AFG finds consensus on the future

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The Automotive Focus Group (AFG) held its May networking event at the Holiday Inn, Beach Rd, in the very aptly named “Workshop” area.

The format was an open panel discussion with Bryan Bowman (SCSI) South East Asia Regional Manager; Gilbreth Brown (Pentana Solutions) Sales Manager Asia Region, and Dr Chaiyant Savanachai, Executive Director of TEBA.  The moderator was Frank Holzer, Executive General Manager of MGH and President of the AFG.

The panel discussion topics for the evening, included:

The current issues being faced by companies in the Automotive sector;

Views on where the industry is heading in Thailand;

What should companies be doing to develop and grow under the current situation.

Bryan Bowman, Gilbreth Brown, and Dr Chaiyant Savanachai hold an open panel discussion at this month’s AFG meeting.Bryan Bowman, Gilbreth Brown, and Dr Chaiyant Savanachai hold an open panel discussion at this month’s AFG meeting.

Bryan Bowman began by affirming that many people were being laid off from the industry (which was confirmed by Richard Jackson who stated that the number of employees in the OEM’s were down) and suggested that the market is evolving.

Comparison was made between the Japanese automakers and the western OEM’s with Gil Brown providing the information that the Japanese were here early and introduced standardization.  It was also evident that they were supplying the market with cars that people want.  A long term view of the market was another factor employed by the Japanese.

Chaiyant gave the AFG members the history behind the auto industry in Thailand, going back 50 years, and highlighted some differences between the western OEM’s and the Japanese who relied on simple production processes.

The meeting went on to discuss the forthcoming ASEAN agreements, noting that Thailand had the infrastructure, but was lacking in the communication skills necessary to remain competitive at the manufacturing level.  A warning was given that “hardship” is coming.

For many, the English language was a stumbling block, as seen by Chaiyant (a Thai with perfect English)!  It was stated that right now, China is recruiting 500 TEFOL teachers this year to improve communications with the west.

Work ethic was brought up, and comparison between the local work force and China showed Thailand may have a problem correcting this.  Gil stated that senior management has to build their own culture within the plant.

Finally, Bryan said that companies here should eliminate “waste” to become competitive and efficient (and not hide this factor).

Contact can be made with the AFG through the president: email [email protected]