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The First Steps to Success: help from the Department of Industrial Promotion (DIP)

The Department of Industry Promotion (DIP) is a low profile government agency focusing on imparting technical and business management systems to small and medium enterprises within Thailand. After the businesses are operating successfully, the Department of Export assists with worldwide marketing. Recently the Chiang Mai bureau of the DIP lead by Mr. Weeranan Nindanuwong, Director, led a 20-member team of business media to see learn about the successful agencies the DIP has been working with for the past seven years. Each Chiang Mai business is in a different field and each has gotten the practical technology advice plus creative psychological support from the DIP staff.

The first company visited is the Chiang Mai International Dec Company whose business is saa or mulberry paper products. The managing director is from the Borsang village and had grown up seeing these products made by families living around his family home. After graduating as a bookkeeper, he wanted go to into this business. He learned the DIP would offer various support to new business owners. According to him, the best advice he received from the DIP was to go back to the village and work in the saa paper production to find out everything there was to know. Know the business inside and out. After one year, he returned to the DIP with full product knowledge and ready for assistance.

The DIP advised him to join the gift show in Paris, France. It was a tough experience for him. He had only himself to decorate his booth, display his products and speak with potential customers. Nothing went easy but he persisted. Thanks to study missions and gift fairs organized by the DIP, he has learned very much. Today, after established for 15 years, the Chiang Mai International Dec Co. is successfully producing gift items for a chain of 2,000 stationary shops in Japan plus his customers are in far away countries such as the Czech Republic. His objective is to produce neat and precise products to suit the taste of the western and Japanese market. Using various second hand cutting machines he bought from Taiwan, boxes and packaging materials in all sizes are produced neatly cut and trimmed. The textured saa paper sheets are produced by the villagers who have been trained by one of his two teams of trainers. Then the materials are given to more skilled villagers who create the gift boxes, diaries, and countless items to be exported abroad.

Finding workers is becoming more difficult, however, the owner invites students to work on simple steps in the production line during their summer holiday. The students realize it's convenient to work in the village as opposed to driving to the city and having to rent a dorm in the city. Also the artistic capable employees learn many skills so they can work on several types of products to prevent their boredom. The factory is fully computerized every step of production.
The second place the media visited was in Mae Khao, a small ceramics producer who has been in business for three years. The DIP assisted the owners to develop their products and skills to be qualified to receive ISO listing. This ceramic kiln is producing for other band name agents who put their own name on the products. Celadon coffee cups and table ware are popular products. At the moment, highest sales are from the major line of ceramics products are for spa use.

The third place to inspect was Nithi Foods, a food supplier to the instant noodle business. This business has been producing garlic prepared in several ways and black pepper products for nearly eight years. The production area is very hygienic. The fuel cost is about 30% lower here than other factories because they chose to use LPG. The workers all wear hair nets, caps, aprons, shoe covers and proper garments to ensure the cleanliness. Though the machinery would be a very high cost factor of operations, the owner being an engineer was able to design and make the machinery for each application. The DIP provided for four months computer technology team to work with the factory to set up materials control, manufacturing control and general accounting systems. The food supplier has won countless awards all the way up to a special award from Thailand's prime minister's office.

The final place for inspection was to a hand weaving factory located in Ban Doi Kaew in Sanpatong. The director of this center has been a bank manager by profession who wanted to help the housewives in the neighborhood who are weavers. She fell in love with weaving and submerged herself into weaving and dying. She was not aware of the environmental damage that resulted in a large scale setup. She herself found her skin was allergic to the threads and weaving dyes. Even more cause for concern was the trees in her fruit orchard where water of the ‘natural dyes' was disposed of, perished before her eyes. An engineer of the DIP set up an ingenious method of treating the water. When we looked into the well of cleaned water, we saw two frogs swimming around.

Several times a year there are exhibitions open to the public to buy handmade products. The most well know is the fair held every December. You can call the following numbers to know what's going on next month. NORTHERN INDUSTRIAL PROMOTION CENTER, 158 Thoong Hotel Road., Tel. 053-245361-2, 053-243494, 053-242226.

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