#01 | Mai Huu Tin and his journey to save Truong Thanh Furniture Corporation from a trillion-VND loss


#01 | Mai Huu Tin and his journey to save Truong Thanh Furniture Corporation from a trillion-VND loss

Mr Mai Huu Tin invested and agreed to innovate Truong Thanh Furniture Corporation (TTF) in 2017, despite the company’s accumulated losses of up to trillions of VND and a low-quality inventory scandal.

By December last year, this leading wood processing enterprise had declared itself “debt-free” and set its sights on the 1 billion USD game in ASEAN. Before Truong Thanh Furniture (TTF), Mr Tin established himself as “the Rescue Boss” by successfully reviving Toan My Production and Trading JSC in 2007 and Saigon Paper Corporation in 2013.

Mr Tin believes there is no place for “dictatorship” in reviving these businesses but that many small innovations, with the participation of all employees in the enterprise, must be implemented to achieve great success.


mai hữu tín

Mr Mai Hữu Tín joined The Next Power Talkshow

The first episode of the talk show “The Next Power,” which aired on May 12, told the story of Dr Mai Huu Tin’s famous brands. Mr Tin was the Chairman of the Vietnam Young Entrepreneurs Association (Class IV, 2011-2014), a member of the Prime Minister’s Research Committee for Private Economic Development, and a member of the XII and XIII National Assembly. He is currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors of U&I Investment Joint Stock Company (UNIGROUP), which conducts investment and corporate governance in various fields.

“If I had a choice, I would use the word ‘turn around’ instead of rescue.’ “We improve ordinary businesses,” Mr Tin explained at The Next Power.

The talk show series “The Next Power” is co-produced by S-World and VnExpress e-newspaper, with guests as entrepreneurs to discover the story of finding “new power” for businesses through innovation, bringing businesses to life, and overcoming the most difficult times in the development process.

The talk show is hosted by “shark” Truong Ly Hoang Phi, Vice Chairwoman of Ho Chi Minh City Young Entrepreneurs Association and former General Director of Vintech City (Vingroup), Founder cum Chairwoman and General Director of IBP, and Mr Le Tri Thong, Vice Chairman cum CEO of Phu Nhuan Jewelry Joint Stock Company (PNJ).

The program utilized intellectual products of Vietnamese entrepreneurs around the world, such as the Ohmni technology assistant robot (by Dr Vu Duy Thuc), Mishima – a 3D-printed chair and ottoman set (by Le Diep Kieu Trang and Sonny Vu), and was held at Landmark 81, Southeast Asia’s second-tallest building.

“When we talk about innovation, people usually think of new technology or products,” Mr Le Tri Thong explained. “However, with The Next Power, we’ll be looking at old and new strategies that can rescue and turn around businesses.”

How can we innovate to “turn around” failing businesses?

Mr Mai Huu Tin’s U&I Construction Corporation acquired TTF shares of Truong Thanh Furniture Corporation in 2017 following the rapid withdrawal of Tan Lien Phat Construction Investment Company (a subsidiary of the Vingroup) after discovering numerous errors in inventory data, short revenue, and debts of this wood processing company. Previously, TTF had a bank loan of up to 1,900 billion VND in 2013 due to using financial leverage to raise capital on the stock exchange.

After four years of leadership by the leadership team led by Mr Mai Huu Tin, Truong Thanh Furniture announced in December 2021 that it had paid off the last debt with the bank and successfully offered 59.5 million individual shares to 18 individual investors, earning 594.6 billion dongs.

At the time, the Investment Review cited Yuanta Securities Vietnam’s assessment of Mr Mai Huu Tin’s solid management and financial capacity, which played a crucial role in reviving the Truong Thanh Wood brand.

Truong Thanh Furniture is a company that manufactures interior and exterior furniture for residential and tourist projects. It distributes it in both domestic and international markets. Truong Thanh used to serve low-value segment products, relying on cheap Vietnamese labour as the primary competitive factor, and did not create any long-term competitive advantage.

Mai Hữu Tín


Mr Tin stated at the program that he had renewed Truong Thanh Furniture in three ways:

  1. Invest in design to create superior and higher-value products.
  2. Invest in technology that is appropriate for Vietnam so that it can meet the more significant needs of the external market.
  3. Innovate governance so that all employees in the enterprise have a voice and can participate in the business change process.

With positive results, this businessman hopes that in the next five years, the company will be five times more significant in terms of scale than it is now, as well as have an advanced management model to be able to “turn around” any unit in the furniture industry that is having problems.

“For me, that is more important than financial results”, Mr Tin emphasized the role of the management apparatus. “That’s the backbone of the change so that we can scale it up. That is what Vietnam needs most.”

Referring to digital transformation in management, Mr Tin said that we are getting technology help to measure everything that happens in business life. From here, managers plan to exceed metrics, create more excellent value or be more productive, and share the results that employees make with themselves.

Not only Truong Thanh Furniture, Mr Tin and his colleagues also innovated U&I Agriculture Joint Stock Company (Unifarm) when they asked the world’s best seed scientists to create a more delicious Vietnamese cantaloupe but cheaper, creating innovation into competitiveness and eliminating this Chinese agricultural product from the domestic market.

Mai Huu Tin: “Is there “disruptive innovation” in Vietnam?”

From a manager’s perspective for many years, this “no retirement age” man believes that Vietnamese entrepreneurs should approach and solve problems by doing better every day by taking steps to make changes but bring about the same final effect, also known as “incremental innovation”.

“Unfortunately, young people who love technology in Vietnam prefer big words, so they don’t care about having to do such things,” Mr Tin shared. “I don’t believe that destructive or ‘disruptive innovation’ can happen in Vietnam.”

Mr Tin has applied the incremental innovation method to Truong Thanh Furniture by making small step-by-step changes from people, production apparatus, and technology to customers and target market… These changes, all small innovations, add up to a significant result.

In particular, concerning production activities, the management of Truong Thanh Furniture has been considering ways to save the rawest materials while keeping the final cost as low as possible for the Vietnamese people. Since then, the company has travelled abroad to learn about world standards lacking in Vietnam, particularly raw material standards, to make the most of that material.

Even during a trade war between the United States and China, the leadership quickly turned to invest in products where Vietnam had the opportunity to strengthen its competitiveness compared to China. Towards the Covid-19 crisis, after experiencing the inevitable “falling point” to serve life-saving activities, Vietnam has transformed rapidly, opening opportunities for businesses to come to the world earlier. At the same time, other countries remain confused and trapped in the pandemic’s vicious circle.

“The world’s largest High Point furniture fair in the United States recently had no trace of the Chinese, which is becoming an advantage for Vietnam,” Mr Tin said.

The United States used to import most of its bedroom furniture from China. Still, by 2020, the proportion of imports from China had dropped to 7.02 per cent, while Vietnam had risen to become the largest supplier, with import proportions reaching up to 50 per cent.

However, the picture of the business “turning around” is not entirely rosy. The businessman who carries this “gene” of business innovation must also admit that Truong Thanh Furniture is only one of the hundreds of businesses in which he has invested, many of which have failed.

Entrepreneurs believe that innovation is not a formula because when a formula is applied, it is only successful at that time. Each innovation builds a foundation of common knowledge to build future innovations for other cases.

“Changes happen all the time; that’s part of the plan; the plan is to have room to adapt to the new status quo,” Mr Tin explained. “Do things if you want to be able to do great things.” Be small at first, and do it well. We need a source of accumulation before we invest in riskier ventures.”

Gỗ Trường Thành

The “fire” of the head empowers the company to the “No. 1” spot.

Mr Mai Huu Tin stated that after eliminating bad debts for Truong Thanh Furniture, the company would enter a game worth at least USD 1 billion to lead the ASEAN furniture wood market.

“If you want to do something interesting in business, you want to be number one, or at the very least number two, in that industry, never number three,” Mr Tin said. “When the destination is so clear, calculating the steps one by one year to get there has already become a specific schedule that we must adhere to.”

Mr Tin considers two significant factors in this schedule: shareholder capital and executives, as well as how to combine the interests of both groups. If the interests of shareholders and the management team are aligned, there will be enough resources and “fire” to effect change.

According to Mai Huu Tin, the most challenging aspect of converting Truong Thanh Furniture is finding the right people. After completing the first steps and making a name for yourself, the next step is to expand the company and hire the right people to handle the process. The fire in the heart of the head cannot be changed when turning the business.

“It’s easy to start a fire, but it’s difficult to keep it going.” Mr Tin emphasized that “the person in charge of the game must always be the person who can always create that fire in the heart of the person who runs his or her business.”

Mr Tin also stated that the leader must create an innovative corporate culture in all departments to prevent the leader’s “dictatorship” from stifling creativity in the enterprise. This is built by establishing a vision, and a joint mission, affirming the core values, and demonstrating the practical benefits of innovation to all employees, motivating them to carry out their rights and responsibilities in organizational change.

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