Panels & Furniture Asia Sep/Oct 2018

September / October 2018 • Issue 5 • PANELS & FURNITURE ASIA 30 FURNITURE MANUFACTURING Mr Liem conducting an inspection in his factory But there is one area in which Lam Viet does not have any issues with – its supply of materials. “A lot of new forests have been planted in the United States, so in the future, there will be no issues with our supply of red oak or white oak,” Mr Liem elaborated. “There is also teak in Vietnam, though there isn’t much in terms of quantity and quality isn’t that good – in fact, we import around 98 per cent of our teak from Central America, so we don’t have a problem there either. And because there are somany acacia plantations in Central Vietnam, we buy our acacia domestically.” As for the labour shortage, Mr Liem has been addressing the issue by investing in human resources and educating workers on operating the machinery he has been bringing in. Though a clear budget has not been set aside, the amount of money Mr Liem has pumped into the programme is substantial. “When we realised that we needed to invest in human resources, over six to seven years, my sons built and implemented enterprise resource planning (ERP) for Lam Viet, continuously training our employees,” Mr Liem explained. BIFA WOOD VIETNAM With BIFA Wood Vietnam 2018 coming soon to Vietnam, Mr Liem may have just found a place in which to find machinery suitable for his company, having found that woodworking machinery companies in Vietnam still have a long way to go before reaching the calibre of those from Italy and Germany. “We will certainly visit the show, and hopefully we will be able to find the machinery and technology we need there. The show coming to Binh Duong means that it’s far more convenient than flying to other countries,” he added enthusiastically. “Vietnam is the future of the wood processing industry, and our goal is to have a brand new factory with more machines and automation, with more technology.” THE FUTURE Five years ago, Lam Viet catered to small buyers rather than the large few they do now, and had no reason to spend on big, high- volume machinery or expensive equipment. But today, as Mr Liemcontinues looking to the future, spying trends and preparing his company, many things weigh heavily on hismind. “In my opinion, the trend – which will affect many European and American buyers – is that they have been moving their orders from China to Asian countries, and it’s been growing consistently over the past two to three years as factories in the United States have a tax of 45 per cent as compared to the zero per cent in Vietnam,” he explained. “Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, they don’t have enough potential right now to raise their volume of products. Malaysia does, they have the industry and the technology, but labour cost there is high and many of our customers have moved to us from Malaysia. I think because of these factors, Vietnam has a huge competitive advantage. And because of that, I think there will be 10 to 15 per cent of growth in Vietnamese exports over the next five years.” ℗