Relentless ambition drives Lao man’s success with grilled pork chain

Most young people in Laos want to work for big companies, international organisations or the government after completing their education, but MrChanphoneVongkham always had different ideas, which led him to create his own chain of outlets selling grilled pork.
The 26-year-old was born in Huaphan province but his parents moved to Vientiane in 2000, where he continued his secondary studies. When he was in Grade 5, his friends suggested he should join a business network from a neighbouring country.
In this business, one has to register as a representative of a foreign company and sell its products in order to get a percentage of the total sales. Before starting his business,

Mr Chanphone Vongkham makes a coconut shake for a customer.

Mr Chanphone had to complete several training courses arranged by the foreign company.
“The training covered lots of things, including marketing strategy and speaking skills,” he said. After completing the training, he decided to fully devote himself to the business instead of continuing his studies.
“Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful in this career with the company but I did not give up. I continued with another company. But again, I failed,” he added.
He went back to his studies and after graduating from secondary school decided to start his own business by buying the franchise of a grilled pork outlet because this was one of his favourite foods.
But at the time, he had only 170,000 kip, not even enough to buy a cart on which to place the grilled pork.
“Instead of giving up, I used my talking skills, since I was in the networking business, to talk to the owner of the franchise and convinced her that I really want to sell her products even though I didn’t have enough money. It was my luck that she gave me all the materials and the pork that I could grill and sell,” Mr Chanphone said.
“I want to say thank you to her because if she hadn’t given me that chance, I may not have become successful,” he added.
On the very first day, he sold 47 sticks of grilled pork. He asked the franchise’s owner for one more cart and hired his friend to run it.
As the days passed, he found he was not making much profit despite good sales. He then got the idea of establishing his own grilled pork brand.
“After I saved some money, I ordered pork from a neighbouring country and found that this made a lot of difference to the profits,” he said.
The pork was becoming very popular with his customers and he decided to expand his small business. In 2016 he registered his business with the Sikhottabong Department of Industry and Commerce under the brand Thao Kae Noi Wai Loun Loi Larn.
“The name came to me after I watched the story of a businessman from Thailand who had been very successful in his business since a young age,” said Mr Chanphone.
From starting his brand with two shops, he now has 43 outlets.
After running his brand for a year, he decided to expand his products to attract more customers. He then zeroed in on coconut shakes and this has become another popular product for Thao Kae Noi Wai Loun Loi Larn.
More than 90 percent of the ingredients used in Mr Chanphone’s products are imported, which sometimes causes difficulties due to the exchange rate and the taxes involved.
“Running this business requires a lot of skills because I have to solve problems and improve things every day, but I feel excited and love it all,” he said. 
The profit from selling his products as well as franchises is sometimes more than 70 million kip a month during the peak season, when total sales hit 270 million kip.
“In the future, I plan to add other products, such as sandwiches and mulberry juice, in the hope of attracting more customers,” he said.
He has bought a plot of land to grow mulberry trees to produce the juice he will need.
“The trees will be grown organically, which will benefit consumers. At the same time, I will cut costs by not using chemical fertiliser,” he said.
MrChanphone continues to dream big and plan for the future. “I am very proud of my success, which I achieved even though I did not complete higher education. And I achieved everything by myself,” he said proudly.

 

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update June 06, 2018)


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