From humble beginnings as a small home business that manufactured and sold wicker furniture to a modern global business that employs almost two hundred workers, Khun Anunyaporn “Nueng” Mongkol has taken the company started by her parents to a whole new level in less than three years. With a new generation management mindset, she has developed the unique selling points products she has been familiar with since birth.
However, before realizing the potential of the wicker business, Khun Nueng worked as a full-time employee for another company. During that time, she continued to look for more distribution channels for her family’s products other than just selling at their hometown in Chantaburi. When she identified a new market opportunity, she quit her job, opened a fully-fledged business and built a factory to sell the products under the brand name SARNN.
“In the beginning I thought it would be difficult and considered ‘would I be able to deliver the products?’ It’s not like selling clothes, bags or cosmetics where customers buy the goods and leave. With furniture, you need to ex- plain, manufacture and deliver; the entire process is much more complicated. When I looked at what we had, I realized we already had a strong point and all I needed was to change my mindset. Our selling point is that our product is rare, which makes it difficult for others to copy. We understand that our costs are high and it takes a long time to make this type of furniture, therefore we cannot manufacture and sell these products the same way. What we did was to get people interested so that they think of us when they think of wicker products. Now, they come to buy from us,” she says.
“I needed to build trust with the older generation who did this type of work before us. My parents didn’t understand the new business structure, they thought expanding the business would mean more investment. They didn’t really dare to take too many risks. But for the new generation, we have many more tools, including online sales and franchising.
“After collecting sufficient information, I knew which type of products were preferred by home owners and which type of products were preferred by hotels and resorts. When pitching, we adapted to the demands of our customers. Other than selling through our store in our home town, we have another outlet at Paradise Park (Srinakarin) as well as exhibitions and ex- ports to many countries. Mainly, our customers are from the interior design business and every time hotels renovate, we get a lot of orders” she adds.
When asked how she was able to grow her family’s handmade products exponentially, simply says, “I stick to the truth and work hard. Therefore, start with what you have, work hard until you become a guru and customers will come to you. I’ve also found that another important mindset is to open up and be sociable.”