AT THE CORE

Thailand 2017 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Suradech Taweesaengsakulthai, President of Cho Thavee, on the business of exports and the impact of ASEAN.

Suradech Taweesaengsakulthai
BIOGRAPHY
Suradech Taweesaengsakulthai has an educational background in automotive engineering and business administration. He is the President of Cho Thavee.

How has the company expanded from distribution services into manufacturing cargo and catering trucks?

As a seller of trucks in the northeast of Thailand, we figured that it was difficult to meet the needs of our customers because there were no factories offering cargo bodies in this region. Therefore, my father decided to offer the cargo body. When I was growing up in Thailand, cargo bodies were often just a wooden box or a basic steel body, sometimes even a small cement trailer. Today, we have developed a number of new products, catering to several industries and sectors around the world. To illustrate this, most of our exports are to the Middle East, specifically the UAE and Oman, and, more surprisingly, we serve airports. In Abu Dhabi and Dubai, for example, we supply 100% and 70% respectively of all catering trucks used at their international airports. The company manages these exports by itself, meaning we have to market ourselves in these markets. Furthermore, we export to the end user; we do not use a middle company. We also export to India, New Zealand, Australia, China, Korea, and across ASEAN, with several major airports using our products. And, of course, back to our roots in Thailand, where we serve all of the airports.

What trends are you noticing in the local industrial engineering sector?

In Thailand, it is difficult to say precisely, but an obvious global trend is that we are moving into a digital economy. Both the logistics and the industrial engineering sectors are becoming more digital, whereby the use of robotics and automation are crucial for everyday business practice. We have our small training center in the company where we train our people on how to utilize robotics and how to use the necessary software for manufacturing. We try to train and create our own people in-house. How digitalization will ultimately affect this complex industry remains to be seen, but it is certainly here and we know we have to be on-board.

How do you think the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will impact your company?

In ASEAN, we will achieve a stronger position in the market because we have a history of exporting. We export all over the world, and we are good at it. We are international in our approach, which means we are ready for ASEAN; it will have a positive impact on us. Of course, there is a chance that other competitors will come into our area, but we will stay strong because we are well established. Singaporeans and Malaysians could outpace us, and then we will realize we need to move and keep our economy strong and competitive.

What are your expectations for 2016?

In 2013, we decided on a 10-year growth strategy, 'Cho 2023.' It is important for the company to pool all of our ideas from across the management teams on how to do business and how to grow together. We have grown rapidly in recent years so it is therefore important to know where we are heading. We are listed on the stock exchange, have around 600 permanent staff, and in 2014 we recorded revenues of approximately THB1.5 billion. Without going into the details of what our internal strategy includes, we make sure to meet for seven days every three months, exchanging information and assessing the core competencies and weaknesses of the company. Continuing with this strategy for the fourth year and acquiring new clients and partners will be our aim for 2016.