Time is a testament to the strength of a business. Over the years, modern technology and ongoing advancement have changed the way people do business, and the logistics industry is no exception. The internet created a truly global marketplace, with distance no longer the barrier it had once been. Of course, this caused fundamental changes in the way the global economy operates, and there are many failed logistics service providers that could not find a way to adapt. On the other side of the spectrum, there are some who have evolved, thrived and are now stronger than ever.
Long-standing Thai freight forwarder Profreight can certainly be placed in the latter group. With a solid track record of capability and adaptability spanning more than 20 years, Profreight has gained unrivalled industry expertise while still maintaining a strong identity.
Now, thanks to strong growth and business development, Profreight is moving to a new home. The new office of Profreight on Srinakarindha Road is one of the biggest offices of freight forwarders in Thailand. It stands as proof of how far the company has come since its first step in 1988. Today, Profreight has over 300 employees working in the seven story building, which includes a 700 sqm warehouse in the back. The building not only speaks to Profreight’s success, but it is also a dream come true for Profreight’s two executives: Mr. Suwit Ratanachinda, Managing Director, and Mr. Rasami Asawasangsit, Director. In this issue, LM had the chance to speak with them about the story behind the new building and their visions for the future.
A LONG TIME COMING
Profreight’s history began more than 20 years ago with just seven employees in an office on Silom Road. After four years of rapid growth, they moved to a new location in Ekkamai, where Mr. Ratanachinda and Mr. Asawasangsit nurtured the company for 22 years. Today, the newest building houses all six companies of Profreight International, including TIFFA EDI.
Mr. Ratanachinda shared the history of this site, “Mr. Asawasangsit and I first discussed this move eight years ago. Finding a suitable location alone took almost a year, as we wanted a location convenient for travelling, not far from the warehouses at Laem Chabang and Amata, Laem Chabang Port and Suvarnabhumi International Airport. Being located on the highway is also beneficial for transport, but we had to overcome the problem of finding a site that can be used for commercial purposes, as many areas are classified as residential areas.”
When the land was acquired eight years ago, the BTS train system had not yet unveiled their plans for the ‘Yellow Line’ (Ladprao-Bangkapi-Samrong), which is due to be completed within five years. Once completed, a BTS station directly opposite Profreight’s location will drive up the price of the land much more. Mr. Ratanachinda commented, “Investing in real estate, unlike stock investment, is more concrete in the increased value of the land. Especially in the Bang Na area, the market is almost mature, with the Sky Train and Bangkok Mall, which is anticipated to be one of the largest shopping centers in and around Bangkok. Since we bought the land, its value has already tripled and is likely to increase even more in the future.”
CLASSIC AND MODERN COMBINED
Visitors to the new Profreight building will have noticed its unique structure and interior. A perfect blend between modern style and outstanding Thai architecture can be seen throughout the premises, from the exterior to the interior. Most important is how Profreight portrays its logistics background from the first step inside the building. Profreight’s brightly colored 3D container paintings on the wall at the entrance are an example of the modern and industrial style of decoration.
That contrasts but perfectly balances with the antique Northern ‘Lanna’ style door frame which is beautifully carved with dancing Thai angels. It’s a combination that attracts every passing eye. Mr. Ratanachinda shared the idea behind the décor, “Mr. Asawasangsit and I have traveled all over the world. From that, we both agreed to develop a building that will tell people about what we do at first glance. Moreover, as an antique collector myself, I love everything that reflects Thai culture. So as we discussed the design with our interior designer, we asked them to combine these concepts together. That is how we ended up with this culture-rich modern office that you can see.”
OUR PEOPLE ARE OUR PRIORITY
Profreight’s upper floor is designed for office activities; it provides ample space and a bright and airy look for a relaxing work atmosphere. Mr. Ratanachinda and Mr. Asawasangsit have always been concerned about the well-being of their staff. “Our old office was only 1,000 square meters, making it a relatively small office considering the number of employees. When we moved here, I can see our staff are happier.”
“We have our own cafeteria, shuttle bus services between BTS Udom Suk and Seacon Square. Parking space has increased from only 50 spots at the old building. Now we have a five-story parking facility,” said Mr. Ratanachinda. “We believe that a happy team does happy work. That is one pillar that we stand firm on. Over the past 3-4 months our people have been happy with this new place. Our jobs in logistics always involve working under tight deadlines and causing our staffs to face considerable stress each day. This positive environment can help reduce such stress. In terms of our corporate image, our partners and customers can see how strong and professional we are with this new building. I want to tell them that we are not here to make quick profits – we are here for the future.”
Even though modern technology may be leading to the replacement of human labor by machines, Profreight has always emphasized that their priority lies with their people. Mr. Asawasangsit said, “When we moved to our office at Ekamai, people were expecting that soon employees would be able to work from home, without having to come into the office. But that change hasn’t happened yet, because we still need people to perform most tasks.” Mr. Ratanachinda added, “Technology advancement help us do things more efficiently, but it is only a tool. We always need people here to use these tools and get our work going.”
Similarly to when EDI systems came into the industry, many thought that it would be very damaging to logistics operators. But from that day till now, we still keep growing and becoming even stronger with the aid of our dedicated people. Many people forgot that our business is about servicing and services need the human touch, conversation and relationships. We always need new ideas to meet our deadlines and resolve unforeseen problems that could arise at any time.”
PREPARE FOR THE AEC
When it comes to a global comprehensive network of service, Profreight can provide service to almost anywhere in the world. With Thailand as its home base at the center of the ever-growing South East Asia region, Profreight is among the leading providers that are ready for the commencement of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).
Mr. Ratanachinda said, “The most important factor is the preparedness of the organization. Over our 27 years of history, we have been through difficult situations and continue growing stronger every year. With our decades of experience and seasoned staff, I believe we are able to stay neck and neck with any competitors both locally and internationally. Our firm footprint in ASEAN began as early as our first office opening in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao) in 2009. Also we have recently begun to provide ground handling service at Wattay International Airport (VTE) in Vientiane. We also offer a comprehensive service including every aspect of transportation, which is more than enough evidence to show how ready we are to take part in our regional stage.”
Finally, Mr. Ratanachinda shared a bit of wisdom for the logistics industry, “There is a lot to learn in logistics. It may not be as colorful as some other industries. But flashy bright lights do not usually last long, unlike logistics, which will never stop as long as the business is still going. Even without flashy colors, we are strong and sustainable.”