man who has ventured to foreign lands and industries before starting Woodsland.
While Hanoi is always home, Mr Bang had spent a good 12 years in Russia, first as a student studying forestry in university, then as the owner of a wood trading company which he set up with friends. In 2002, seeing that Vietnam was undergoing rapid economic changes, Mr Bang decided to head home to seek his fortune.
“That was the beginning of the good times in Vietnam, I didn’t want to miss the opportunities. My parents were also growing older. As the only son, I wanted to come back and have a family,” Mr Bang said.
Upon returning to Vietnam in 2009, he founded Woodsland, but not before joining a bank. “I invested in a joint-stock bank and was on its board of directors. I was also the chief supervisor of a committee. I went to Singapore many times for meetings with the OCBC bank.”
“So I had two businesses then, banking and furniture manufacturing. I would be working at the bank in the morning and attending to my furniture business in the afternoon. One day, I thought it wasn’t very good to continue working like this. So, I sold all my shares and invested in my furniture business.”
“I just enjoy working here more, so I want to focus on this business and to increase the factory’s capacity. If I had continued to keep my shares in the bank, I would have easily earned much more than what I am making today,” said a smiling Mr Bang.
FUTURE PLANS FOR WOODSLAND
Today, 80 per cent of Woodsland’s products are for the export market, 50 per cent of which are exported to Germany and France, its biggest market. 70 per cent of its products are furniture, with the remaining being plywood and kitchen accessories.
Due to the trade war, Woodsland saw a growth of 20 to 25 per cent in orders from the U.S, and 15 per cent growth in orders from Korean and Vietnamese companies, as there are many new companies opening.
“We want to increase steadily. We will also try to expand both the export and domestic markets. This will be our plans for the next four to five years.”
Mr Bang (from left) with Eddy Ooi, Bϋrkle sales manager (Asia Pacific) and Do Thi Bach Tuyet, General Director of Woodsland