14:05 | 10/02/2016 Companies
(VEN) - “To become a skilled cobbler requires assiduousness and dexterity, but to become an excellent shoe maker requires much more,” said Vu Cham, the President of the Management Board of the Giay Viet JSC.
Vu Cham introduces a new shoe design
Cham, has devoted his lifetime to shoe making, still looks sharply attentive despite his age of eighty-four innumerable hardships.
In a day towards the end of the year, he had tea with me and told me his story how he turned from being a simple cobbler to a shoe business owner after four business start-ups thanks to his unceasing dedication to making the best shoes.
Starting from scratch and four business start-ups
Cham was born in 1932, the Year of the Monkey, which is believed to be coupled with hardships. However, he is proud that as he has made a success through resolutely addressing hardships.
He originated from Hoang Dieu Commune’s Phong Lam Village in Hai Duong Province’s An Loc District, nationwide well-known for its shoe making. Some 18 generations of his family have been involved with shoe making, and his ancestors used to make shoes for King Le Thanh Tong, while his parents just farmed for their living.
In 1950, he went to learn shoe-making at his uncle’s home in Hanoi’s Hang Bot Street at his father’s wish. “I was young then but was able to make shoes for mandarins,” he said.
In 1953, he and his two brothers went to Hai Phong to start up a shoe and rubber sandal business, but unfortunately, their products were unable to sell due to changes in taste and they finally closed.
In 1955, he and his family moved to the south and he went to work for a shoe maker, then he opened his own shoe shop the same year in Sai Gon (now Ho Chi Minh City).
In 1957, he decided to open the Thanh Binh Shoe Shop at the Vuon Chuoi Market (District 3, Ho Chi Minh City now). Unfortunately, his home located in Sau Leo (District 1) was burnt down late the same year.
In 1958, he started up again and made great efforts to improve his skills. Fortunately, the France-based Bata shoe company outsourced its products to his shoe shop in 1960, which provided the premise for his Sai Gon Shoe brand launch in 1965.
During the 1970-1975 period, he provided outsourced production for shoe products marketed under 50 quality shoe brand names from Hue to Ca Mau and he gradually became well known.
After the national liberation in 1975, he made shoes for the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Internal Affairs and became a member of the Hoang Dieu Shoe Cooperative. He also opened a shoe shop at home to earn more to bring up his eight children.
In 1990, he left the Hoang Dieu Shoe Cooperative, borrowed money from his relatives and established the Giay Viet JSC, which has been well known with more than 1,000 well-designed and quality products sold under the Vu Cham, Vina Giay, Giay Viet and Vinagico brands. About 70 percent of the company’s products are sold across the country while the remainder is exported.
Cham himself who acts as consultant for the company and President of the Ho Chi Minh City Shoes and Leather Association is very busy with designing shoes despite his old age.
Vu Cham at rare leisure
Kindness is a must in life
Cham has become beloved through his kindness, besides being respected for his success in shoe business.
Since his startup, he has always managed to train his staff in shoe making skills so that they may even outstrip him in the future. Thanks to his efforts, he has helped about 200 of his staff become shoe shop owners with some making great successes of their careers. “For me, I think making a success in business is less difficult than self-improvement in terms of kindness,” he said.
He has been a Buddhist for more than three decades, as he believes Buddhism teaches him how to live and nourish kindness. From a Buddhist point of view, he always highlights the fairness in treating friends, colleagues and staff.
When I expressed my concerns over the future of traditional leather and shoe making crafts, he smiled and said, “Vietnamese have made it a custom of overcoming difficulties through consolidated solidarity, unified strength and finding related opportunities.”
Vu Cham gives an example of a philanthropist capable of overcoming life’s obstacles. He has inspired with his career successes and his willingness to help others.