In Thailand, the name Leenutaphong rings with repute for a longstanding involvement with automobiles, from being official importers of BMW and Volkswagen, to many other premium vehicles. Third-generation scion Apichat “Nat” Leenutaphong has since moved away from his family’s core business to build a legacy of his own. Today, he sits at the helm as CEO and founder of Sharich Holding, the official importers of super-premium vehicles such as Ducati, Royal Enfield motorcycles, NIU electric scooters, and BYD electric cars. Also under his belt are his state-of-the-art gadget licenses, including the home-cleaning iRobot from the USA, UK’s stylPro makeup brush cleaners, and IQAir Air purifiers from Switzerland.
With all that combined, he and his wife ML Ploynapat “Kwan” Leenutaphong can be considered Bangkok’s supercar and gadget power-pair — a duo who these days are mostly preoccupied with their recent acquisition of the import and distribution rights for the iconic Italian supersports car, Lamborghini. We sat down with the two to talk about bringing Lamborghini to Thailand, their views on work, life, and love, as well as the key to happiness.
Customer service always comes first.
Spanning over 4,000 square metres of stunning glossy black, Nat’s Lamborghini Bangkok Showroom and Service Center rises on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road, and comes complete with top-of-the-line services. Think air-conditioned closed garages with no trace of dust, and a guarantee that cars will be washed both before and after each fix — and that’s just the minimum standard of what’s offered. To Nat, ensuring customer satisfaction is key to the success of a business, especially in his field. “We have to take the best care of the customer’s car so that it is flawlessly perfect on delivery date. The market for supersports cars in Thailand is a small one, and this segment isn’t going to get any better. The only thing you can do is to make sure you maintain the brand and offer exceptional after-sales service, so people will want to buy with us. You cannot force anyone to buy your products. It’s only when people see the value of what you are offering, that they will come to you themselves.”
To Kwan, who oversees the satisfaction of both customers and staff as the company’s co-founder Chief Happiness Officer, part of offering good customer service is to see things from their perspective. Herself a customer of the finer things in life, she makes it a point to tie-in her own experiences with shopping at stores for handbags, jewellery, and the like, into her staff training. “I’m definitely a shopper, and thus feel the need to share my experiences as a customer with the team because they may not have exposure to these expectations and won’t understand. Our own experiences on what’s missing, or what could be improved are fundamentals I must explain to the team, because we’re now servicing extremely premium customers.”
Lamborghini’s aren’t intimidating — just make sure your car is always at 100%.
Considering that his father, Baromkot Leenutaphong, was a Thai racing champion back in the 80s, Nat’s love for supersports cars comes as little surprise. He recounts a childhood spent folding miniature paper cars to draw his own designs on them, and receiving toy cars as souvenirs whenever relatives returned home from their travels. He draws our attention to the Lamborghini’s streamlined silhouette, angular lines, and even the smallest of details — from the carbon and leather, to the thread used in creating these auto masterpieces. “For true auto enthusiasts, Lamborghini still retains its character, be it in design or engine. It’s one of the few supersports cars that has no turbo and still uses natural aspiration engine. This retains the fierce sounds of its engines and the mood that comes with driving it, along with technology that ensures safety.”
He imparts tidbits of advice for the first-time supercar buyer. “Many people are intimidated and scared of a supersports car, fearing it would be hard to drive and take care of. That may have been true in the 70s and 80s, but today supersports cars like the Lamborghini Huracán can be used in daily life.” The key to safety and care, for both driver and car, lies in maintenance, Nat tells us, explaining the importance of making sure that the car is functioning at 100 percent capacity. “One hundred percent means all tires, engine, and bottom body are ready and the vehicle has also been consistently checked for performance.”
And, of course, you can drive fast — but know your limits.
“Driving at 200km/hr does not feel that fast, but it will definitely feel different down a road you’ve never taken before,” Nat explains. “It’s very important to never be heedless and to educate yourself about the roads you are taking, especially if they are environments you are not familiar with.”
As for his own speed-limits, Nat jokes that he rarely gets as heady and speedy anymore, possibly because of his age. “Being conscious and fully aware of all moments in your life really reminds you that it’s not good to risk things in the spur of the moment just for a bit of vindication. It’s better to stay within your limits.”
It is possible to be husband and wife, and great business partners at the same time.
Considered Bangkok’s automobile and gadget power-duo, Nat and Kwan are currently deeply involved in the setup of Lamborghini Thailand — a stage in life where work at times outweighs many other aspects. Stylish and career-focused, it’s easy to forget that the pair tied the knot 16 years ago, and also share a happy family life with their 12 year old son Teetat. When asked how they maneuver their relationships between business partners and husband and wife, Kwan brings up a bit of Thai wisdom. “There’s a popular Thai analogy where women are considered an elephant’s hind legs — following the front legs that provide direction, but equally integral to the overall stability and support of the animal. If you’re working together, I don’t believe a woman has to be the hind legs, but she needs to have good judgement as to when to be the hind legs, or walk alongside her partner.”
Timing is very important for Kwan, who goes on to explain that disagreements are best dealt with privately. “This will let your partner know that you are the best advisor, because there is no one out there who will be more sincere, or have the courage to confront you, than your other half. It’s like being a mirror to our loved ones, but it’s important to be the reflection at the right time, and to communicate well.” She adds with conviction that she views her role as one that holds the family together. “In a marriage, the woman needs to be stable and strong on her own. I feel like I need to be the pillar of strength for Nat and our family.”
You don’t always need to have the perfect work-life balance.
Though most of the trips taken by the couple these days revolve around work, the family still makes time to go on holiday thrice a year, whenever their son is on school break. While Kwan has personally grown fond of Dubai, especially during December, they tend to choose spots that revolve around musicals, historical sites, and bookstores — mainly for their son. A funny quirk that makes both parents laugh is the fact that young Theetat barely has any interest in the Lamborghinis his parents sell, and would rather spend his time enjoying books and history. “My son is very humble and down to earth — he clearly did not get any of my genes,” Kwan jokes with a laugh. “He doesn’t like expensive things and actually begs me to not pick him up from school in certain cars because they are too much. He actually loves to get dropped off with a scooter because he doesn’t like to attract attention with these things.”
While people often glorify the ideal work-life balance, and living in a way where time is equally spent on both sides, Kwan reminds us that it is okay to not have that balance down 100%, and to have your own set of priorities — one that, of course, will change with time. “Right now, our busy schedules do not allow us to travel as much or have time together as a family, but we always say that one day, when everything’s in place, we will have time to rest. But that day is not today, so we need to fight on for now.”
Happiness comes from within.
“I love going to work,” Kwan tells us, “because getting to solve problems and teaching my staff how to address the concerns of our customers, makes me happy. I feel that making others happy is like making merit too. There’s no need to go to the temple to do so, as it’s something you can do anytime, everyday. People like to think that happiness is around you, but in truth it’s actually inside you. Adjusting your inside a little can make you happier. I may have reasons to not be happy, but I choose to not fixate on them. People try to acquire material things and fly first class, but if their mind is not happy, nothing material can make them happy.”
To share said happiness is the ultimate goal.
Not only is he the driving force behind Lamborghini in Thailand, but Nat is also a devout practitioner of Buddha’s teachings — he meditates daily, and will host monks chants and lectures in the Lamborghini showroom every trimester. He shares how he began his journey, and his larger goals for Sharich. “I think when I was young, it was about wanting to prove myself that I could do it. It was very difficult to do so because my father didn’t give me any funding, but I had all the experiences and knowledge from my education, as well as from my time being involved in the family business.”
Fast-forward to today, and his company is thriving, but expansion isn’t his big goal — creating happiness is. “We’re not looking to expand into a big company,” he says simply, “our aim is that we want people who buy our products to be happy, as well as our staff. I always enforce work ethics of correctness and also tell my staff to never cheat or lie to customers, nor to take advantage of their colleagues. This is the basis of running our business. On days when we hand over the car, I feel like I am not just selling a car, but that I’m creating happiness for our clients. “I feel that if I can pass on knowledge and happiness, it’s more than worthwhile that I am in business.”
Photographer: Bigs Vatcharasith Wichyanrat
Stylist: Saranya Ariyakul
Makeup: Pisanu Deeviputh
Hair: Anchalee Seehawanlop
Editorial Coordinator: Hattapon Chuaykrajang
Car: Lamborghini Huracán Evo Spyder Blu Sideris Colour
Jewellery: Gems Pavillion