Thai SME Tanakul Workgroup pivots to flexible, connected work to stay ahead of the unprecedented challenges

Thailand’s small and medium enterprises have had to leapfrog into advanced connectivity solutions due to the unprecedented challenges of 2020. Without the IT teams or budgets of large enterprises, they must keep their employees and customers safely connected, collaborate in the cloud and maintain uninterrupted digital lines of communication. One such company is Tanakul Workgroup, specializing in custom signage and exhibition space design. Their work requires holding to tight deadlines and working across multiple locations.

“Due to short deadlines, a large part of our work is carried out at night. For some projects we even have to build a temporary office at the site. There is a constant need for round-the-clock mobile connectivity between our team members, in order to share large files or conduct video conferences,” said Sermsak Sripongtanakul, Managing Director of Tanakul Workgroup.

Innovation Leadership

Founded in a small shophouse in 1944, Tanakul Workgroup currently includes four companies and 360 employees split between fieldwork and a 12,800 sqm. factory located on Rama II Rd. The group, which is managed by the Sripongtanakul brothers, provides a one-stop service in product display, event and exhibition design, interior design, and custom-built signage. You can spot their work in the signs at Toyota dealers nationwide and the upcoming Bang Sue Grand Station, as well as exhibition installations at Bangkok International Motor Show and the interiors of the Hilton Pattaya Hotel.

“I still remember our first project, screen printing on cassette shells. We bought a personal computer and a laser printer worth 40,000 baht, which we paid in installments,” said Mr. Sermsak. “Then my brothers started bringing in larger projects and clients from overseas”

Over two decades, Tanakul Workgroup continues to invest in new technologies and innovations, from developing its own business management software to laser and waterjet cutters worth tens of millions of baht. It is also a distributor of home elevator brand from Sweden, Artico, whose cutting-edge design won the company the Red Dot Design Award. Tanakul Workgroup never stop exploring new business opportunities, allowing it to pivot challenges faced by many industries in the new normal.

“Our contract jobs went down during the lockdown, but many clients showed keen interest in home elevators as more people stayed home. We therefore reassigned some of our employees whose time was freed up because of COVID-19 to do elevator installations,” said him. “With this, our employees continued to earn income despite of the lockdown.”

Growing Sustainably

While Mr. Sermsak was giving the dtac blog team a tour around his three-story factory, he pointed out there were many manufacturing leftovers, which got upcycled into plant pots, office chairs, roof tiles, and so on. “We have a lot of discarded materials, and most of them can’t be recycled, so we turn them into something useful,” explained him.

In terms of career development, trainings are frequently organized to equip its 350 employees with essential skills. These combined keep the company alive and thriving even in time of crisis.

“In our early years, we wanted to be number one in signages, but now it’s all about maintaining high standards and quality,” said Mr. Sermsak. “It’s important to never stop improving oneself and to demonstrate adaptability and flexibility at work. We have promoted a few site foremen who were former messengers. We need to also show employees care and respect.”

Staying Connected with dtac Business

Tanakul Workgroup continually invests in new technologies and innovations, from developing its own business management software to laser and waterjet cutters worth tens of millions of baht. Connectivity, too, is a critical part of operations. Installation work is often carried out at a construction site or a mall at night, and team members need to constantly communicate to keep everyone updated on progress, ensure smooth operations, and ask for support in case of emergency. This has been even more critical due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

“Mobile connectivity allows us to stay connected in any situation. Most of our employees use smartphones to work, including me. Since the lockdown, we have been using Microsoft Teams and Zoom for meetings with clients. And we are moving to the cloud as it is more stable,” stated Mr. Sermsak.

In response to customers like Mr. Sermsak, dtac developed its WorryFree solutions. Thanat Manunyapatr, VP Head of Sales & Channel Performance Department at dtac Business, said, “In the past few months, cost control and operational efficiency became critical for many organizations. dtac Business WorryFree solutions enable employees to use smartphones to communicate at work, hold online meetings with clients, and send high-resolution working files. Aside from the 24-hour unlimited call package, dtac Business also offers automatic data upgrades to support large file transfers on mobile devices. It provides convenience and efficiency for the digital new normal.”

While smooth connectivity is critical, Mr. Sermsak does stress that pricing too is an important factor: “Before our employee mobile plans were poorly managed. We even had employees who had resigned, but we kept paying for their numbers. We were also unaware of the newer and better plans on offer. We no longer face these issues since we have moved to dtac Business. The solutions are very cost-efficient, with unlimited speed internet and automatic plan upgrades without paying extra, making us truly worry-free.” said Mr. Sermsak.