By Donna Kreutz
“Share happiness.” That’s the logo of the Vietnam water treatment company in Hanoi founded by Nguyen Dong Ha and his famous actress sister Hoa Thuy (pronounced “twee”). With a total focus on customer service, the most rewarding part of their business is to see happy customers.
“The water in Vietnam is terrible. Water is on the mind of most Vietnamese because of poor quality, concerns about pollution and the bad taste. The country is host to a huge and growing bottled water market, an inefficient way to bring good water to the home. So the family decision was made to start the water business to bring good water to the good people of Hanoi and then expand to all of Vietnam, offering a better life through better water,” Ha said.
The siblings brought a passion to their business four years ago that is still evident today. The Shaha Vietnam Joint Stock Company started slowly but now continues to grow rapidly. Hanoi is the base of operations, but the list of sub-dealers is growing steadily. “Today the residential market is the focus and commercial may come in the future,” Ha said. Ha and Thuy soon plan to expand to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), thus serving the two biggest markets in this country of 90 million people, then follow with expansions across Vietnam and later, to other Southeast Asia countries.
Thuy is the star of popular films shown throughout Southeast Asia and currently is the lead in a top-rated police show on Vietnamese television. She recently recruited a couple of young men to join the family business after meeting them in a karate class, learning martial arts and sword fighting for the movies. Because of her celebrity, it is natural that she focuses on marketing, promotions and videos. She follows her passion for high customer service. “She is the face of the company and a lovely face it is,” her brother said. “I agree,” said Don Miller, RainSoft’s Regional Director for Asia. (RainSoft, a division of Aquion, was established in Illinois in1953 and grew to be an international company, with dealerships in the US and 20 other countries.)
Offering whole-house water conditioning
Thuy relates especially well to premium customers who have beautiful villas in and around Hanoi and want to improve their lives by improving the water throughout the house. That’s one reason Ha and Thuy decided to expand from selling filters to offering whole-house water conditioning.
“The water is not getting better on its own and as the economy grows, awareness of water treatment needs grows,” Ha said. “After a thorough Internet search, RainSoft was found, investigated and determined to be the best fit for the company—not the often poor-quality Chinese products from the north. There are cheaper products, but ‘Made in America’ still carries great credibility in Vietnam and around the world.”
Ha connected with Miller, who agreed with Ha. “We are considered the premium brand all throughout Asia, probably because of our lifetime warranty and our numerous rigorous certifications, especially ISO and the Minister of Health Education, which takes a full year to qualify.”
“In Hanoi some areas have terrible-tasting water that is very hard, with traces of iron and other undesirables that the RainSoft systems easily remove,” Ha said. “The biggest challenge was the first whole-house conditioner we sold to a customer with terrible water and low pressure on a top-floor installation. That took several hours to install and master on-the-job. But with persistence, all was completed satisfactorily.” That challenge continues. “Most of the installations in the large villas are on the third, fourth or even fifth floor, requiring some tough installers to carry the units, salt and installation supplies to the roof or top floor, often up ladders.” Miller added, “Ground is expensive, so buildings go up.”
Well trained staff and sub-dealers
Shaha Vietnam employees were trained using a unique RainSoft iPad app with video and a written presentation that included information on the sale, the closing, the current state of the water and more, Ha said. Miller also goes there to train the Shaha sub-dealers and work with Thuy on marketing. “She’s a great actress, smart and fun.”
Miller enjoys these visits to Vietnam, partly because his first experience there was flying helicopter combat missions during the war. “I already knew them to be smart and tough but I found the true nature of the Vietnamese people to be friendly, fun, warm, giving and a delight to be with. They’re great people.
“On my last visit, I got a chance to be downtown with Vietnamese friends and see a harvest celebration of 20,000 people with music, food, kids, adults, a big tug-of-war on main street, kids throwing lighted spinners up into air 100 feet, boys and girls laughing and holding hands. That’s the way it should be. It is more our nature that we reach out to each other in friendship and a sharing of blessings.”