Dom Hetrakul, well-known actor and member of the family that has run the Daily News for nearly 50 years, set up his own business out of a passion for big bikes and the inspiration they had given him from an early age.
Dom, 36, who is managing director of Britbike, the authorised distributor of Triumph motorcycles from the United Kingdom, said that growing up in a family with a solid business system had helped him to understand what was needed to run a successful operation.
The Daily News, the country’s leading daily newspaper founded by Dom’s grandfather Saeng Hetrakul in 1964, is now run by his father, Pracha Hetrakul.
“All businesses have their own framework and by entering any business, it means you enter into a system. Anyway, any business system can collapse without the love and passion to make it successful,” said Dom.
“For myself, I’m doing business out of love. I have grown up in a family with a good business system. The business will generate good confidence if we understand and accept the system,” he added.
Dom said he first had first developed a passion for large motorcycles when he was about 13 and studying at Assumption Bangrak School in Bangkok. One day, he saw a beautiful big bike stopped at a red light, and that kicked off his love affair with them.
He read as much as he could and built up an understanding about large bikes from books and magazines until the age of 20, when he got his first Harley-Davidson.
“I don’t, however, collect motorcycles as they depreciate in value, unlike jewellery and watches,” said Dom, who now owns three Triumphs.
“I chose Triumph after an in-depth study of its products and from my own point of view as a motorcycle rider, from which I saw its philosophy in design and engineering. Triumph is a middle-end motorcycle brand and has a good product portfolio that serves the different demands and lifestyles of big-bike lovers,” he said.
Dom first transferred his passion into the business arena in 2006 when he approached Triumph in Britain about becoming its official distributor in Thailand. He met Nick Bloor, who was export manager at the time and is now chief executive officer of the company. Bloor is a son of founder, John Bloor, who resurrected the bankrupt Triumph.
Dom and his business plan convinced Bloor about the strong potential for big bikes in the Kingdom. Triumph saw the plan tying in with its own desire to increase its overall production from between 30,000 and 40,000 units per annum to more than 50,000 today. Triumph has also had its own assembly plant at Amata Nakorn Industrial Estate in Chon Buri since 2002. However, 100 per cent of the output is for export.
Dom said big bikes had been imported into Thailand by grey importers since the 1970s, while authorised distributors started doing business legally here only at the end of the 1990s.
Officially opened in 2007, Britbike has sold more than 400 motorcycles to date, about 50 per cent of them classic models, he said, adding that the company has an authorised dealer in Chiang Mai and will appoint another in Khon Kaen by the end of the year. It also has a service centre in Phuket.
Big bikes currently represent less than 1 per cent of the Thai motorcycle market, which is worth more than Bt7.5 billion in total.
“We offer 14 models in four ranges: classic, cruiser, supersport and roadster, and adventure and touring. Our big bikes range from 675cc right up to 2,300cc, with prices from Bt650,000 to Bt1.3 million,” said Dom.
He has also used his career and experience as an actor to make himself the presenter and ambassador for Triumph in Thailand. However, he now devotes the bulk of his time, 70 per cent, to the motorcycle business.
The main target customers tend to be well-educated people in their late 20s with a monthly income of between Bt40,000 and Bt50,000, and who love to travel and experience something different, he said.
“I would like to see Triumph as a big-bike brand that is trusted by local motorcycle lovers. We also want the business to provide a good return for our dealers by having a good number of loyal customers,” he added.