Despite being the leading automotive parts manufacturer in Asia, Thai Summit Group is a family-owned business. The company’s first President and CEO was Chanapun Juangroongruangkit’s father and when he passed away, her mother took over. By the time Chanapun joined, the business had already changed radically from the one her father had established.
As the company’s Senior Vice President, she took things even further, focusing on increasing global sales rather than simply domestic consumption. “When I started, Malaysia was our only overseas customer, but under my lead, we now have seven countries with 17 overseas plants,” she says.
In addition to expansion, Chanapun had one eye on the future. “Internally, I also turned the company into more of a technology-focused company,” she recalls.
“I set up the research and development department, and we set up three R&D testing centres, divided by business unit group: steel and aluminium, plastic, and wiring harnesses. Apart from the carmakers themselves, we are the only part makers who have these kinds of excellent facilities.”
Chanapun’s foresight served the company well as the automotive transformation from fuel to electricity began to take place. “I think disruption is coming, and every player has to prepare for this change,” she says.
“The future of automotive is electric, which not only means a disruption in terms of a product change for customers, but a change in the production process too. The differences begin from design to tool-making and to the press process itself. And not every parts maker has the kind of knowledge required.”
With the knowledge Thai Summit Group has accumulated, it hopes to position itself as an expert provider to car manufacturers worldwide. “We recently set up a new design centre, where we can develop our in-depth knowledge and technology for each of our business units,” Chanapun says.
“Our customers, the car manufacturers – both for the traditional and the new EV brands – don’t have a strong supply chain yet for this new technology. So we want to make sure that we will be their choice in helping them create a new product because again, we can do everything from design to production.”
Of course, any paradigm shift in an industry requires both short- and long-term strategies – maintaining market position and revenue with traditional products, while also investing in technology for the new era. “We are a technology-led company, so rather than seeing EVs as a threat, I see this new market as an opportunity for us to grow. I’m quite confident that we can succeed in the new era because of this technology,” Chanapun says.
“When I started, Malaysia was our only overseas customer, but under my lead, we now have seven countries with 17 overseas plants.”
“Most auto part makers have one or two product groups that they are known for, but at Thai Summit Group, we have a large product group. Our strength is that while we have a higher number of products, we are still able to maintain the focus for each business unit.”
Thai Summit Group certainly has a number advantages over its competitors, including the superiority of its research technology, its wide range of products and its end-to-end manufacturing offering.
“Some competitors only do design, some do the tooling and most of our competitors only do production,” Chanapun explains. “However, we have our design, we have our own tooling shop company, and we have our production facilities. We provide complete solutions from start to finish.”
Chanapun adds that great relationships with suppliers are important to ensure operations run smoothly – the company even has staff dedicated to educating partners.
“We have a supplier development team to help our suppliers, training them and even teaching them the Thai Summit production system. And this team is full time,” she says. “Our philosophy for the whole group is that before we build parts, we build people.”
With a complete offering and a people-centric focus, it’s no wonder Chanapun is proud of the business. “Most people would think of Thailand as a low-cost production industry. But in reality, the cost of living in Thailand, compared with our neighbouring countries, is not cheap anymore,” she points out. “It’s very important for Thai companies to adjust and be able to stand out as global players. We are proud that we can be one of those examples.”
Proudly supported by: