“Joining the luxury furniture market must have been a surprise “turn” for a foreign language teacher. What were the reasons behind this?”
Not just you but all my acquaintances and relatives showed their surprises when I chose to pursue a career in business. I used to teach at Hanoi University’s Department of Foreign Languages but my passion for international furniture drove me to “turn” to furniture business.
In this new field, I had many opportunities to go abroad for business and in one of such trips to Singapore, my partners invited me to visit their headquarters. I was stunned by the moment I put the first step into their office, not only by the grandiosity and modernity but also by the order and completeness to the smallest details of every chair, desk and equipment. “Wow, I am sure that there is no such office in Vietnam. There must be a market in Vietnam!” was my thoughts at that moment. – That was such a deep impression which inspired my business idea.
From your initial fondness to the establishment of PROCE, it has been developed as the leader in luxury office furniture, what is your driven and belief that you would eventually succeed?
When I returned to Vietnam in 2010, I decided to establish PROCE brand aiming at providing overall furniture solution for luxury office. I was also aware of the challenges ahead would not be easy at all because my goal was to serve the most knowledgeable and fastidious customers. However, on the other hand, it satisfied my passion for luxury furniture.
From the beginning, when I opened my business, I did not consider myself to have any kind of special talent or help from outside. Therefore, I and my team could only tried our best with all our hearts. I usually tell my partners that “among hundreds of companies trying to make more money, we are the rare one that works to show our passion and reputation – not just for money.” Our partners simply acknowledged it and agreed to work with us.
Besides, we were so lucky that right from the first transactions, PROCE gained many customers’ trust and affection. No matter how big or small a contract is, we always pay attention to every detail to create an impression of neat and elegance in our customers’ offices. It is such perfectionism that builds customers’ trust as well as reputation, making them willing to entrust their entire office to PROCE for construction.
In our first few months, the first contracts, mostly from domestic and multinational corporations, reinforced my belief that PROCE was on the right track.
I understand that the foundation for PROCE’s success was formed from an early stage, is it correct?
You can say that. One of our key advantages, in the 2010s, there was almost no domestic company in the luxury office furniture market. As I recall, there were just one or two Japan companies trading this kind of product to meet the demand of Japanese companies in Vietnam.
I recognized that there has always been demand from major companies, especially multinational corporations. However, this market was almost empty because there has been no capable supplier qualified for their large-scale projects. So, that’s where the opportunity lies (smile).
The cost for luxury items was not easy to afford, hence, the target customers would certainly not have low requirement. In your opinion, what is the main driving factor behind customer’s decision on spending?
Luxury products are for picky players. Most business executives with international environment experience do not prefer low-standard products due to its aesthetics, use value, and long-term economic benefit. In fact, those wise and picky customers are PROCE’s main partners.
Another reason is that most multinational corporations consider high-quality office furniture a wise investment within at least 5 years of use value. That would help them enhance working efficiency while creating a good impression with their clients and partners.
Which, in turn, is the reason why, instead of selecting a single chair and desk, they come to PROCE for good products and a comprehensive investment solution for their offices.
You said that product demand is mostly from international companies. What are the reasons behind this? Does it originate from customers’ consumption motivation?
In Vietnam, there is a huge difference between foreign companies, multinational corporations and native Vietnamese businesses. While most foreign companies’ investments in working environment are mandatory, the number of domestic businesses paying attention to this is still limited.
Business strategy and corporate culture are two main reasons behind this trend. I am especially impressed with the stories of many Japanese business owners, who hesitate to rent Innova cars for personal commute but are willing to spend billions of dollars for their employees’ chairs and desks. In auditing, accounting and architect companies, they invest thousands of dollars in chairs for their executives so they may still feel comfortable and motivated to dedicate to their works even have to work 8 – 12 hours a day on such chairs.
I personally think that, a company, which may not be the one with the highest salary offers, but managed to create a creativity-stimulating environment placing emphasis on employees’ health, both physical and spiritual, would certainly be the ideal choice for long-term committed talents. Such mindset shifting currently in Vietnam is predictable, however, it may take years for domestic companies to understand it.
“Understanding customers psychology is the start of success” – Does it apply to PROCE?
It is clearly true that right at the moment I established PROCE, I determined our philosophy to not merely selling product but providing overall solution for office, such as, from overall floor planning consultation, office design for leader, to construction and installation… It is when such synchronized investment are performed, the corporate may achieve the look of an international-status organization. Many prominent businesses, especially multinational ones, choose PROCE for its design and consultation of products and services, simply because they can have a peace of mind when partnering with “a companion” like us.
I believe PROCE is currently the best choice in Vietnam’s premium furniture segment. At the moment, we have a huge pile of domestic and international accounts with contracts valued at millions of dollars. Among them are Gentherm Greenfield, MERAP Group, Long Giang, Nghi Son Refinery, Ivy Moda…
Specializing in distributing luxury furniture products while there are many foreign furniture manufacturers, what criteria do you set for choosing the providers?
Normally, when going abroad for survey or participate in international furniture fair, I do not waste my time in studying many brands. On the contrary, I always “pick out” Top 5 brands and manufacturers of highest seniority and prestige and then study their products and proceed to partnership negotiation.
As of today, PROCE managed to “select” 20 best world-class manufacturers such as Zueco, Okamura, Herman Miller, SteelCase… to become their distribution partner in Vietnam market. That’s why, when consulting, the label of “Distributed by PROCE” is simply enough for quality guarantee, leaving the rest of matters to be discussed about the rate and overall design (smile).
Human factor is considered a vital element of any company. In your company, where is human resources place in PROCE’ development path?
Luxury furniture is like luxury items, which heavily depends on the talents of design consultants. I found out that, to serve picky customers, what always matter are delicateness, meticulous and expertise, which requires having a high-profile design team. It is the reason why we are willing to invest from 5 to 7 years in all departments, from design, subject matter to sale consultation to have a qualified team being able to satisfy our customers’ fastidious requirements.
Our staff not only receives systematically training but also send off to foreign business trips for direct product experience and engagement with well-known brands. In addition, we invite foreign experts to take part in our consultation process and update new and state-of-the-art office design trends for key projects.
Collaboration with foreign experts in developing design for projects
What is PROCE’s plan in the constantly changing and integrating Vietnam market? Do you have any expectation for international markets?
My number one goal is to make PROCE become a Hub connecting luxury furniture brands from all over the world with Vietnam market in the upcoming years. At the same time, RICO Group “zones” and does research foreign markets, especially in Southeast Asia markets, in order to acquire an insightful and overall view over the new markets.
Wish you and PROCE achieve more successes in the upcoming years!