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A Nose For Profits

Other businessmen might have never gotten past the smell. But Duc Tran is a man of tolerance and vision.

The 42-year-old immigrant from Vietnam realized four years ago that the durian - a fruit known for its sweet taste and bad odor - could be a catalyst for economic success.

Because of its smell, the durian is banned from hotels throughout South Asia. One writer likened it to eating custard in a sewer.

But the spiky, brown, melon-sized fruit has found a niche in the U.S. marketplace, primarily in the growing Southeast Asian immigrant community. This year Tran plans to import 37 ship containers of durian - $1 million worth - for distribution nationwide.

Even Tran’s family is split over durian’s merits. He and his wife love it, but their 13-year-old son “can’t stand the smell,” Tran said.