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Sala-Nong nuch garden SME
The Nation

Many Thai companies went bankrupt at the beginning of the financial crisis in 1997. But the crash, the baht, proved a boon to gazebo manufacturer Sala - Tanum Co., Ltd.

Gazebos are ornamental lawn and garden minimal shelter and maximum views of, ideally, pleasant surroundings. "The baht devaluation helped us to increase export competitiveness in terms of pricing," said Sala - Tanum founder Chanin Trisuriyatumma.

The company has managed to earn more from export income with orders from Japan and Europe in particular-since the economic downturn. Established in the crisis year itself, 1997, Sala - Tanum makes the structures, called sala in Thai, in various East - meets - West styles. Many hotels, high - rise buildings and housing estates around Bangkok and in the provinces have included Sala - Tanum gazebos in their plans.

The firm offers more than 10 knock - down wooden gazebo designs. Its prices start at Bt40,000 for a two - metre - diameter gazebo and go as high as Bt300,000 for four - metre - diameter ones, while the exported products are priced from Bt50,000.

All of the structures are roughly circular, and so sized by their diameters. They are made from tropical hardwood imported from neigh bouring countries, since the legislation on the destruction of hardwood forests.

The firm plans to roll out at least three new designs each year to suit customer's changing demands. Chanin declined to reveal sales - revenue figures but said the company had posted 20-per-cent sales growth last year.

Chanin, 34, took a bachelor's degree at Chulalongkorn University in 1989. He and a group of like-minded friends, all with backgrounds in architecture, got together after work back in 1992 and tried to create something simple but elegant. Eventually they came up with the idea of making and marketing Thai - style gazebos. The began by distributing brochures at housing estates, said Chanin

Sala-Meyer

"At first, we never thought that they would sell, but home-owners liked them because of their uniqueness and quality as garden furniture."

By 1997 his friends had left the project to pursue other business interests. But Chanin decided to persevere with gazebos. Through cost-cutting and savings from greater production prices that had formerly ranger from Bt70,000 to Bt80,000 were brought down to about Bt40,000. The company also offered free installation of the structures and reliable after sales service.

Sala-Cream

Chanin says his success can be attributed in part to the government's policy to help small and medium - sized enterprises.

The Department to Industrial Promotion assists with production techniques and encourages research and development to upgrade and differentiate Sala - Tanum's products.

To widen its export market, the firm has exhibited its products abroad, with the help of the Department of Export Promotion. "To succeed in a competitive world market, we can't stand still," Chanin says. "Only new design, quality products and good after - sales service can ensure customers' satisfaction."

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