A former soldier’s entrepreneurial spirit fuels the success of Mai Linh Corporation.
Once the war was over, Ho Huy was determined to continue fighting, this time for business success.
The former soldier studied automobile engineering in the former Soviet Union, managed laborers for an automobile and tractor repair factory, and worked as a driver and car mechanic for a local firm before deciding to start his own business.
As the country adopted the doi moi (reform) economic policies, Ho Huy glimpsed an opportunity to do business. He wanted to provide a good taxi service, like the ones he’d seen abroad, to local residents. He felt as the economy opened up, demand for taxis world open as well.
Mai Linh General Director and Chairman Ho Huy
With very limited resources, he obtained two taxis and assembled a motley crew.
That was in 1993.
Huy’s Mai Linh Corporation is now the largest taxi company in the Indochina region, with over 7,000 vehicles operating in 53 of Vietnam’s 64 cities and provinces nationwide, as well as in the United States, Laos and Cambodia.
General Director and Chairman Ho Huy says his firm’s prestige has unceasingly increased since its establishment in 1993.
The business has been transformed into a group operating in a wide range of different fields, including transport, tourism, training, finance, construction, trade, consultancy and information technology, with over 22,000 employees and a registered capital of VND980 billion (US$54.4 million). Mai Linh is now a well-known trademark.
“Grabbing opportunities is the most important factor for the success of each business. Mai Linh was luckily set up during the doi moi period. At the right time, we mapped out a suitable development strategy and built our corporate culture,” Huy says.
His group also received the support from his old comrades nationwide. He is proud that many children of veterans and ex-servicemen are now working for Mai Linh, he said.
However, it has not all been smooth sailing and Huy has faced many daunting challenges. For example, when gasoline prices fluctuate strongly. In the Asian financial crisis of 1997, he lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in just a single day due to the dramatic fluctuations in foreign exchange rates.
The struggles of the early start-up period actually left Huy reluctant about keeping the business open. But the determination the 54-year-old had developed as a soldier from the age of 16 stood him in good stead.
“I borrowed money, mortgaged my house and land, and cajoled other company members to do the same to save the company,” Huy recalls.
Huy has even more ambitious development plans for Mai Linh. “We have plans to provide transport services in all 64 cities and provinces. In 2010, we are set to open in the provinces of Bac Kan, Ha Giang and Cao Bang.”
And that’s just for the domestic market. Huy has sent his sights on expanding Mai Linh’s presence to East Europe, Japan, Cuba and South America.
“We will intensify investment for development, so that Mai Linh will become a global trademark, and Vietnam’s pride in the nation’s integration process.”
Reported by Bao Van