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E-Culture: A new dimension of success in Esquel

‘Grooming people from within’ is one of the people’s strategy at Esquel

There is nothing more important than learning to change. Sir Winston Churchill, the former British Prime Minister, had said in one of his famous quotes, ‘to improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often’. The bottom – line is that our success in this competing world depends on our mindset and approach that is receptive to change. It is this mindset that shapes the ‘e-culture’ strategy of Esquel Group, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of premium cotton shirts.

When Team Apparel Resources visited the premises of Esquel Group and met Kent Teh, Director of Garment Manufacturing, Esquel Garment Manufacturing (Vietnam) Co., Ltd., what unravelled was the man’s exceptional vision that has today taken his company to great heights in Vietnam. The company already has a significant presence worldwide – from China in the North to Mauritius in the South, and from the US in the West to Japan in the East.

Kent Teh, Director of Garment Manufacturing, Esquel Garment Manufacturing (Vietnam) Co., Ltd.

In today’s competitive scenario, e-culture has taken the lead in the list of Esquel Group’s priorities with quality and price taking a back seat.

“Quality and price are always important but the only way you can excel is to compete in corporate culture and that is e-culture,” averred Teh while substantiating on the relevance of this concept.

The four-decade-old Hong Kong based enterprise has successfully established its foothold in Vietnam ever since it entered the nation in 2001, forging ahead with this ideology. So, what’s ‘e-culture’? It’s a distinctive corporate culture adopted by the company to bring about positive changes everywhere – from company and community to society. It includes under its vast domain concepts like ethics, environment, exploration, excellence and education. The strength of Esquel Group is based on its principles which each person working at Esquel is expected to maintain: impeccable ethical behaviour under all circumstances.

E-culture is a distinctive corporate culture adopted by the company to bring about positive changes everywhere – from company and community to society. It includes under its vast domain concepts like ethics, environment, exploration, excellence and education.

‘Exploration’ follows ‘ethics’ and ‘environment’ closely – the principal components of ‘e-culture’. Investment in people, process and technology to seek solutions to problems is the best way to add value to clients and Esquel has been committed to make this happen.

“We promote ‘no shouting’. Nobody can shout on anybody; it is just not acceptable,“ Teh states rightfully.

As Teh states rightfully, “We promote ‘no shouting’. Nobody can shout on anybody; it is just not acceptable. We spend a lot and we want to prove that by doing ethical business, we are going beyond compliance.” Ethics is nothing but following one’s own conscience, respecting other’s properties particularly with regard to intellectual capital and obeying the law.

The number of employees has risen from 3,000 to 12,000 in less than a decade

The growth of Esquel Group in Vietnam has been phenomenal in the last decade. While it had a little over 3,000 employees in 2008, the number has today touched 12,000 – four times growth in just 10 years. The company produces more than 2.8 million pieces per month in Vietnam.The company also has its own fabric mill; while 100 per cent of its knit fabric and 90 per cent of its woven fabric caters to its factories, only 10 per cent of its woven fabric are sold to its strategic customers. “Selling some percentage of woven fabrics to customers also helps us analyse and control the quality of our material,” added Teh.

Today, Esquel doesn’t believe in migrating to other nations – an off-beat approach adopted by the group. Teh confirms, “Every time you move to different countries, you lose skill and experience and that’s the reason we have not moved to any other country in last 17 years. Vietnam is the last country we moved to.” Now, this defines another facet of e-culture.

While the company has been promoting ethical business, its efforts to harmonise with the environment also tops its e-culture agenda. The Green Committee has been regularly organizing activities that brings its people closer to nature and understands the relevance of going ‘Green’.

In fact, Esquel Group has been lately very active in conducting events like ‘Integral Conversation Forum’. Speakers across all industries, representatives from NGOs, Government officials as well as educationists attend the forum to share their views and ideas about environmental sustainability. There couldn’t be better ways than this to know and promote ‘Green’.

‘Exploration’ follows ‘ethics’ and ‘environment’ closely – the principal components of ‘e-culture’. Investment in people, process and technology to seek solutions to problems is the best way to add value to clients and Esquel has been committed to make this happen.

Esquel Group produces more than 2.8 million pieces per month in Vietnam

In its endeavour to explore new possibilities to make the business better, Teh is determined to implement ‘zero overtime’ in his factories in Vietnam. “People run your company and if we ask them to work for 10 hours, how will they sustain? Going forward, I am planning to start zero overtime policy by 2020. At present, we are having an overtime of 16 hours per month and I am confident of attaining zero overtime,” mentioned the Director with a futuristic vision. One of the company’s factories in North Vietnam has already achieved zero overtime. Very few have understood ‘people strategies’ better.

‘Grooming people from within’ and ‘caring for employees’ are also two key people strategies at Esquel. The company has been continuously grooming people through regular training and growth opportunities, in order to ensure success both in their current roles and their future endeavours.

Esquel Group consistently strives to deliver ‘excellence’ – a trait that made them the pioneers of quality over these years. “The efforts to excel will always make you more efficient and more effective. Just like Intel on computers speaks credibility, I hope one day the ‘Esquel’ logo on any garment in any part of the world will speak only ‘excellence in quality’,” averred Teh with confidence.

The company already has an enviable list of clients that boasts of names such as Hugo Boss, Nike and Tommy Hilfiger among several others. However, the company is open to work with all new customers as long as they are strategically fit.

Last but not least, education also forms the core of the e-culture strategy. Through knowledge management and knowledge sharing, the group has been laying strong emphasis on education and discovery. The company has also been at the forefront in supporting the less fortunate people in the community receive better education.

Among its several contributions in the field of education is the Esquel-Yang Yuan Loong Education Foundation, which is a non-profit foundation dedicated to providing and improving educational opportunities for children.

Continual focus on these e-components and making them a part of the system are today instrumental in making Esquel an enterprise that comprises talented and professional individuals from a multitude of backgrounds. Teh substantiates this philosophy by remarking, “E-culture is the guiding principle for us to do business, it is in our DNA and the right way to ‘make a difference’ to this industry.”

It is the realization of profitable business results, achieved through its ‘e-culture’ practices, that is enabling continuous growth and prosperity of the company and its people in Vietnam and all over the world.