Riding the highs and lows

Riding the highs and lows

Over the past two decades, the Thai construction industry has experienced multiple booms and slumps. Through it all, the company Rojana Pattana has navigated its way to prosperity. It is a tough player and a smart and efficient one too.

Forty kilometers north of Bangkok, dozens of trucks form a line inside Rojana Pattana’s depot, moving one by one to a gas station for refueling. The hum of engines breaks the silence of dawn to signal another busy day.

Behind the scenes of a modern city 
At 5:30 AM, a convoy of semi-trailer trucks snakes through rural roads. The fleet is taking gravel from nearby provinces for use in the ever-expanding infrastructure and property development projects in metropolitan Bangkok.
During peak months, the trucks operate from dawn well into the night. On average, the trucks make three delivery rounds per day, bringing thousands of tons of gravel from the neighboring provinces to Bangkok and its suburbs. By the company’s own calculation, each truck covers about 700 kilometers per day.

Riding the highs and lows

“We feel that we helped build the foundations of high rises and infrastructure of modern Bangkok,” says Nattanicha Pannapat, who runs Rojana Pattana’s day- to-day operations. “We supply a good number of construction sites in the capital and our clients rely on our deliveries.”

Riding the highs and lows

Rojana Pattana’s client base recently grew to include a host of condominium developers, the Bangkok metro rail system, large industrial estates and government roadworks.

Stay alive to thrive
As Assistant Managing Director of Rojana Pattana, Nattanicha Pannapat was prepared by her father to become the company’s future leader. “My father made sure I learned how to reach out to all types of people, make proper judgement and turn challenges into opportunities.”

Rojana Pattana’s history is full of stories about overcoming challenges and about being able to consistently provide a trustworthy service to clients. When the company was founded in 1995, it was in the midst of a property bubble in Thailand that eventually triggered the 1997 Asian financial crisis. The property and construction industry crashed along with swathes of other industries. Thousands of companies went bankrupt. 

But being a new company meant Rojana Pattana’s base was still small, so the financial impact was not overwhelming. Nevertheless, surviving the economic collapse was everyone’s main preoccupation at the time. 

Riding the highs and lows

The company ended up working as a subcontractor for the Siam Cement Group (SCG), Thailand’s largest cement company, which was expanding its sub-brand of ready-mix cement. Even at very low profit margins, the company kept working with SCG to keep the business afloat and avoid degrading its assets.The strategy paid off. 

Efficiency enabled flexibility 
“Business took off. SCG wanted to change its service by adding the new aspect of on-time delivery. But many of its old partners were resistant to change. This opened a major opportunity for our company. Our partnerships also expanded because people trusted us,” recalls Nattanicha Pannapat of the company’s breakthrough. 

Building trust meant Rojana Pattana had to always deliver on time. This required reliable equipment at a price deemed reasonable for a startup company. It became an early adopter of UD Trucks in Thailand. 

Riding the highs and lows

Specifically built for logistics operators in fast-growing economies, Quester gained immediate praise from the company’s drivers and technicians. Detchai Chairat, Rojana Pattana’s head mechanic for the past nine years, says: “Questers are quite durable. We hardly have to do any repairs during the first few years of usage. Our drivers find them comfortable, smooth to handle and quite stable during deliveries.” Fuel savings are notable, he adds, because Quester runs between 3.5 to 3.9 kilometers per liter of fuel, giving it a significant edge over other brands in the fleet. 


Riding the highs and lows

Apart from the truck itself, UD’s aftermarket services have also impressed Rojana Pattana. A mobile maintenance service is available for trucks within the warranty period. Drivers can call for onsite repair if needed, a very convenient solution especially if problems arise on a weekend. 

“UD actually understands our need to be able to conduct business properly. We like the fact that we can call their key people directly when we need support. They’ve also been accurate about delivery times for spare parts and repairs. This is important because our business requires certainty,” Nattanicha Pannapat explains.

In past years, political turmoil has cast economic uncertainty in the country. For Rojana Pattana, the impact was a ten per cent decline in revenue in 2018 because a significant number of government infrastructure projects were put on hold when elections were announced for 2019. However, when it comes to looking forward, Nattanicha Pannapat beams with optimism. “After the election, there will be a new wave of investments in construction and property development. We will be ready to respond to these opportunities and break into larger markets.” 

The story was published in Volvo Group Magazine, Issue 1, 2019

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