Record auto sales boosts tinted-film industry
The record number of automobiles sold in Thailand last year has done wonders for supporting industries such as the tinted-film industry, particularly for market leader Lamina Films.While the company automotive tinted-film sales usually make up 60 per cent of new cars and 40 per cent of used cars, the ratio changed last year to 80 per cent new cars and 20 per cent used cars, said Techno-Sell (Frey) managing director Channapha Saisamorn.
“We can see the shift caused by the First Car Buyer Programme that ended late last year, she said. Last year a record 1.4 million vehicles were sold in Thailand, courtesy the government’s First Car scheme, and due to the hot climate in this part of the world, most of them are later fitted with tinted film.
Lamina Films entered the Thai market in 1995 as a totally new player and took just five years to claim leadership status, defeating brands belonging to much larger corporations including all-time champion 3M.
Today the brand has become a household name in Thailand when one thinks of tinted film, with a wide range of films for vehicles and buildings being offered for both the OEM and REM markets. Among other things, it has won the Superbrands Thailand Awards for 10 years in a row since 2004, with top marks earned for brand quality, brand affinity and brand personality.
Channapha said the idea to enter the tinted film industry came from her thesis at Thammasat University with three other students 20 years ago.
“We were assigned to produce a business plan, and I proposed that we do one on the tinted-film industry because it was unique. No other students picked this topic,” he said.
The thesis took six months to complete, and after graduation Channapha decided to enter the business, after having seen how attractive it is.
“I presented the idea to my sister and friends, and we decided to start the business,” she said.With a registered capital of Bt1 million, Techno-Sell (Frey) was set up in 1995 to distribute tinted film under the Lamina Films brand, which is supplied by Virginia-based CPFilms Inc, the largest producer of tinted film in the world.
But what does Frey mean? “When I was a student I was using a Talking Dictionary translator and once came across the term frey, which is a Nordic God associated with virility and prosperity. It struck me, and I have always fancied this word,” she said.
“So when we were about to start the company, I first wanted to name it Frey International, but after discussions with others, decided to change the name because it could be difficult for Thais to pronounce. However, after changing the name we still maintained the word frey because it had such a great meaning,” Channapha revealed.
After entering the market in 1995, the big break came two years later during the Southeast Asian economic crisis as the automobile market crashed heavily and foreign companies started to cut costs in every way they could.
Tinted films are an effective way to lower temperature and heat in the cabin of the automobile as well as in buildings.
“There are four reasons for our success. The first is having innovative products and services. We started off with six types of film for automobiles, and offered solar film for buildings as well as safety film. Our goal was for the Lamina name to be synonymous with tinted film. We had to be specialists in every type of film,” she said.
Today, Lamina has 42 types of vehicle film and 120 types of building film.
“We must answer the needs of consumers. For example, there are specific films that are used for vehicles with navigation systems or those with Easy Pass modules,” she pointed out.
Lamina was also one of the first tinted-film companies to set up a call centre for customers. “Secondly, we want to be the leader in the service and we started to assist film retailers in raising their standards, whether in terms of service or installation. Our films are sold only through authorised dealers, unlike other brands that are sold freely in the market,¨she said.
In 2003, Lamina started developing premium outlets called Lamina Executive Shop “that provided high-quality installation (for air-conditioned and low-dust rooms) and high service standards than regular shops”.
“Thirdly, we make it a priority to provide the correct facts and information to consumers. For example, you can’t measure the performance of the tinted film with infrared light bulbs like some shops do because the readings will be inaccurate. It has to be done under real sunlight,” she said.
“Lastly, we are engaged in a large number of CSR activities, especially in education, which we have been doing for 12 years, and the environment [6 years],” she said. The company also helps train a large number of capable young people from various communities in order to become tinted-film installation technicians.
Tinted film is also considered an environmentally friendly product since it helps to lower energy usage in automobiles and buildings, said Channapha.
Lamina Films now has 550 authorised dealerships in Thailand, 60 exclusive shops and 1,000 automobile showrooms. Lamina sales are approximately Bt800 million per year while the company’s assets have grown to Bt450 million.
Facts and figures
_ Lamina has been the No 1 selling solar-film brand in Thailand for the past 12 years.- The installation of Lamina film at the 57-storey Empire Building created a world record in the amount of solar film used ¨500,000 square feet (exterior and interior).
_ Lamina Films was chosen by Suvarnabhumi International Airport, with as much as 400,000 square feet of solar film being used. After the film was installed, temperature in the Departure Hall was found to drop by 4 degrees Celcius.
_ Lamina films are used at more than 1,000 7-Eleven branches in Thailand.
_ Lamina film is also used on the six Royal Rain Project airplanes, Seatran ferries and Nakhonchai Air coaches.