The Voyage

Hot sauce creator, David Tran, began his chili making mastery in 1975 in Vietnam. During his humble beginnings, the unsurpassable genius produced his first hot sauce called Pepper Sa-te. He filled his Sa-te sauce in recycled glass baby food jars that then was sold and delivered by family members via bicycle. In 1979, his astounding voyage began by departing communist Vietnam on a Taiwanese freighter that was registered in Panama, named Huey Fong. Later that name became the inspiration namesake of his beloved company, Huy Fong Foods.

After the United States accepted Tran as a refugee when no other countries would, he started right away doing what he did best -- making hot sauce. So in 1980, he started his chili legacy in a 5,000 sq foot building nestled near Chinatown in Los Angeles. His creations included his Pepper Sa-te Sauce, Sambal Oelek, Chili Garlic, Sambal Badjak and Sriracha Hot Sauce.

He was quite content just to sell whatever he could produce each day and deliver them to Asian restaurants and markets in his blue Chevy van - often driving as far as San Francisco and even San Diego. Believe it or not, Tran actually hand painted his first hot sauce logos onto that blue Chevy van himself! At that time, little did Tran realize his delectable sauces, particularly the iconic Sriracha Hot Sauce, made from just fresh jalapeño chili peppers, would spread like HOT wild fire...

“We started this because we like fresh, spicy chili sauce.” - David Tran

On the Horizon

Unable to extinguish the hot wildfire, after seven years of unexpected success in Chinatown, Huy Fong outgrew its first facility. Taking a chance by moving 20 minutes outside of the Chinese community, Tran risked it all by purchasing a 68,000 sq. ft. former pharmaceutical facility in Rosemead, California. There he continued to thrive by designing custom machinery to increase his production capacity to meet the continuing demand of his sauces.

Sriracha during this time had taken off like a hot unstoppable chili pepper missile. Tran saw the horizon and it was indeed bright and optimistic. In 1996, Huy Fong was once again faced with space limitations, but as luck would have it, Tran was able to purchase the old Whamo facility just two doors down from the Rosemead facility. In a place where hula hoops and Frisbees once ruled, Huy Fong transformed that 170,000 sq. ft. building to a chili-grinding, hot sauce storing powerhouse, where all you can see was isles and isles of 55 gallon blue drums filled with freshly ground red chili peppers. At last, Tran had enough room to house his chili empire... so he thought.

"Make a rich man's sauce at a poor man's price." - David Tran

Secret Sauce

Unbelievably, sales, especially Sriracha sales, had continued to soar like a rooster on steroids - almost seemingly out of control. 'Quite amazing', Tran recalls, given the fact that the Huy Fong Sriracha had been affectionately named by employees as the 'secret' sauce. Why? No one had ever been invited to see Huy Fong's productions or operations in Rosemead. It was quoted by someone that it was easier to get into the Pentagon than into Huy Fong. And also, to this day, the company still can boast that it has never advertised its products, nor does it employ one single salesperson - the existence of the secret sauce is only spread by word of mouth -- the 'secret' sauce sells itself...

In 2009, Tran, reading his Sriracha future like a fortune teller, saw demands continuing to increase while warehouse space continued to decrease. His Sriracha had gained popularity throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and over ten different countries -- Huy Fong was becoming well -known worldwide for its hot chili sauces! Tran forecasted that within a few years, he would have depleted all his available warehouse space, thus forcing him to either plateau in sales or to embark in search for yet another facility.

The Payoff

Tran had the good luck of finding a large parcel of real estate in Irwindale, where the City seemed eager to make it the home of the beloved Sriracha hot sauce. Although ground breaking began in 2010 on its 650,000 sq. ft., state-of-the-art facility it wasn't up to full operations until a few years later. This would be Huy Fong's headquarters, which would double the combined square footage of both Rosemead facilities. Tran worked tirelessly in designing this facility, along with the multitudes of automated machinery, so his dream could become reality. And now that it has, he smiles in reflecting upon the tens of thousands of visitors that had poured into his facility during the chili season open houses and tours. He relishes the thoughts of the recent awards he has received and reflects on the many interviews he has recently done, but his thoughts go back to his increasing Sriracha friends and their insatiable need for more and more Sriracha. DEFINITELY NOT THE END...

"I couldn't have succeeded without my hard-working employees working as a team to make the company what it has become."
- David Tran