||Success Story Detail
Panasonic Celebrates 50 Years of Good Relations in Thailand
Deep thanks, strong optimism and quality products describe the Panasonic Group of Companies in Thailand. This year the group is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of Panasonic (Thailand) Co., Ltd. as the first overseas manufacturing company for Panasonic after the Second World War. A top foreign investor and employer in Thailand, Panasonic now runs a total of 22 companies here. This includes 12 manufacturing plants, five sales companies, and management, R&D, finance and insurance operations. The group employs about 18,000 people locally.
“We want to express our sincere appreciation to the Thai people for our continuing successful business here,” said Mr. Hirotaka Murakami, CEO of the Panasonic Group of Companies in Thailand. “Fifty years of business is proof that Thai consumers are loyal to the Panasonic brand and that the company contributes to local society.” The Japan-based parent firm Panasonic Corporation, established in 1918, is the world’s largest consumer electronics producer with annual revenue of about US$104 billion. Panasonic’s three biggest production lines in Thailand are TVs and PDP modules, car audio and visual products including auto electronic devices, and home appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines and cooking equipment. The company’s many local plants also manufacture a wide range of other products, from batteries and air-moving equipment to electrical construction materials to hair dryers and beauty products.
Incentives granted by the Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) have been a major reason behind Panasonic’s decisions to continue investing in the country over the years. Other factors important in choosing Thailand as an investment location include its location at the heart of Asia, excellent production infrastructure, and affordable quality workforce.
“Logistics-wise, Thailand is a good operating base for us due to being the center of the Indochinese peninsula. Here we have quick access to export markets in surrounding countries,” Murakami said. About 80% of the company’s output in Thailand is for export.
Panasonic’s relationship with Thailand is enhanced by a mutual feeling of warmth and fellowship. “I can see many similarities between the Thai and Japanese people. Communication with each other is easy and Thais appreciate our company’s way of management,” he noted.
Pointing back to the parent firm’s founding principles, Murakami emphasized that today Panasonic’s operational philosophy remains “contribution to society” and “people before products.” Panasonic looks at business from the long-term perspective and not strictly for short-term profit.
“Panasonic strives to contribute to the education and development of its employees. I think the Thai people appreciate this. Perhaps it is a religious connection in a way, as most Thais and Japanese have a Buddhist mindset with emphasis on family values,” Murakami said.
Ms. Kesorn Wangwongwiroj, deputy director of Human Resources and Planning at Panasonic Management (Thailand) Co., Ltd., the country headquarters, elaborated on that from a work standpoint. “Thais are diligent and they adapt well, being open to new things. It is easy for Thais and Japanese to work together,” she said.
Decade after decade, Panasonic has seen Thailand become more prosperous with the local economy growing steadily. The company’s products have helped to make daily life more comfortable and convenient. Air conditioners are a prime example. Once beyond the reach of most citizens in Thailand, they are practically a necessity of modern living now. Even so, Murakami said penetration rates show there is still room for substantial sales growth in the product categories that the company offers domestically.
The work done at Panasonic’s R&D facility in Thailand focuses intently on the domestic market. This is especially the case for home appliances. Whereas A/V products are mostly standardized globally, in home appliances each country has different tastes based on lifestyle. Rice cookers, thermo pots, refrigerators and washing machines are typically localized products.
Panasonic’s facilities in Japan develop most of the core technologies of the products, which are then adapted in Thailand to suit local market needs. Virtually all of the product development team at the Thailand R&D facility consists of Thai engineers. The department carries out R&D for home appliances, and for other key areas such as automotive multimedia devices and systems. Besides conducting R&D locally, Panasonic also purchases a significant amount of materials in the country. “Thailand’s infrastructure is well established. A lot of suppliers have already shifted their production here,” Murakami said.
Enthusiastic about BOI Fair 2011
Murakami revealed that the Panasonic Group of Companies in Thailand has big plans for showing its gratitude to Thai society at the group’s huge pavilion for BOI Fair 2011. Running from 10-25 November, the fair in Bangkok will be part of nationwide celebrations marking the auspicious occasion of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 84th birthday. One of the biggest international exhibitions in Southeast Asia, BOI Fair 2011 will showcase Thailand’s industrial capacity, modern technology and knack for innovation. The event’s “Going Green for the Future” theme emphasizes environment-friendly manufacturing.
At a whopping 2,000sqm, Panasonic’s impressive pavilion will be the largest of all electronics industry companies at the fair. “Our appreciation of Thailand and our respect for the King is the reason we secured such a big space and planned so many activities for BOI Fair 2011,” Murakami noted.
In the expansive pavilion, which is leaf-shaped and made of recyclable materials, Panasonic will exhibit its products and eco- friendly processes. As part of the company’s 50-year anniversary celebration, there will also be a special gallery of antique items, including a TV, radio, rice cooker, iron and fan that are decades- old.
Leader in Industry and Society
Social care and concern for the environment are core values for Panasonic. Through ambitious campaigns such as Panasonic Corporate Citizenship and Panasonic Thailand Dynamism, the company is very active in giving back to the local community. Contributing to enriched education, each year Panasonic has been providing scholarships to three Thai graduates in engineering, electronics and information technology for master’s degree study in Japan. The scholarship program was expanded to four recipients this year in recognition of the company’s 50th anniversary in Thailand. Under other CSR activities, Panasonic donates educational materials to schools at rural areas and conducts training workshops.
Besides helping Thai people improve their livelihood, the company also works to protect Thailand’s natural environment. It engages in tree planting and marine conservation projects. In addition, schoolchildren are invited to the showrooms and factories to learn about recycling, saving energy, and Panasonic’s measures in minimizing electronic waste.
Corporate headquarters in Japan has decreed that Panasonic should become the No. 1 “green innovation” company in the electronics industry by 2018, a milestone achievement for the enterprise’s 100-year anniversary. The goal is for each Panasonic product to be energy-saving, every factory to have zero waste and carbon dioxide emission, and all employees to become eco- conscious by that year.
Ever strengthening its global leadership position, Panasonic continues to expand in the industry. Asia remains a big part of the company’s plans. “The Asia region is one of the fastest-growing markets in the world. We are definitely looking to grow our business in Thailand and other areas in Asia,” Murakami said.
In a major expansion measure, Panasonic in 2009 acquired Japan’s SANYO Electric Co., gaining access to that well- known brand’s advanced solar panel and rechargeable battery technologies and other products. The move solidifies Panasonic’s role as the world’s consumer electronics frontrunner.