“Adding value to our products can create loyalty to our brand” --An interview with the managing director of a Thai jewelry manufacturer
A One 2007 Co., Ltd.
Ms. Poonsri Phasuniramol (Managing Director)
Many business people from abroad including the emerging countries have participated in HIDA training programs. Positions of the targeted audience vary with the programs, and there are some programs aimed for top executives.
This time, we interviewed with a person who runs a company specializing in jewelry manufacture in Thailand.
--Please explain your company profile first.
A One 2007 Co., Ltd., established in 2007, is located in the southern part of Bangkok, and specializes in jewelry manufacture, both in silver and alternative metals. We operate facilities doing the whole range of work, from design, casting, finishing and finally to packing. The factory is suitable for private label jewelries, which are OEM (original equipment manufacturer) type jewelry line products being sold at department stores, which we develop, manufacture and pack. Our company is an SME, and we have 20 employees now. We produce earrings, bangles, pendants, and rings, with or without stones, cubic zirconia, crystal, and marcasite. We export our products mainly to the USA and Europe.
Our management philosophy focuses on the following:
Employees are the important asset of the business. No business can be operated without employees. The ability and the right of each employee is one of the keys to success in business. Each employee must feel as if they are a part of the organization.
Customers are just as much a part of a business as employees. How we treat them is an important part of our management philosophy. Products and service must meet the actual and perceived needs of the customers.
Business conditions always change, but change is good:
A successful business assumes it must change, and looks for opportunities to change. These are changes that will enable the business to become more efficient, move into new markets, take advantage of new technologies, or reduce the impact of downward movements in the economy.
--Do you think of any challenges that hinder your company business to grow and develop further? What kind of actions do you think need to be taken to address the above-mentioned “challenges”?
In light of the OEM type of business, we always faced with price challenges and have no other choice but to compete with others with lower prices. The impact of this downward movement and the slow economy reflects on our business, and the situation has become much tougher. Customers ask for smaller lots of orders, which leads to increasing cost reversion, and is not effective in terms of economy of scales. The market is dictated by the buyer.
We have to turn ourselves into a design manufacturer and move forward to become a brand manufacturer. We have to think where we can add value to our products and how to create demand. Development of consumer loyalty through establishing a strong brand image can deter customers going for competitor’s products, and that is one of the ways to grow our business. At the same time, with our current private label part of the business (OEM types of business), we need to enhance our products and service to meet the need of customers.
--How do you view the current status of your business in the global market?
We currently export about 95% of our sales to the USA and the rest to Europe. We can compete in terms of quality and design with other suppliers for both local and overseas companies, but price is always a challenge.
As mentioned above, business is tough everywhere generally speaking. Some say, the USA market is picking up but we don’t see this clearly. Business in the U.S. is still slow even though the presidential election is approaching soon.
--Are you planning to expand your business overseas? What does your company consider important and wish to focus on to lead your business overseas to a success?
We do not have any business in the Japanese market yet, but would like to try to start. We do need to understand the tastes of Japanese consumers, their nature and culture as well as their buying patterns. There are a lot of things to learn before entering the Japanese market.
Besides product quality, good service and competitive price, we are focusing on the uniqueness of design and technology. Adding value to our products can create loyalty to our brand.
In our perception of doing business with Japanese companies, quality and customer service are important and we must emphasize these the most. Finding the right Japanese partner could have a positive effect on the business.
--Please tell us about the current market environment of your business in your country.
Thailand has a rich history in jewelry. Its natural resources, production capacity, and excellent craftsmanship all make Thailand a famous country for jewelry. However, Thailand is less competitive due to higher costs and weakness of product development. There is great competition in the Thai jewelry market, and many manufacturers have closed down in recent years because price competition has become more intensive.
Our competitive advantage is the knowledge and the expertise, good quality with the right price and delivery service to our customers, and these create a good relationship with our customers. We are trying to be flexible enough to meet any changes.
Human Resource Development is always our prime concern. We are focusing on the idea that people matter. We believe it is important to invest in ourselves and our staff to develop skills through various seminars and training. We are organizing in house workshops related to design and also some other necessary skills and knowledge through the seminars that outside sources provide, such as government related organizations.
Another challenge is potential employees. How to find the right and capable people to work in our factory, which is located in a remote area, is a challenge in terms of HRD.
Furthermore, it seems that sometimes staff do not see any benefit in attending seminars, preferring to finish their work in working hours, because the work they have to do is left and they have to return to do it after participating in seminars. Even so, we try to motivate our staff to go to seminars to improve their knowledge by providing some allowances to them.
--What is your impression about Japan and Japanese companies? Please share with us an episode or experience that surprised or touched you.
Regarding my impression about the Japanese and Japanese companies, I do like Japanese people because they are kind and very sweet. Japanese companies are very firm and well organized, detail oriented and respect seniority. With this culture, people in the organization are very respectful to their superiors and management. These are good for a firm. I was impressed not only by the Japanese people, but also by the culture and food.