While working as a technical specialist at the French Labbe Rubber Company in Viet Nam in 1954, Mr. Nguyen Van Dan came up with the idea of manufacturing foam mattresses from the natural latex found in Viet Nam’s abundantly available rubber trees. KYMDAN’s strategic use of intellectual property (IP) has helped it grow from a one man operation into an international company and one of the largest producers of natural latex mattress and pillow products, as well as related wooden furniture (such as beds and sofas), in Viet Nam.
Capitalizing on his entrepreneurial spirit, Mr. Dan decided to produce his own isoprene foam mattress. He launched his mattress business in 1954 in Saigon City, South Viet Nam. In 1999, he equitized his business and renamed it the Saigon-Kymdan Rubber Stock Company (KYMDAN). This was the starting point from which KYMDAN would become a leading international mattress and furniture brand that is synonymous with quality, reliability and cutting-edge technology.
KYMDAN is a private, family-run enterprise that is today run by Mr. Dan’s grandson, Mr. Nguyen Tri Tan. The company name is comprised of three terms: “KỸ nghệ” (Vietnamese for “technology”), “Mousse” (French for “foam”) and “ÐA Ngành” (Vietnamese for “multidisciplinary”), which represents Mr. Dan’s vision to create a multi-industry “mousse” technology.
Technology and trade secrets derived from unique manufacturing techniques have provided KYMDAN with phenomenal success and have led to it becoming a leading brand in Viet Nam’s latex mattress manufacturing industry with four domestic branches. KYMDAN’s products are also popular in foreign markets, which are supplied by two overseas subsidiaries, one in Australia and one in the United States of America (USA), and more than 450 stores, agent stores and authorized distributors worldwide.
KYMDAN’s success is a good example of how IP can be used to strengthen a developing country’s products and industries and help them better integrate and compete in the world economy.
While showing his mattress at an exhibition of Vietnamese products in Japan in 1960, Mr. Dan realized that there were no similar products on the market. The entrepreneur’s first major innovation was a way to increase the ventilation of its mattresses, and in 1962, he fine-tuned his initial ready-made mattress mold with a beehive structure that increased the surface area and ventilation. KYMDAN filed its first patent application with the National Office of Intellectual Property of Viet Nam (NOIP Viet Nam) in 1962, while an updated version was filed in 2004.
At a time when most technical advances came from abroad, this technological breakthrough drastically increased business and was an important step for the latex mattress manufacturing industry in Viet Nam.
While the production of KYMDAN’s flagship products was interrupted following the reunification of Viet Nam in 1975, Mr. Dan never stopped his R&D efforts. His persistence paid off in 1984 with the creation of a new mattress that would not only ventilate but also absorb body heat. In 1984, he submitted an application with the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) in France for his invention. The international recognition of KYMDAN as a company of unique products which are able to meet international high-quality standards would help grow the KYMDAN brand.
In 1989 Mr. Nguyen Huu Tri, Mr. Dan’s son, took advantage of his father’s innovations and the growing Vietnamese economy to further develop the KYMDAN brand.
Utilizing new manufacturing technologies and his father’s breakthroughs, Mr. Tri developed a unique processing and molding method for natural latex foam that led to a new and improved version of his father’s original invention.
Product improvements were recognized by consumers and KYMDAN quickly developed a reputation for safe, reliable and environmentally friendly products, furthering the prestige of the KYMDAN brand.
In early 2000, following a company reorganization, KYMDAN built a new factory (108,163 m2), which boasts state-of-the-art automated production lines and a fully equipped research and testing laboratory in the industrial zone close to Ho Chi Min City.
This new factory was expanded twice, once in 2001 and again in 2007, to meet demand for KYMDAN products.
In 2008, KYMDAN opened two new factories: Export Garment Enterprise, focusing on producing mattress related products for export markets and Furniture Enterprise, focusing on producing natural latex furniture. All of the latex used in KYMDAN’s products is produced in Viet Nam.
IP protection has fostered innovative R&D and the creation of a strong brand and from 1999 to 2010 KYMDAN has enjoyed a revenue increase each year, with revenue in 2010 exceeding 1012.5 billion Viet Nam Dong (₫).
Securing IPRs for its innovations played an important role in this dramatic increase from ₫67.9 billion in 1999. From 2011, KYMDAN shifted its focus from increasing revenue to investing in scientific research of technologies to improve the manufacturing process, and strives to maintain its peak revenue of approximately ₫1000 (net profit for 2015 was ₫1016), and since 2017, KYMDAN has increased efforts to expand into foreign markets.
Due to the unique design of KYMDAN products, industrial design rights are a critical part of its business. The company has registered over 240 industrial designs, including for its flagship mattress – designed in 1996 – (NOIP Viet Nam Registration No. 3-0002853-000) and related products, including wooden bed frames and sofas, with NOIP Viet Nam.
Registering industrial designs is a powerful way to prevent others from copying KYMDAN designs and maintains the quality link between KYMDAN and the products bearing its name. This helps foster customer loyalty and allows further expansion into new markets.
Trademarks are used to boost the growth of KYMDAN’s brand name and are essential to its business, and the company continues to register new trademarks associated with its innovations. KYMDAN has filed two trademark applications under the Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks: one in 1999 for “KYMDAN” (International Registration No. 71785) and one in 2005 for the slogan “KYMDAN KD Since 1954.”
Other slogans have also been registered, including “Your Comfort is Our Business” in 2006 (NOIP Viet Nam Registration No. 40075202000), and by 2017, KYMDAN had registered over 60 domestic trademarks for various versions of the company name and slogan with NOIP Viet Nam.
KYMDAN’s successful use of IP has also earned it many awards, such as in 2005 when KYMDAN was chosen as a producer of one of eleven key industrial products in Ho Chi Minh City by the Ho Chi Minh City Industrial Product Development Program and in 2006 when the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry first designated KYMDAN one of the Ten Best Known Brands in Viet Nam.
In 2004, KYMDAN marked its 50th anniversary in Geneva where the company was awarded the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Trophy for Innovative Enterprises for the company’s innovative use of IP in manufacturing and trade.
Quality, safety and innovation are at the forefront of KYMDAN’s product strategy. To achieve this it has continually placed an emphasis on research and development (R&D).
KYMDAN takes a holistic approach to its R&D and the company established itself by using all of its available resources to not only invest in creative potential, but also develop its IP portfolio and improve efficiency. For example, KYMDAN encourages employees to suggest their own innovative ideas, , which has given the firm an edge on its competitors.
At the heart of KYMDAN’s R&D is the commitment to ensure that all new products meet the company’s set of “15 Outstanding Features of KYMDAN Products”, including optimum elasticity to support the user’s spine, , fire retardant properties, insect resistant coverings, and durability (lasting on average over 20 years). In addition to these features, KYMDAN mattresses are completely deodorized of the rubber smell, which has helped to give them an edge over other Vietnamese companies in foreign markets.
The company also believes that while technology transfer from other countries can help shorten the time it takes to apply new technologies, it will not help Vietnamese companies compete with their powerful multinational counterparts. Therefore, internal R&D has been the mainstay of the company’s innovation and one way in which KYMDAN is working to make its laboratory a training center for future leading specialists in the Vietnamese rubber industry.
The company’s R&D is carried out by KYMDAN Laboratory, a modern facility staffed with professionally trained specialists testing new products as well as researching ways to improve the quality, safety and features of existing products. The KYMDAN Laboratory is divided into four divisions: Product R&D Division, Material Quality Inspection Division, Product Quality Inspection Division and Physiochemical and Environmental Inspection Division.
Product quality and safety are important qualities of KYMDAN’s products that came about through extensive R&D. These qualities have been consistently recognized in the firm’s markets and have increased the strength of the company’s brand name. For 25 consecutive years (from 1993 to 2017), the company has received the environmentally friendly and fire resistant certificate from eco-Institut, a prominent German quality assurance organization.
Since 2018, KYMDAN has received GRS Compliance Certificates from the Global Registration Services, Inc., an American service proprietor for the bedding and furniture industry, for their natural latex mattress and pillow products that are compliant for import and distribution in the USA. Having undergone rigorous product safety tests, KYMDAN mattress and pillow products passed safety requirements to attain individual manufacturer licenses in 14 states.
In 2010, KYMDAN received a certificate for standards ISO 9001:2008, (having received its original certificate for standards ISO 9001:2000 in 2003), which recognizes the company’s quality management system used in the design, manufacture and supply of its products. In 2015, KYMDAN Laboratory was found to be in compliance with International Standard ISO/IEC 10725:2005, having been certified for the first time in 2006, meaning that KYMDAN Laboratory has been accredited to test new products in order to ensure that they are fit for sale on the market.
In addition, KYMDAN was certified as bacteria and mold resistant by UL Environment, Inc., a company that provides certification and validation for environmentally sustainable product manufacturers, for its natural latex mattresses and pillows in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
Creating a strong brand name does much more than increase revenue, foster customer loyalty and maintain a company’s competitive edge. It also creates a culture that can be associated with not just a product, but also a country.
KYMDAN has effectively used its IP to build one of the largest companies in Viet Nam with broad, international reach. Growing a Vietnamese brand that is associated with quality and success creates a positive image not just for KYMDAN, but for the entire country of Viet Nam. KYMDAN is registered in over 100 countries and territories, positioning itself as one of Viet Nam’s strongest brands enjoying customer preference based on the quality of the products and services offered.
This case study is based on information from: