Day 3: Cohort 10 experience textile manufacturing

Krista Scimeca, Sabrina Singleton & Maureen Karkovice – Esquel Group

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Tuesday morning we visited the Esquel Group garment manufacturing facility. Going into this visit I was particularly interested to witness one of these facilities first-hand, especially given the high-profile clients they service and the media perceptions of textile manufacturing in developing countries.

Esquel Group is truly a remarkable company in this arena. From the moment we walked in the room, we could see that this company truly cared about their employees and about conducting business with integrity. The word “ethics” was written in huge letters on the conference room wall, along with their four other key values: environment, exploration, education, and excellence. These terms truly sum up what Esquel is all about. They are very innovative with their vertically integrated industry systems, from micro-financing and coordinating with cotton farmers, to spinning, combing, dying, weaving, production of buttons and labels, washing, pressing, finishing, inspection – Esquel executes all of these steps, and more. The chairman’s priority to strong corporate responsibility is apparent – the company is committed to absolute quality and efficiency, but is equally invested in the well-being of their workers and provision of environmentally friendly methods. Garment manufacturing facilities consume large amounts of water, and Esquel has invested in massive water treatment facilities to treat and purify the used water to drinking standards before the water is discarded. They invest in extensive training and development, as well as numerous entertainment and sporting activities for their employees. They strive for “Fun People serving Happy Customers,” and it shows.

“Esquel was especially interesting to me because I am currently doing feasibility research and strategic planning for a business idea that would affect the cotton/textile industry” said Sabrina Singleton who appreciated the overlap between school and professional work, and found it to positively benefit her. “These are the kind of reasons that the Stetson EMBA program is especially valuable to me.”

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We took a tour of the facility after our discussion, and the conditions of the factory were very clean and well-organized. The workers were absolute experts at their task and seemed to enjoy their work, although there does appear to be some turnover at the early stages of employment. Everyone we smiled and said hello to smiled right back at us. This trip was eye-opening, and although there are players in the garment industry that certainly fit the sweatshop media stereotype, there are also companies such as Esquel group that are committed to not only conducting business well but making a difference in the industry. This focus on ethics and environment is dually appreciated by their top customers, and has given Esquel a competitive advantage to survive and succeed in a declining industry.

Cody Hampton – Energy in Vietnam
PowerIn America having power for your day to day operations is not really a concern for most people or businesses, but in Vietnam this is a real issue residents face every day. The energy system has not been upgraded for many years and they continue to add additional cable through the city when needed, creating the mess of wires that can be see in parts of Ho Chi Minh City and other regions of Vietnam. The residents of the city also deal with regular black outs because of the system’s inability to cope with demand at times. This is a very big issue and risk for Vietnam as they continue to develop and expand growth. As the country attracts new foreign businesses to start up operations here, many companies are very concerned about having enough power to fit the needs of their operations.

The city is already looking to improve this issue as seen in the new District 7 area the city, which is being built with a much more modern power system. This section of Ho Chi Minh City is very new and is a very expensive part of the city to live in. Most residents of this area are Expats or property investors. The next 5-10 years will be very interesting to see how this area grows, expands and impacts the other districts of this city.

For more on the power in Ho Chi Minh City & Vietnam, watch Sabrina & Margo’s Vlog