The PCEC meeting program for Sunday, July 2, had two parts: the first was the PCEC’s Annual General Meeting (AGM). This was followed by Brad Walker who spoke about being an entrepreneur in Hawaii and in Thailand.
The first report provided a review of the club’s financial activities. Overall, the club is doing well, staying within its budget and maintaining a positive balance. Chairman Roy Albiston’s review of the club’s year-in-review emphasized the theme “Change”. Roy points out that the only constant in life is “Change” and that it is inevitable. However, most humans are predisposed to resist change, due to the associated risks.
Most of us are “creatures-of-habit since we have our favorite TV shows, music, restaurants, etc. We even tend to sit with the same people during our PCEC meetings. Many of the habits may have been handed down from our parents, or perhaps it is just that we don’t wish to exit our “comfort-zone”.
Some changes cause drawbacks and discomforts. For example, many Expats decide to uproot from their mother-country and move to foreign lands, such as Thailand. The move can be difficult logistically, emotionally and involves distancing ourselves from loved-ones. Everyone has their reasons and it may include a new lifestyle, better weather, lower cost-of-living, etc., but we make changes to hopefully, improve our lives. A part of this change involves our own Pattaya City Expats Club.
The Club has been in operation for over sixteen years, starting from humble beginnings in 2001. It continues to evolve into a highly respected social club, recognized by Pattaya City Hall, the governor of Chonburi, and the district officer of Banglamung. We do embrace technology with the advent of our Newsletter, YouTube, Facebook and web-site. However, the Club retains one constant, through-out its history, and that is our motto: “Expats-Helping-Expats”.
Roy went on to express gratitude for the many people that make the Club possible. Volunteers and PCEC Board Members were recognized for their tireless efforts. A special tribute was made to Lawrie McLaughlin, our past speaker coordinator. His efforts were legendary and his passing left a huge gap in our operations. May he R.I.P. However, another member has stepped forward to fill that gap and that is Ren Lexander.
Next on the agenda was a return-engagement by Brad Walker, a self-proclaimed cowboy, hippie, student radical, impresario, airplane pilot, surfer, golfer, sailor, ship captain, radio reporter, garment designer and manufacturer, importer, seminar instructor, teacher, song writer and world traveler, just to name a few of his endeavors.
Brad wrote a very popular book, primarily for Thai Farangs, called “Amazing Thailand-The Farang’s Guide to Good Living in the Land of Smiles”. He moved to Thailand in 2005, after many visits going back to 1988. He loves his life in Isan’s Surin Provence, specifically, Kedon Village. He built a large house there and erected a sign saying, “Welcome to Amazing Kedon Village”, which attracted a lot of positive attention by the locals. They then erected a sign, next to his, expressing the same sediment, except in the Thai language. Brad is not a retiree but continues to develop his work passion, garment design and manufacturing.
Brad lived in Hawaii for about thirty years and purchased the rights to the Kamehameha Garment Company label, which is one of the “Original” Aloha Shirt companies, dating back to 1936. He spoke about the up-and-downs of the garment industry and that the Aloha style garments run in an up-down cycle, just about every ten years. He re-obtained the label during what he believes is a down period and has hopes that it is soon to return upward again. He says to check back with him in a few months. Timing is everything. Another rule he has learned is that one shouldn’t bet the house, unless you have another house.
Brad talks about his motivation to entrepreneurship. He says he doesn’t like rules, having a boss, a set schedule, dress codes, etc. Therefore, he was left with just a couple of options, either be a bum or be an entrepreneur. He chose the latter because it had money attached. He has founded several enterprises, some successful, some not so successful, such as Brown Sugar Garments and Tiki Rooms To Go. He equates his experience to that of Thomas Edison, who said, “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work,” before discovering a practical way to provide an electric light bulb.
He has a companion company in Hawaii, which partnered with the Kenwood Corporation, to make garment/duffel bags, back-packs, wallets, t-shirts, etc. in support of the Kenwood Cup Hawaii International Offshore Yacht Race. This brought Brad to Thailand where he joined a friend that made the products for him. He married a Thai lady and never looked back. They eventually separated but he continued to raise a stepdaughter and has his former in-laws living with him.
Brad experienced a medical condition that involved open-heart surgery in Thailand which changed his life. He required a caretaker and his former wife agreed to provide help. Their relationship grew from that experience and they are living together as best friends.
He strongly believes that if one is going to a business in Thailand, the business entity must be based in your home country. However, the products can be made in Thailand and sold through the internet. He believes that the future and success, in terms of sales, will come from a well-constructed web-site.
After the presentation, MC Roy Albiston brought everyone up to date on upcoming events. This was followed by the “Open Forum” portion of the meeting, where questions are asked and answered and comments made about expat living in Thailand. For more information on the Club and their activities, visit www.pcec.club.
Member Ren Lexander interviewed Brad Walker after his presentation to the PCEC. To view a video visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obmsoe2n4Ek.