Trung and Brandon Lam encourage others to look to the opportunities and stay true to values
By Dani Douglass
When brothers Trung Lam, MBA ’06, and Brandon Lam, BBA ’06, MBA ’08, were students at the Shidler College of Business, they learned impactful lessons in the classroom that would aid them in leading their company forward during a pandemic more than a decade later. Trung Lam, CEO of La Tour Group, LLC and Brandon Lam, president of La Tour Bakehouse, are leading the helm of their popular family restaurant and manufacturing business, which produces breads, pastries, crackers, cookies, specialty products and more.
“At Shidler, we learned that when things get difficult, you can always rely on the basics of accounting, finance, marketing and strategy,” Trung Lam said. “Redo your SWOT analysis and see where the opportunities of the future are since the ones of the past might not be there anymore.”
Trung Lam, MBA ’06 and Brandon Lam, BBA ’06, MBA ’08
With the onset of COVID-19 earlier this year, the pair worked quickly to make operational tweaks that would assure their loyal customers would still have access to their products. They pared down their usual production of more than 100 items daily to 30, focusing on the core items. They’ve made the pivot to transition wholesale customers to will-call pick up and are delivering products directly to select customers.
Another operational pivot the company has made is the expansion of its retail presence in grocery stores across the state. Brandon Lam says that the response has been good from customers and that they’ve been very supportive of the changes. “People can get involved by supporting local whenever possible,” he said. “Every dollar that stays in Hawai‘i helps to support the local economy.”
Although they’ve been able to adapt and find a way to get their products to customers, their concerns are similar to those many fellow alumni are grappling with. “The health and safety of staff and customers is our main concern,” Trung Lam said. “A close second would be servicing debt and then locating growth opportunities.”
Trung Lam acknowledges that even in difficult times, there are always opportunities. “Don’t ignore the problems of today but make sure you make time to look toward the future and see where you’d like to be in this new world,” he offers. “Stay true to your mission and core values and pivot your business if necessary.”
The Lam brothers have some straight forward advice for current students and recent Shidler graduates. They say that in this unique time, you can always identify new problems that resonate with you and give solving them a shot.