Wing Lam set to be keynote speaker at Vital Link summit

Wing Lam, founder of Wahoo's Fish Taco and Duran Morley, owner and founder of Vanspeed van conversion shop.
Wing Lam, founder of Wahoo’s Fish Taco, left, and Duran Morley, owner and founder of Vanspeed van conversion shop, stand in the workshop in Westminster.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Wing Lam looks at Duran Morley as a success story, the way two business owners might despite a considerable difference in age.

Morley, now 23, started his Vanspeed van conversion shop in 2017, a year after graduating early from Edison High School.

He’s expanded the business to its current 30 employees, and it currently operates out of a 30,000-square-foot warehouse facility in Westminster just off the 405 Freeway. A stone’s throw away, there’s another 10,000-square-foot space for shipping and receiving.

Wing Lam is the well-known personality who co-founded Wahoo’s Fish Taco with his brothers in Costa Mesa in 1988, more than a decade before Morley was born. He’s proud of his mentorship with Morley.

Both are involved with the Vital Link student leadership summit, which takes place Wednesday at the Orange County Fairgrounds in the Anaheim and Los Alamitos buildings.

Wing Lam, founder of Wahoo's Fish Taco and Duran Morley, owner and founder of Vanspeed van conversion shop, from left.
Wing Lam and Duran Morley stand in one of Morley’s conversion vans in Westminster.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Lam is the keynote speaker, while Morley will be leading a career skills workshop.

“At his age, having 30 employees, to me, that’s pretty amazing,” Lam said. “Especially for a kid who didn’t go to college, but there’s more to it. If you don’t know accounting, find somebody who does and make sure that you understand enough. We see a lot of people who lost their fortunes because somebody in their business took it. You’ve got to know how to surround yourself with good people, but also know enough to know when there’s something not right here.”

Lam likes giving back to the community, particularly the youth. Vital Link is an Orange County nonprofit that tries to make sure students have the resources to explore all of their possible career paths.

Morley will be helping high school students not too much younger than him. He built his business with support from his parents Eric and Evelyn. Eric Morley and Lam are longtime friends who met through off-road racing; Eric Morley owns an advertising company for a lot of the action sports.

“It seems like I was always supporting everybody’s activities … and somehow this off-roading just kind of became an extension,” Lam said. “Before I knew it, [Morley] is like, ‘Wing, you should get into this thing.’ And I’m like, ‘Are you crazy? I have no desire and I have no idea how to drive an off-road vehicle.’

“He goes, ‘Well, there’s this thing called the copilot, right. You’ve got to do the navigating.’ But the thing they forget to tell you, when the car is moving … you can’t look at the screen for more than 30 seconds. You get completely carsick. Luckily for me, all the guys that raced, they knew the course.”

Completed vans await delivery at the Vanspeed van conversion shop in Westminster.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Lam also spent time interviewing racers at the finish line. Meanwhile, Morley’s youngest son forged his own road through the business world.

“The first three or four years, even though I didn’t go to college, I compare that time to my college,” Duran Morley said. “It was nonstop educating and learning, trying to get resources. Really, it comes down to figuring stuff out, that’s the biggest thing. It’s problem solving.

“Something that I respect, and a lot of it came from Wing, is just make it happen. Say yes, figure it out and make it happen.”

Though they have different life experiences, Vital Link senior program director Neda Arab said she’s excited to have both Lam and Duran on board for the student leadership summit.

Besides workshops on subjects like building your credit and data analytics, there will also be an opportunity for the students to mingle with industry professionals serving as exhibitors.

A welder works on a metal roof rack at the Vanspeed van conversion shop in Westminster.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“The biggest thing we want to tell them is that they can do it,” Arab said. “You have skills, you just need to fine-tune your skills a bit. That’s why we have this summit, to help them fine-tune their skills … They have to be able to be able to problem solve. You don’t have to be Elon Musk, but you do have to be able to problem-solve.”

Lam is excited to meet this next generation of students. After all, who knows? His words may inspire the next Duran Morley.

“Whether you become a doctor, an attorney, a pharmacist, or whatever, there is still something called business,” Lam said. “You still need to know just enough to realize that no restaurant goes out of business because they make bad food. They go out of business because they don’t know how to do the back of the house, they don’t know how to do payroll, accounting. There’s a piece of the business that they don’t know how to do, and ultimately that’s why they fail.”