New Dimensions in Business
“I fell in love with Vietnam on my very first trip there with REI’s Business Team,” says Loren Lancaster. “It was love at first sight.” Loren has been a member of our biannual business teams since 2015, typically serving in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City for a couple of weeks twice per year. But in the past year, Loren has upped the ante and has taken his contribution to a new level.
Loren’s career path has been out of the ordinary, to say the least. A gifted singer and guitarist, his first career was as a musician, a career that lasted some 18 years. His next career was that of an electrical engineer, a stint that lasted 23 years, with some overlap with his musical career. During his engineering days he earned 21 patents in solid state memory technology. These technological innovations provided the foundational framework for flash memory, commonly used today in USB drives and upper-end laptops. His most recent career is that of International Investments, one which continues to this day. He is also an experienced pilot, working with the Civil Air Patrol.
But Loren’s love affair with Vietnam has moved him in new directions, and he now invests six months there every year--three in the spring and three in the fall. In the fall of 2018 Loren signed on with Hanoi University to teach on “Entrepreneurship” for a semester. In the spring of this year he taught at Foreign Trade University (widely regarded as the Harvard of Vietnam) on the same subject, as well as on “Project Management,” “Doing Business with America,” and “Hotel Hospitality.” Although not officially REI staff, he participates in the resident team meetings whenever he is in country.
In one sense, though, teaching at a university is just more of the same thing REI has been doing in Vietnam for years, both by our business teams and by our resident staff. The genuinely new dimension that Loren brings to REI is a joint stock company that he has developed and registered in Vietnam called Noble Network.
Noble Network, as Loren describes it, is a for-profit company designed to strengthen noble-hearted Vietnamese business leaders by building valuable trade relationships, providing hands-on education, and securing growth-oriented investments. More simply, as a friend described it, it helps good people succeed.
Getting an expatriate company registered in Vietnam is not for the fainthearted. Loren carried a three-inch thick sheaf of pertinent documents with him for months as he worked on this project. It took a lot of time, effort and money to move the process forward. But he persevered, and Noble Network was successfully registered in early June.
“My focus is on values,” says Loren. “I want to help move business and social culture toward noble values—REI values. I’m looking for partners who have a genuine interest in their employees, their families, their community, and in general want to make the world a better place. Making money is part of any business, but that’s not our primary goal.
“Right now, I’m looking for noble-hearted business leaders in both the USA and in Vietnam to provide business logistics, raise capital, and develop trade relationships. We need the right people to make this succeed, and so we are very diligent in the selection process.”
Building people to build nations can take on many forms. REI is proud to be associated with Loren, a man of initiative, energy, perseverance, and high values who has a deep and deepening love for this special country. Interested in being a part of this work? You can contact Loren through REI. Perhaps you, too, will fall in love with Vietnam!