Thien Long Group Aims to Become a Billion Dollar Ballpoint Pen Manufacturer

Ballpoint pens made in Vietnam

Referring to the history of the much sought-after “national ballpoint pen”, Co Gia Tho, founder and chairman of the Thien Long group, recalls that over 40 years ago, most ballpoint pens in Vietnam were imported from Thailand. Ballpoint pens were so rare that many people filled pens with ink for reuse. It was high time for a pen seller like Tho to pursue his dream of producing a Vietnam-made ballpoint pen at a small factory in District 6 of Ho Chi Minh City in 1981.

Years later, despite the brand’s growing popularity, not all stores in HCMC were selling Vietnamese products. They much preferred to sell imported items. As such, Tho and his partners have taken their Vietnam-made ballpoint pens across the country for marketing. It wasn’t until 1997 that the Thien Long brand dominated the ballpoint pen market with its affordable prices, high quality and eye-catching designs.

Blue, black and red ballpoint pens with white stripes are common in school bags across the country, an icon in reference to “schooling.” Photo by Thien Long

Starting with ballpoint pens, Thien Long has always tried to make positive changes and take the lead in producing new products for the local market. In 1994, Thien Long set up a team of engineers and experts for product research and development. In 2000, product innovation activities cost 3 to 5% of the group’s total turnover.

In 2020, despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Thien Long still posted a gross profit margin of 38.4%, higher than the average level for the period 2016 – 2019. During the first half of 2021, the figure of The group’s total business was over VND 1.4 trillion, up 27% year-on-year, while its after-tax profit reached VND 176 billion, a tenfold increase from the same period last year, reaching 63 percent of its annual target. The positive figures come from the group’s efforts in corporate restructuring and digitization that Thien Long has been planning for several years and started to implement in 2020.


President Tho said what helped Thien Long Group survive the Covid pandemic was its workforce and systematic management strategy. In recent years, the group has also focused on investing in production systems to form an ecosystem serving its operations.

The group has focused on investing in production systems for so long to form a large ecosystem to serve its operations.  Photo by Thien Long

The group has focused on investing in production systems to form an ecosystem serving its operations. Photo by Thien Long

Besides its workforce strength, Thien Long has manufactured many machines and equipment to serve its production operations and boost design activities to replace imported ones and lower prices to improve competitiveness. As a result, Thien Long products, of various designs and serving various purposes, are always sold at a reasonable price and are thus considered to be the “national brand”.

The “global digitization”, aiming for a rapid and sustainable development in the new normal stage, was materialized by Thien Long with a roadmap called “Global digitization in 2021 with a vision towards 2025” built by the FPT group, on the basis of of the FPT. Digital Kaizen methodology, technological solutions ecosystems, experience in digital transformation and experienced staff.

Co Gia Tho in brown suit, chairman of Thien Long Group, and Truong Gia Binh, chairman of FPT, at a signing ceremony.  Photo by Thien Long

Co Gia Tho (left), chairman of Thien Long Group, and Truong Gia Binh, chairman of FPT, at a signing ceremony. Photo by Thien Long

“The group has set itself an ambitious target of 10,000 billion VND in sales over the next five years. To achieve this goal, Thien Long Group will take into account multiple factors, in particular information technology. Technological capacity, practical experience and dynamic and highly qualified employees. are major factors in the decision to choose FPT as a partner on the path to digitization, ”said the president of Thien Long.

At Thien Long Group, digital transformation also applies to social activities, including the Exam Season Support program, to provide practical support to candidates. The application of technology to the program also promotes the value of the group’s knowledge and digitization.

40 years – the peak of Thien Long’s “career”

A person, at the age of 40, certainly attains maturity and a solid position in society and money that many others admire. Four decades have passed and so far the brand has grown into “mature” and “moulted” to become an icon of ballpoint pen products.

In addition to conquering the local market, Thien Long marked an important step in its “outbound” journey. Hoping to bring the crystallization of Vietnamese wisdom to the world, the group has stepped up its exports and extended its reach to 67 countries, including all Southeast Asian countries and prime markets like states. United, Europe and Japan.

Thien Long Group and Chairman Co Gia Tho were awarded a Third Year Work Order for their relentless efforts in building the Vietnamese brand in the global market and their significant contributions to education in Vietnam.  Photo by Thien Long

Thien Long Group and Chairman Co Gia Tho are awarded Third Year Work Order for their efforts in building a Vietnamese brand in the global market and their significant contributions to Vietnam education. Photo by Thien Long

“The good quality products and the significant achievements of the brand are the result of the dedication and the clear development strategy that Thien Long Group pursues. In accordance with the stationery industry, Thien Long Group will continue its long-term journey to serve Vietnamese consumers, ”said a representative of Thien Long Group.

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