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Flash-forward to 2016 and Trung is the Chief Financial Officer at La Tour Bakehouse and Cafés, where he works with his father and brother, Brandon ’02. Trung’s father, Thanh, started a small Vietnamese sandwich shop called Ba-Le on King Street in 1984, but his vast ambitions grew Ba-Le to include more than twenty sandwich shops and an expansive bakery. Now Trung is at the helm of a growing bakery and food retail enterprise – along with hosting the popular Hawai‘i Business Podcast, exploring the technology sector, giving back to the community, and raising a one and four-year-old with his wife. So what motivates Trung to continue to aspire for more? What he learned and the connections he made at Maryknoll still persist seventeen years later. To Whom Much is Given, Much is Expected In his high school days, Trung was given the advent of the Internet and the opportunity to create Maryknoll’s first website. Under the guidance of Mrs. (Liu) Tseu, they engineered a new platform to showcase the school, which luckily was only seen by few people. “It was terrible,” Trung admits. “We tried to find the ugliest, gaudiest, spiny things we could find and put it on the site.” After graduating from UC Davis with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Trung would be given another opportunity: to open a new Ba-Le Sandwich Shop at UH Manoa. Fortunately this time he chose to decorate the shop with a more neutral tone and even obtained his MBA from UH in the process. Two years later, Brandon took over the UH Ba-Le, and Trung assumed the family’s Kamehameha Highway bakery location, growing their prominent Papa John’s account into its current state of supplying the dough and ingredients to all O‘ahu Papa John’s locations. The Kamehameha Highway bakery grew and grew until it outgrew its space. In 2010, the family bought fifty-one percent of the old Weyerhaeuser warehouse on Nimitz Highway with over 60,000 square feet of space for a bakery – a bakery which now supplies bread to many farmers’ markets, Whole Foods, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouses, Macaroni Grill, Safeway, Foodland, Longs Drugs, 7-11, Princess Ka‘iulani Hotel, the Royal Hawaiian, and more. The delicious yet somewhat incognito bread from the bakery found throughout the island was given its opportunity to shine with the opening of La Tour Café in the Iwilei Nimitz building on January 11, 2011. With Trung’s useful engineering knowledge to lead the refined décor and the magnificent French macaron display case, the success 22

The Knoller

of this flagship café manifested with the opening of three more locations – Pearl City, Aina Haina, and the recently opened Kapolei. “The sky is the limit. We have lots of plans for the bakery,” says Trung, who speaks of expanding their bread products worldwide. When asked about perseverance, Trung says, “I am pretty ambitious, and I would say this even goes back to high school with Noblesse Oblige.” “I want to affect as many people as possible in my lifetime. Even as successful as the restaurants are, you are talking in the scale of thousands, and I feel like ‘Can I push past that? Can I hit tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands – millions?’” The Small School and the Big World After discussing his current vision, Trung unsurprisingly remarks, “It’s a big world outside of that small school.” Trung cherishes the relationships he made at our confined campus. “I pretty much knew all the upperclassmen and the underclassmen,” he says. “What’s nice is if you stay in Hawai‘i, you see them everywhere. Everyone kind of remains friends, and you try to help each other out as much as possible.” One of those friends that still remains is Michael Kaufmann ‘99. “We’ve known each other for going on twenty-three years now,” says Michael, who initially met Trung in seventh grade over their usual lunchtime basketball game of seventh graders versus eighth graders. Over the years, their friendship journeyed through magic cards, pogs, bowling, Boy Scouts, travelling, golf, to later being in each other’s weddings. In fact, Trung founded and cohosts Hawai‘i Business Podcast with Michael’s wife, Andrea Carr, who is a CPA. Their engaging and at times humorous podcasts explore a myriad of people in the local business community – from business owners to Legacy of Life, the organ procurement organization for Hawai‘i, to the FBI to the Institute of Human Services (IHS) and to Maryknoll alumni, such as Juno Chung ’03, owner of Koa Pancake House. “I am always curious what people do,” says Trung. “When you talk to people outside of my business you realize they have really great stories to share – how they got started, what they do. We are kind of bored with our jobs, so we need some sort of escape – a mental escape.”

Profile for Maryknoll School

Knoller Fall 2016  

Knoller Fall 2016