Dan On was an 18-year-old
PHOTO BY ARLEN REDEKOP /PNG
The story started in 1979, Mr. On Dan Khuong was a Chinese man living in Vietnam. It was immediately after the Vietnam War, at a time when people were living in despair and he had to leave Vietnam. Eventually, he was sponsored to Canada by the Hope Lutheran Church. On Dan Khuong was later adopted by a struggling but kind-hearted couple in the countryside of British Columbia named George and Irene Kavanagh.
Dan On and George Kavanagh would travel together PHOTO BY ARLEN REDEKOP /PNG
George and Irene also had a son and daughter. To earn a livelihood, he joined George and Irene at their work at the small granola cereal factory. He was taught to do everything at the factory, from the smallest task to the most important, from cleaning/sweeping to bagging the beans and supervisory and then management as the company grew from 2 to 70 staff. Approximately 10 years later, George and Irene decided to retire and sold the company, so Dan decided to strike out on his own.
Dan On Products in Sunrise Market, Canada PHOTO BY MARK VAN MANEN /Vancouver Sun
Dan On Foods Binh Duong, Vietnam PHOTO BY DAN ON FOODS
He started with nothing; he bought a small shop where their daily revenue was about $400, enough to feed a family and hire a few staff. Shortly after the birth of his first child, his business began to grow to a daily turnover of $1,000. Soon after, Dan put aside the store business and started an import and distribution food business. Starting a business seemed harder at first than he thought, but he found companions and the support of acquaintances. He worked extremely hard and dedicated his life to his early business.
Every day he worked for 16 hours. He rose in the morning at 5:00 AM to go to work every day and every night, dinner was at 9:00 PM, after cleaning up. Day after day, year after year, no matter how hard it was, he just had to continue and strive on. In the business of import/export, one must not only be hardworking, one must also be principled, visit customers, ensure punctual deliveries and ensure product value for money. The competition was and still remains very fierce. Once one meets these 3 conditions, business will grow rapidly. In Canada, as long as one is realistic and work hard (hard work first and reward will follow), there will be success. He learned from George and Irene’s Western culture. He delegated to those who possessed leadership qualities and do not think it is necessary that businesses must be passed from fathers to sons. After many successful years, he hired many staff and started his own company in 1999.
In the following years, he always lived by his own rules and motto. When the government of Vietnam opened its doors and allowed free and international trade, Dan On seized the opportunity. In 1999, he established a medium-sized factory in Binh Duong - Vietnam. After a few years, the workforce grew from 45 to 100 and more.
An Dien Factory Binh Duong - Vietnam PHOTO BY DAN ON FOODS
Dan’s operations grew rapidly, and in order to accommodate with demands, he opened a 2nd facility in 2004 in Toronto, Canada to process and package products from Vietnam and Canada in order to service the ever growing number of customers.
As the days go by, the business grows and new lessons are learned. Another factory was established in 2005, in An Dien commune, Binh Duong province, about 16 km from the main factory. This factory specializes in processing raw cashew nut into cashew kernels for processing at our main factory and for exporting bulk raw cashew kernels as well as similar products under the Andi brand name.
Dan On Foods an in Japanese market PHOTO BY DAN ON FOODS
Eventually his operations expanded to other products and in order to source American agricultural products, Dan decided to open a factory in the Fresno Valley of California, USA in 2008. This facility specializes in peanuts, almonds, pistachios, and dried fruit. This facility also actively works with American farmers to purchase and export large quantities of agricultural products to Vietnam for processing.
He gradually moved to large and small markets like Taiwan and Japan. He then continued to venture successfully and around 2008-2009, Dan's products was introduced to China, a market of 1.3 billion people with increasing living standards, income and consumption. In order to serve customers and consumers in Asia, by 2017 he has established trade offices in Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Qingdao in mainland China.
Dan On builds the multinational Dan-D Foods empire PHOTO BY NICK PROCAYLO /Vancouver Sun
Dan On Foods - My Phuoc 3 Branch
Following this successful model, he bought the land next to the MP3 factory and built an even larger one. This fourth factory will produce a new line of nut milk products such as almond and cashew milk, as well as chocolate products, and nut butter. The project commenced in 2021 but due to Covid was delayed and will be operational by mid of 2022. This new factory will not only increase our production capacity but serve as a model of what green manufacturing can be, with our solar capacity supplying up to 60% of our power requirement and plans to increase to 100% green, renewable energy, making us carbon neutral.
The hard won successes opened up his eyes to see into the future 100 years from now and to plan for the next 100 years. Integrated AI technology, automation, a highly-skilled and educated workforce, and renewable energy are all vital in the coming century. As a result, Dan On has developed his company with a vision for the future and continuously pushes for his employees to be better versions of themselves.