WHEN Thanasarn Khamruangrig set up a company to distribute milk products in Chiang Mai province he already had plenty of experience in the dairy industry.
Thanasarn, 45, had been working for a milk producer when he seized the opportunity to start his own business. A decision to add production capability to the business now sees the milk go out to local schools under his own brand, Gold Milk, among other related ventures. With the combined production and distribution operations, sales come in at an average of Bt700 million a year.
“I decided to establish my own business when my employer, who was a producer and distributor of milk to the market, needed a new distribution agent to get this product to the market,” Thanasarn said in an interview with The Nation recently.
“My employer suggested to me that I open my own firm to act as his distribution agent. As a result, I decided to spend some of my savings and added this to a loan from a commercial bank to establish my own business, TK Dairy Gold Co Ltd. It began with registered capital of Bt1 million in 2002.”
After building up the distribution business, Thanasarn undertook an expansion that saw him invest his own funds in the establishment of a production plant to produce pasteurised milk and UHT milk.
He bought the raw cow’s milk from farmers and distributed the pasteurised and UHT milk under the school milk programme in Chiang Mai province.
The expansion continued when he set up his own dairy farm in 2004, with imports of Guernsey cows from Australia. The milk they produce is known for its distinctive yellow colour, and the golden hue lent itself to the name of the Gold Milk brand.
“I learnt how to do the business from my old employer, but then I sought to improve my skills by studying for a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Far Eastern University in Chiang Mai,” said Thanasarn, who continued working during that period. “I then gained a master’s degree in agro-industry from Chiang Mai University and also graduated with a PhD.
“By working and studying at the same time, that helped to improve my business skills and thus expand the business from being a distributorship to also own and run a farm and a manufacturing plant. This helped to ensure our business success and generate strong income to improve our business growth.”
Gold Milk Group comprises four companies. TK Dairy Gold Co Ltd, which buys milk from farmers, now has a total of 122 farms in Lam Phun, Gold Milk Co Ltd produces and distributes school milk, while TK Ranch Farm Co Ltd operates the dairy farm, and Gold Milk Farm Co Ltd produces and distributes the Gold Milk brand via modern trade channels to the market.
Of the group’s average annual sales of Bt700 million a year, the school milk business contributes Bt300 million, Thanasarn said.