VINCENT Pham has come a long way since his childhood days of playing with his “toy” bullet shells and hearing bombs and cannons going off.
Originally growing up in South Vietnam with his father who was a soldier, his family fled the war-torn country by boat and eventually ended up in Australia.
The first “toy” Mr Pham had as a child was a bullet shell. It was common then for Vietnamese children to play with them.
He would often hear bombs and cannons while in the countryside with his family.
Mr Pham arrived in Australia in 1986 as a refugee and used his experiences during the war to apply to his business life.
He now owns four IGAs in Huntingdale, Thornlie, Midland and High Wycombe and juggled studying, working and being a young parent when he first arrived.
He said his experiences in war helped him in his life in Australia.
“In Vietnam I went through the war,” he said.
“We moved house quite a lot every year so I had to adapt to a lot of different conditions.
“Australia is a lot easier than Vietnam.”
He said he learned a lot from his parents.
Mr Pham eventually ended up in Australia in the south-eastern suburbs and worked as a painter and picture framer in Subiaco. But he had greater aspirations.
He studied a Diploma of Business at Tafe and six months into the three-year course, he realised he could apply it to the real world and the supermarket industry.
In 1990, he made a successful offer to buy the Foodland Bayswater store. He mortgaged his house and borrowed money from family members to purchase Foodland Bayswater for $160,000.
Within two years, the turnover doubled. Mr Pham was still studying at this time. He would open the store, go to classes, return to the store to place orders and close.
He learnt quickly about the supermarket industry and within five years purchased a second store.