Q&A

The CEO of Western Digital Corporation and Commander of the Most Admirable Order of the Direkgunabhorn, talks to Horizon Thailand.

How do you feel about receiving The Royal Thai Decorations, Commander (Third Class) of the Most Admirable Order of the Direkgunabhorn?

I’m very excited in particular for our employees in Thailand. We have been an investor here for a number of years and we have enjoyed very strong support from the government and the Board of Investment (BOI). But most importantly, we have very strong support from all of our employees. So I feel that I am accepting this award really on behalf of all the great employees that we have here in Thailand.

What are Western Digital’s plans for Thailand?
Over the last few years, our industry has had to deal with the slowdown in the PC market which has affected our operations. We do not have any immediate plans to expand our operations here in Thailand. But as we look to future investment down the line, Thailand remains at the top of the list of locations where we will continue to look to invest.

What are the benefits of investing in Thailand?
I would say that there are several. One, as I indicated earlier, is that we have very good, well qualified employees. The other thing is that we continue to look for areas where we can bring more engineering work here. Thailand has always been a very good and easy place to do business. It’s a very welcoming business environment and that really comes back with the strong support that we have had over a number of years from the government and in particular the BOI. That makes us confident not only in the investment that we have already made in Thailand, but also to continue to look to make more investment and move forward.

How do you view the computer industry in Thailand?
The Thai government’s policy for the digital economy places a priority on additional IT service capacity using cloud. I think the government has been very progressive in its approach to its own IT infrastructure needs, which is very supportive of our industry.

Does the recent incident in Bangkok affect your company’s policy?
The reality of the world today is that there is a lot of instability in very different places in the world. We are concerned about the safety of our employees in Thailand, but it does not change our view of investing in Thailand. I have spent a lot of my career in Thailand and I have always found it a very safe place to be.

 

 

The Director of Innovation, Research Design and Management at Peakchan explains how the company transforms jute and kenaf into hi-end export products.

How did Peakchan become established?
Initially I received the Talent Thai Award from the Department of Export Promotion (DEP), Ministry of Commerce in 2005 for a jute carpet. This award presented a huge opportunity for a young girl at the time with 20-30 million baht worth of orders from customers all over the world. From nothing, Peakchan has kept growing until it has become something in the market now.

What do you think is special about Peakchan?
I think it is our creative design and unique technique. Peakchan’s products are mainly made from jute and kenaf. For decades, neither product was modified to create anything besides sacks. We started creating a new perception of what Thai people once overlooked. Our jute and kenaf products with beautiful stones woven inside were launched on the market a few years ago, and have become our signature. Still today, our products are unique.

Which of your products is the best selling?
It varies depending on the country. In the US, they love our lifestyle and fashion items, while in France and Italy, they love our furniture and home decoration items. Almost all our products are expensive and regarded as high-end products.

Can you mention a few of your future projects?
We plan to produce nielloware [jewellery]. Also, we plan to mix new materials such as silk and cotton with our existing materials. These not only provide new product lines, but they also strengthen the reputation of the country. When people around the world see ‘Made in Thailand’ on the price tag, it means Thailand is shouting out that we are truly the best craft makers in the world.

Why do you think Thailand has an advantage in this kind of product?
It is because now more and more people are getting back to environment-friendly products. They are looking for something natural, artistic and handmade. Thailand definitely gains an advantage for we have abundant natural resources and skilled craftsmen. You know, once jute was regarded as the export product of poor countries, but now what we are doing clearly shows that this is not the case any longer.

Photo courtesy of Peakchan

 

 

Issue 36

Apirat Boonruangthaworn, founder and design director of the furniture brand +SENSE, talks to Horizon Thailand about the future of the brand.

Can you tell us about how you created the brand +SENSE?
After working as a freelancer for five to six years, I was introduced to Niran Atisantisilp, owner of a factory that manufacturers products from bronze and brass. He asked me to work with him, and by that time I had enough experience and was ready to explore more. That’s how the brand was established.

What’s the characteristic of the brand?
+SENSE is contemporary outdoor furniture. It’s the combination of Thai craftsmanship and aluminum, known for being sturdy, weather resistant and an enduring material that is suitable to use outdoors.

Issue 37

 

Ruomwadee Lakakul, marketing and sales director of 4Care talks about the benefits of Thai hom mali rice and the innovative products that have made their way into Thai hospitals around the country.

Can you tell us something about 4Care?                           
The company was founded in 2003 to create quality health food. Our products are made from Thai rice and we have cereal drinks, rice drinks, a coconut cream alternative and non-dairy cooking cream. We have won the merit award at the Rice Innovation Awards from the Thai Rice Foundation and we are certified by the Thailand Trust Mark.

Why did you choose to use Thai rice as an ingredient?                                                              
For our products, we use organic hom mali rice and rice berry from Yasothon province in the northeastern region. We want to encourage more farmers in Thailand to grow organic rice which is better for the environment and for their health in the long-term. Thai farmers shouldn’t rely on chemicals so much.

Which product is made from brown rice?
Our Balance Organic Rice Drink is made from organic Thai rice. It’s gluten, lactose and soy free; great for people with lots of allergies as it’s free from the top eight allergens.

What is the coconut cream alternative made from?
A lot of Thai food has coconut cream, which can contain up to 95% saturated fat. The coconut cream substitute is a healthy natural cooking cream made from rice bran oil and soy protein. The alternative contains four times less saturated fat than traditional coconut cream and has the right balance of fatty acids as well as antioxidants.

What is the feedback from customers so far?
About 90% of all hospitals in Thailand like Rajavithi Hospital and Phra Mongkut Klao Hospital use our coconut cream alternative for Thai food instead of coconut cream. The alternative cream made from rice has no cholesterol, and is certified by the Thai Heart Foundation and the Faculty of Public Health Mahidol University, that it does not increase the risk of heart disease. We have also had very good feedback about other rice products from pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers because the products have no milk or soy and are gluten-free.

What are your plans for the future?
We are an innovative company so we are looking for other grains that can be used to make healthy food alternatives. Now we export 4Care products to Dubai and we already have the Halal certificate. We have also been contacted by importers in Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia. For some countries, rice drinks are quite new to them but they trust in the benefits of hom mali rice because the rice is fragrant and considered to be high-quality.

For more information, visit www.4care.co.th

 

Issue 35

Mosstories designer, Chatkeo Srisuwan, talks to Horizon Thailand about the success of her business and how Thailand is a leader in the fashion industry.

How did you get into the fashion business?
It all started as a hobby. I have always been interested in designing accessories, and, together with my friends, we started selling them on a roadside stand. Soon, we had many customers and that led me to establish the brand Mosstories in 2006. We opened our first two stores in the Jatujak Weekend Market and Suanlum Night Bazaar. Later we opened at Zen department store and Siam Square. We started selling accessories first then expanded the product line to clothing, bags and shoes in 2007. The feedback was really positive, and I decided to pursue my education in fashion and design in order to improve my knowledge of clothing, bags and footwear.

What challenges did you face when you first started?
It was all about management systems. Personally, I think most designers would focus on their products rather than having a good operational system in place, and I can only say it is crucial to have an effective management system to ensure that the business operates smoothly from production to marketing and selling.

What sets your brand apart from your competitors?
I’d say uniqueness and the style. Most of my products have stories behind them hence they have originality. They are a mixture of various raw products and crafted with detail. The inspiration to create items comes from many things, such as travel, art, architecture, culture and people. In addition, we have a variety of products to cater to the demands of different customer groups.

Who are your main customers?
At first, we thought it would be teenagers and working people but the trend has changed and we can now say that it’s about lifestyle rather than age. Mosstories’s customers show a sense of self-confidence, are unique and want to be different from the crowd.

What are your main export markets?
Our international customers are mostly from Asia. Currently we export to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore.

How do you maintain the quality of your products?
The business started with me selling products directly to customers, which gave me a chance to obtain direct feedback from them. They let me know what they liked and what kind of products they are looking for. Each time we come out with something new, we think whether the products will meet customers’ needs. Often I test the products on myself to ensure the quality, for instance, I try on new footwear to see if it is comfortable enough.

What are the strengths of the Thai fashion industry?
Thailand has so many advantages compared to neighbouring countries. Firstly, we have an abundance of natural resources, which certainly helps reduce manufacturing costs and enhances production capability. Secondly, Thai designers are extremely creative and they are encouraged to show their talent through their work. Lastly, skilled craftsmanship – Thai designers adopt a detail-oriented approach at each stage of their work from designing to manufacturing the products.

For more information, visit www.mosstories.com

 

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