Anh Tran and Ken Nguyen of Evotronics
Tucked in a modern industrial park in Brooklyn Park, Evotronics is an eight-person family-run manufacturer. Since 1995, it has designed, manufactured, tested, distributed, and provided return/repair services for electronic components and assemblies to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). But even more than that is the company’s impressive American success story.
Today Evotronics is co-owned by Anh Tran and her brother, Ken Nguyen. Anh runs the business while Ken oversees plant operations. Six of the company’s eight employees are relatives.
Anh tells the story of how family patriarch Tam Tran, her father, founded the company following a rather circuitous geographical and professional route, and how he showed remarkable entrepreneurial tenacity as well as an ability to overcome misfortune along the way.
Tran and his wife, Huong Nguyen, fled Vietnam on a private boat with 40 other family members after the fall of Saigon. They were stranded at sea for 27 days, being rebuffed in the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore. Family lore has it that they had to sink the boat to be rescued. They were saved, shipped to a refugee camp in Malaysia, and eventually immigrated to Hawaii.
From there, they relocated to Maryland where they had relatives. But, they couldn’t find work, so Tran and his wife got in the car and drove west, looking for opportunities with relatives in Bloomington, Minnesota. A mechanic by training, Tran worked at Specialty Motor Cycle until its plant shut down.
An inveterate entrepreneur, Tran in 1990 opened a grocery store near Lake Street in Minneapolis that specialized in fresh seafood. At least twice a month, he would drive to the Chicago docks and sometimes even to Texas to personally pick fish and drive back for the store. But Tran’s efforts were shut down when he rolled the truck on an icy Iowa turnpike and broke his neck. He was forced to shutter the store and his convalescence took two years.
In 1995, Tran became intrigued with business opportunities as a soldering subcontractor. He took a soldering class at Hennepin Tech and then opened his business “with just a soldering iron and a small rented warehouse in Brooklyn Park.” Along the way Anh, then 15 years old, joined the company, learning to solder and operate the SMT placement system machines inherent in that industry.
The company recently achieved its ISO 9000 designation, working with Enterprise Minnesota.
The ISO designation will help keep the company competitive, according to Anh. “Contract manufacturing is competitive,” she says. “But Evotronics tries to be flexible to respond to the needs of its customers through quality, lead times, and pricing.”