II, 4, VI, 8….

For the second-to-last full day of the trip, we packed in the last two company visits; Vietnam Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP) and II-VI. First we hopped on the bus and drove to the VSIP headquarters for a short speech and tour. VSIP was started in 1994 by the Prime Ministers of Singapore and Vietnam in an effort to mutually benefit the economies of both countries. This is a rare situation because the Vietnamese rarely works with foreign governments, but in this case it has been successful. VSIP constructs industrial parks for large corporations and remains competitive by offering all in one service. They will build housing, factories, restaurants, a post office, and other infrastructure so that there is very little left for their clients to do. Another advantage that VSIP has over its competition is its relationship with Singapore allows for simple foreign investment.

After VSIP we headed to a nearby mall (built by VSIP) for a quick lunch and some time to explore (the massage chairs and arcade were definite highlights) before we set off to our second site visit of the day. II-VI is a company that is actually headquartered in the US, but has a branch in on of VSIP’s industrial parks in Vietnam. II-VI is a company that creates a variety of electrical components ranging from heating/cooling systems to sapphire glass built for specialized military jets. Working in Vietnam allows II-VI to keep labor costs quite low so they are able to produce a huge quantity of many of their less refined goods. The more refined goods that require more engineering skill rather than basic labor are still produced in the US. One of the biggest challenges II-VI faces every year is employee turnover. The national Tet Holiday in Vietnam gives every employee the chance to return home to their family, and many chose not to return for many months. This obviously creates a huge issue for II-VI that they attempt to manage by strategically handing out bonuses and promoting from within to increase loyalty. Despite this issue, II-VI’s ability to create products that nobody else can produce, alongside mass-produced products, is what makes it a successful company.

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