UNITED MOTOR Works (Siam) Public Co (UMWS), a leading distributor of high-quality industrial and automotive tools, equipment and machinery in Thailand and Indochina, has plans to expand to Myanmar and other countries in the region.
Atsushi Tomita, managing director of UMWS, said that the firm plans set up a business presence in Myanmar, Laos, Malaysia and Cambodia over the next three years.
The firm is also looking to expand its network in the Asean Economic Community, and Vietnam, Indonesia and India are potential markets to enter as the next stage, he said.
“Myanmar is our second largest market in Asean after Thailand because they are neighbouring countries. Sharing the growth in their mechanisation will benefit both countries,” he said.
“It is our policy and direction to set up our network under brand engagement with local people, to empower the business by which market share will follow – hopefully indouble digits.”
Tomita said the firm would officially launch in Myanmar next year, bringing its Thai product range and other products to meet local market demands. It will mainly focus on handling and lifting equipment as well as automotive garage items.
Tomita expects to face some challenges at the initial stage, given the potentially fierce competition in the Myanmar market. Yet, he seems upbeat.
“We need to fit the culture and situation of the Myanmar market and hope to ease our challenges by engaging with the right local partner. We will ensure we recruit local people to manage the market,” he said.
Tomita is proud to share the firm’s mission to be among the top three in its market segment. He has committed to reach a new milestone in Thailand before expansion to other nations.
“We aim to secure the quality of products and services. It means the right products with the right services will go up to the top three positions in any marketplace,” he said.
Established in 1947, UMWS is a public company with 59 shareholders – 57 Thais and two expatriates. It has a total of 8 million shares, with registered capital fixed at Bt300 million. Its current paid-up capital is Bt80 million.
According to Tomita, at least 10 per cent of the firm’s registered capital would be spent for its overseas expansion over the next three years.
“Depending on the demand, we will continue growing the overseas business further, hopefully to 50 per cent in the future,” he said.
He said information technology (IT) support would be the key to breaking the barriers.
“It will be an era of opportunity with IoT (the Internet of things) and AI (artificial intelligence) disrupting the industry,” he said.
Tomita also hinted about potential expansion beyond Asia Pacific.
“It would depend on what particular value we can provide to those markets. If we have the right resources and products, we will challenge,” he said.
He stressed the importance of digital engagement in the firm’s future activities.
“In the coming digital world, there is no specific finish line – the possibility for enhancement, innovation and growth is endless and continuing. As the power of digital technology continues to emerge, our market will be uniquely positioned to drive this world of digital opportunity,” he said.
“It is automatically forcing us to change our way of communication and approach with our market, and to cope with this new wave and to embrace the technology advances, we are moving to a new communication field with our new action plan.
“This digital investment is not just a story of technology, but it is a story of our economic and business growth as well.”
Tomita believes digital engagement will strongly contribute to the firm’s productivity and service quality.
The firm was de-listed from the Stock Exchange of Thailand during the financial crisis in 1997 when, according to him, the stock market did not reflect the real business value in the company’s shares.
He said it took a long time to recover business growth, as the equipment business is capital intensive.
“We have wisely managed the funds for the equipment with leasing companies to expand our rental assets. There are always pros and cons in any field, and a healthy security market would be the key to decide if we go back to a SET listing at the right time,” he said.