“Nothing is impossible. ” It’s one of THP’s seven core values and everyone, from the founder through to those on the factory floor, not only knows it by heart but also puts it into practice every day.
At THP, we’re empowered to think differently and encouraged to approach problems with a willing spirit. We strive to keep going until the desired results have been achieved and to accomplish them with a can-do attitude.
This spirit infuses our company, but it’s been put to its utmost test during Covid-19. Is there any goal more challenging than trying to maintain production output during one of the world’s strictest lockdowns? It’s also very difficult to keep your spirits up if you’ve been separated from family and friends for a lengthy period of time as we have all been in Vietnam this year.
Yet THP’s management and staff have risen admirably to the challenges presented by the pandemic. They’ve been “Giants,” especially over the last few months after the Delta variant took off. In 2020, Vietnam had one of the world’s lowest infection and death rates. Sadly, that changed this spring when cases shot up more than ten-fold (from around 4,500 in April to the 700,000 mark by late September).
However, our company’s values, combined with our experience managing large-scale production facilities and logistics, means that we’ve been able to successfully keep re-configuring our operations to meet the government’s evolving directives to limit Covid-19’s spread.
One of the first things we did was to set up a quick response committee comprising the board and division heads. One of its key tasks is making sure that our internal communications are clear and effective.
It’s absolutely essential in a crisis like this. One of the first things that many people do in a crisis is panic, so we wanted a mechanism that would enable us to swiftly counter any false or misleading rumors from spreading across the company.
But the committee’s main priority is making sure that our employees not only feel safe but are safe too. People rather than profits are more important at a time like this.
It reflects another one of THP’s seven core values: “Be Responsible to Community and Society.” My own family also has another set of values that includes: “Contribute: make a positive difference to others and think beyond self”.
My father told each THP staff member that we’re all soldiers courageously co-existing to combat Covid-19 together. There are two main traits that characterize any good soldier: discipline and esprit de corps. Both have been much in evidence over the past few months as we implemented the government’s three-on-the-spot policy to keep production running by eating, sleeping, and working in the factories.
This happened in July, when Ho Chi Minh City and a number of provinces including neighboring Binh Duong, where our headquarters are based, went into lockdown. It was a mammoth operation to put this system in place but we managed it because everyone rose to the challenge, exhibiting self-discipline and thoughtfulness towards their colleagues.
We all had to do things that we hadn’t done before: accepting and carrying out new responsibilities to ensure that we maintained the utmost safety standards. Adaptability, helping out, and spreading positive energy has been the order of the day.
For the past couple of months, the large open spaces of two of our factories, including the one at our Binh Duong HQ, have been taken over by a sea of blue tents, each evenly spaced at least two meters apart in line with the government’s 5K standards. Disinfectant is sprayed every 24 hours and there are hand sanitizer stations everywhere.
The 5K standards were issued by the Department of Health in 2020 and get their name because each standard starts with the letter K in Vietnamese: “Khẩu trang” (wear a face mask), “Khử khuẩn” (disinfect), “khoảng cách” (distance), “không tụ tập” (no gatherings) and “khai báo y tế” (fill in the health declaration form).
THP’s senior managers have been trying to ensure that every single member of staff feels looked after. It’s always the small details that make the difference in terms of health and wellbeing.
We brought in doctors to answer any questions that staff members had. And we made sure to ask our staff plenty ourselves to make life as comfortable and safe as possible: is the water you’re using to shower hot enough? Have you been issued a fan for your tent?
We also haven’t just been providing basic meals, but have thought very carefully about our menus. We have been cooking food that’s nutritious, delivered at regular intervals, and under hygienic conditions. Our company’s ethos is all about producing healthy energy drinks and we extended that to the food we’ve been serving to the roughly 1,500 staff members camping at the factory.
Meals are balanced: rice, a few different types of vegetables, and a protein. We ask everyone if there are other types of food they’d like. We also provide free vitamin supplements: Vitamin C, D, and E.
My mother, Madame Nu, has always viewed THP’s staff members as part of an extended family. Pre-pandemic she would send employees’ children a gift and personalized letter on Vietnam’s June 1 Children’s Day. She brought everyone Mooncakes to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival. One time, she even personally cooked three thousand pots of stewed pork.
So it’s been no surprise to see her doing something similar during Covid-19. All the workers at our four national factories have received care packages containing vegetables, dried fruit, and pastries. She also sent essential food and medicine packages to employees and other THP stakeholders who’ve been stuck in remote areas, or under quarantine (at its strictest in August, the military was delivering food under the government’s stay-at-home order in Ho Chi Minh City).
Thankfully, the vaccine rate is now growing steadily and there’s been an easing of restrictions since mid-September, which we hope will continue. But we all know that the pandemic is not going to go away in the near future.
Companies like THP, the government, and consumers all have complementary roles to play in supporting the domestic economy as it recovers from the fourth wave. Risk is something that all senior managers learn to handle. Covid-19 is one of many risks that we will need to continue to take into account.
The government has also been putting in place numerous economic policies to support businesses during this difficult time and they will need to continue too. Preferential loans and tax exemptions are two obvious examples. It’s estimated that 80,000 Vietnamese companies closed during the first seven months of the year. It is important to keep that number in check.
And finally, there’s the consumer. We have a very loyal customer base for our products and we value them very highly. Customer satisfaction is our first core value.
But as a society, we can all help to support local and national businesses by consuming domestic products. It is a great way to support businesses through the crisis and out onto the other side.
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