The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

The Delicious Taste Of Stubborness …

Years ago I wrote about how standards are driven – and protected – by stubbornness.

Well recently I heard a great story about the man who started the sauce company, Si Racha, who embraces this value.

David Tran arrived in America in 1979 after fleeing Vietnam after the communist takeover.

He found himself living in LA with nothing but his passion for spicy food.

The Vietnamese are one of the most magical and industrial cultures on the planet so David decided to turn his love into an outlet and started making hot sauce in a bucket and selling it from his van.

The name Si Racha came from a Thai surf town where he liked the sauce.

[You thought that was the name of the sauce rather than the brand didn’t you?]

Anyway, David didn’t care about branding or advertising … he just focused on making the best sauce possible. And it worked, because word of it spread like wildfire and suddenly people were buying it in their droves and putting it on everything they ate.

Over time, David started partnering with local Asian restaurants & grocery stores … and more and more people got to experience it.

One day someone said his product was “too spicy” and suggested he adds a tomato base to sweeten it. His friends agreed, saying it would pair better with chicken. But this is where David’s stubbornness started to come through.

“Hot sauce must be hot… We don’t make mayonnaise here.”

Over time Si Racha has become a cult phenomenon.

Famous chefs talked about their love of it.
Obama talked about his love of it.
And in many ways, the sauce became a symbol of both the diversity in America and the opportunity of America … because here was an immigrant who pursued his dream despite all odds and succeeded.

Today, Sriracha sells over 20 million bottles per year, generates over $150 million in annual revenue and has made Tran a very rich man.

But rather than just produce more and more of the sauce to make more and more money, it’s production is strictly managed.

David is adamant on quality, so because Jalapenos have a short window for being at their optimum ripeness, he has created a production cycle where a year’s supply is executed in just 10 weeks.

Tran owns 100% of his company – which he named after the ship that brought him to the US.
He still works at his factory in Irwindale, California and he still wears the same blue shirt and hat every day.

But what I love most is his attitude towards why he so conscientiously and strictly makes his product …

“I don’t make hot sauce for money. I make money for hot sauce.”

We could all do with more David Tran’s.

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