At Prestige, the essence of our content is defined through chronicles of local bourgeoisie, the places they frequent, and the happenings that revolve around them. We relish in the lavish lives of society’s crème de la crème, and as such, are naturally no strangers to the proverbial silver spoon. What strikes us most, however, is when we come across individuals who — rather than simply keeping the spoons tightly clamped in their mouths — take it and use it to dig a path to something even greater. In this series, we talk to three such second-generation successors — CEOs and MDs who have spearheaded their family businesses to become leaders in their respective fields. Among them is Jatuphat “O” Tangkaravakoon.
When we sit down with Jatuphat, he jokes that things would have been troublesome had he used wallpaper for his recent home renovations. Instead, he opted for a fresh coat of paint — courtesy, of course, of TOA paint, where he leads as CEO. A product that ensures both quality and peace of mind for its users, the paint is both why he wouldn’t be needing a paint job again anytime soon, and also one of the key reasons that has made the brand a household name in Thailand since 1964 — back when Jatuphat’s own father founded the business. Today, two decades after he first returned to work for his family’s venture, TOA Paint (Thailand) Public Company Limited is the number one paint manufacturer in the Kingdom, with an enviable 50 percent market share. Production plants and subsidiaries have already been set up across most of the region, including Malaysia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia — the young CEO’s ambition of becoming one of the top three paint manufacturers in Southeast Asia seems very much within reach. Prestige had a chat with Jatuphat regarding his thoughts on progress, change, and taking risks. Here’s what we learned.
It’s important to come up with products that meet real needs.
While paint might be what the coatings giant is mostly known for, it’s not the only thing driving the business forward. Jatuphat tells us about how their product offering has expanded to include construction chemicals, citing their recently launched TOA Supertil — a cement-like adhesive mortar that offers fuss-free tiling usage. The reason behind these expansions are the customers themselves.
“Today, consumers want perfection and to be unique from everyone else,” he explains, “but the work process cannot ensure that — like how construction is rushed and no-one is willing to wait for 21 days for the walls to dry anymore — so we need to come up with products that will solve that. An example is our paints that create smoothness even though the wall’s texture might be uneven. In the past, everyone thought of us as a paint company, but we try to push the idea that paint and walls are interchangeable — so we try to do more with walls these days.”
A little bit of courage can go a long way.
The Purdue Master of Management alumni attributes a lot of TOA’s ongoing success to having the freedom to make decisions. “Since we’re the actual owners, we had the courage to change and were able to change faster than our competitors, who may be subsidiaries waiting on directives from their holding companies abroad. We could move and progress father. This is important because in business you must take risks.”
Succeeding once doesn’t mean you’ll always be on top.
Though he is aware that he has a head start in the industry, Jatuphat definitely does not plan to just sit back and rely on his company’s reputation. “We may have a head start because of our name, but you can’t just cling to your history,” he tells us. “The market has changed, our competitors have changed, and so must we. I see it more as competing with yourself. Once you become this big, if you don’t stop or have any internal problems, your competitors won’t be able to catch up. You really just need to compete with yourself to not have any internal conflicts and to not be living in the past. Even if we are number one, we shouldn’t be arrogant — and that is something we always try to instill in our staff.”
Courtesy is another way to win.
Keeping your ego in check is a big thing for Jatuphat, who considers courtesy as another winning necessity. He recalls when he first joined the company business, “When I started work 20 years ago, Thai people’s working style was to not be aggressive, and you will see that today too. You need to be humble when working with others because we’re Thai and it’s embedded in our nature.”
There’s always going to be competition.
A cyclist in his free time — Jatuphat can often be found cycling at Suvarnabhumi, often even up to 200km — he likens doing business to sports. “I think doing business is like playing sports and there’s always going to be competition. Once you’re done with one event you may rest a bit before preparing for the next. So today you may be happy and you will be for a short while. If you’re sad it will just be a short time too, because it goes up and down all the time.”
Read more about Jatuphat and the other two second-generation successors Tipa “Mol” Nawawattanasub and Narun “Note” Thamavaranukup in the June issue of Prestige, available in all leading bookstores in Thailand.
Photographer: Vatcharasith Wichyanrat
Stylist: Panchanitch Rattanawilai
Stylist’s Assistant: Nichabul Thamyutsakul
Makeup: Punwisit Sukarom and Noravich Techarattanasirikun
Hair: Kampanat Wongsalung
Editorial Coordinator: Rattanachai Chaipornsantikul