In 2018, Tuan Nguyen left Ho Chi Minh City to begin a new life in regional Victoria as a pub owner. Here’s his story.
Life for Tuan Nguyen was good when he arrived in Horsham with his wife and two children on a business migrant visa, looking for “a healthy environment with great schools and universities” to raise his kids.
As the newly-minted owner and operator of the Exchange Hotel, business was pumping and Tuan couldn’t have been happier.
“I was looking for a regional business and a broker introduced us to the Exchange Hotel,” he recalls. “We fell in love with the area and its natural beauty: the lakes and rivers, the Grampians so close. The hotel was busy and had potential to expand so we decided to invest. Locals are so friendly, enjoying the day and a peaceful life.
“The pub in the centre of the town was so crowded and full of life… all the good feelings,” he reflects.
How does a businessman from Vietnam manage a pub in Horsham, of all places?
“As I have limited experience in the industry, I realised the importance of hiring the right management staff – and maintaining staff – in a business. My strength is doing business.”
He’s not wrong.
In Vietnam, as well as operating a restaurant in Ho Chi Minh, Tuan worked for Ford, Kia, Mazda, Hyundai and Chevrolet.
He is now here for keeps after being nominated by the Victorian Government for a Business Talent visa, selected based on his history of entrepreneurial talent and ability to grow his businesses and create jobs.
But it hasn’t all been ice cold beers in the sun. Last year, the pandemic took hold... a ‘closed’ sign was regrettably put up and revenue flat-lined.
The Exchange Hotel shut in March and reopened in June, only to close again in August as the pandemic continued. “Our business was decimated by the sudden closures,” says Tuan.
Government support helped him through, but his business skills helped turn his business around. The pub opened again in September and is now edging back to its pre-pandemic takings.
With trade picking up again, Tuan is enjoying his COVID-normal life in Horsham.
“Horsham has good education for high school and university; beautiful entertainment, a lot of parks and rivers, an art gallery, a town hall, a museum, cinema, sports... with nice people, a peaceful non-polluting place. Growing up, I lived in a small poor town in regional Vietnam. For me, Horsham is better by a lot.”
For more information about choosing Victoria for your business, visit liveinmelbourne.vic.gov.au.