While it’s very common for people to join a family business, it’s more unusual to actually start one. But that’s exactly what Prida Tiasuwan did and in his case, that ‘family’ has now grown to thousands of members.
“After graduating from Thames Valley University with the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in business studies, I worked for two years as an accountant with a car company,” Prida shares. “Then I set up my own family business; I took in my family members – my sister, my brother, all working together with me.”
That business was Pranda Group of which Prida is Chair, which has now been a family concern for almost half a century. A very artistic and creative company, it was actively pure logic which led to its inception.
“While I was at university, I had the United Nations Yearbook open in front of me one day, which was the only economic data from the whole world at that time,” he recalls.
“I could see that in the case of Thailand, the Yearbook clearly stipulated that our competitive advantage, as far as export went, was the gemstone industry. I, therefore, saw an opportunity to turn gemstones into finished jewellery. We’ve been doing that for 48 years now.”
As we’ve grown and hired other people into our family, we’ve created a culture where our company is a second home for whoever joins us.
Family values are what have formed the foundation of everything Pranda has done since, and they remain as strong as ever today. “We worked like a family, because my first workers were my kids, my brother and my sister, and it has therefore been very sustainable because everybody has a share in the company,” Prida says.
That ethic has also continued to the staff hired alongside blood relatives. “As we’ve grown and hired other people into our family, we’ve created a culture where our company is a second home for whoever joins us,” Prida explains.
“We treat them like family members and now it’s an extended family, which has grown to 2,800. Once you treat other people as a family member, then you’ll actually look out for each other.” That feeling of warmth and humanity also manifests in the products that Pranda creates.
“The team are now professionals, who pride themselves on creating precious moments for the public,” Prida reveals. “We are producing jewellery, and jewellery is considered to be something you give to people you love. We’re creating precious moments for both the people who give and the people who receive.”
No matter how close the team becomes, though, there is, of course, still a need for professional development. “Although our culture dictates that we treat people like family members, and we call each other brother and sister – there’s no Mr and Mrs – we have also created a professional way of working with each other,” he explains.
“There are KPIs, there is a career path, there is promotion based on capabilities and so on. It’s a professional way of working, yet we remain brother and sister in a way.”
When it comes to suppliers, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals are at the top of Prida’s priorities. But unlike any other businesses, there are pitfalls to watch out for.
“In our industry, we are dealing with a thousand types of material, and so we have to make sure that our supply chain is very efficient,” he points out.
“And especially in today’s world, the supply chain has to come under the SDGs – we have to be aware that not everyone shares this sort of philosophy. I believe that the new, core value system that was created by the UN, the SDG 17, is something that every company on Earth should follow, and will make them stronger.
“However, due to the size of the raw material varieties, we have to be wary of anyone who might hide irregularities. It happens sometimes so it remains something about which we have to be mindful.”
In many ways, the whole business is built on a very simple and intuitive model. A family culture that aims to do the right thing and please customers with beautiful products. It extends very much to how Prida sees the brand.
“Our brand is based on our country culture – Thai culture. We built a brand that is based on craftsmanship, because Thai people, in my view, have magic hands,” he explains.
“We tend to be very careful working on things and give it our best. For that reason, when people talk about the Pranda Group brand, they’re talking about our people; our proud people, our nimble people, our people who work with hearts and minds. And are happy with it.
“I want my people to feel that they are creators of beautiful moments, that they can walk tall, and feel proud. I want them to feel like artists, not just workers.” Despite COVID-19, Prida tries to look on the bright side. “In the past five years, the technology disruption has become the name of the game,” he says.
“You have to get nearer to your consumer, rather than going through a middle man. That’s where we have to go. We have to adopt this omnichannel, multichannel and big-data world. And, of course, to be able to enjoy that innovation, we have to get our people really involved and part of the new trend.” If the past 48 years are anything to go by, Pranda’s people will be involved and enjoy it too – like one big family.
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