In 1986 a young Praphan Yentharua joined Volvo family as a sales consultant in Bangkok. 24 years later he is still in business and a very well-known person within the Volvo community. He started as a sales consultant and worked his way up to the top. The passion for the Swedish car brand has still remained even though his title has changed to Automotive Director of Volvo Operation.
“When I started in the company, the brand was not quite popular here yet but I have watched it grow to become what it is today,” he says.
He works for Wearnes Automotive which is a Singaporean company, registered in Thailand under the name Rank P.T. O’Conner’s Co. Ltd. They are car dealers for Volvo in Thailand and actually the biggest Volvo Dealership in Southeast Asia. Praphan is Director of the offices and showrooms in Huamark in the same building as the big Volvo showroom, Ladprao and the newest one in the Lumpini-area with more than 100 employees in total.
“We just opened the new service center in Lumpini on Rama IV just opposite the Lumpini Boxing Stadium. We have many customers there and it is a popular area. It is both a customer service repair and a showroom where you can get your Volvo repaired,” Praphan says.
Passion for cars
Praphan is a modest man who doesn’t want to talk about his own achievements for Volvo, for example when he has won as the best sales consultant in South East Asia four years in a row. But no doubt about the fact that he is proud of working for the Volvo family.
“After 24 years in the business my nickname is Praphan Volvo,” he says and smiles. Cars have always been a big passion of his.
“From high school have I studied and specialized in cars. I have always preferred cars for transportation, like for example road trips,” he says.
For him Volvo was a natural choice.
“I joined the Volvo family because I loved the Swedish car even though it was not known in Thailand back then. But then and now the Volvo equals quality, no compromises regarding safety and environmental care combined with good design,” Praphan tells. As a part of his job he has been to Gothenburg numerous times for dealer conferences and training. He finds the Thai and Scandinavian culture quite similar.
“Compared to other European cultures I think we have more in common with the Scandinavian culture. We work hard, but like to enjoy freedom and life like you. Our working style is more Scandinavian and the Scandinavians love our country,” says Praphan.
Will grow together
As the only company in Thailand, Wearnes Automotive also provides international sales and duty free Volvos for embassies and international organisations. So, even though it is no secret that times are tough at the moment, Praphan stays positive regarding the future. He is convinced that Wearnes Automotive and Volvo will grow together.
“It is hard times for premium brands and sales has gone down everywhere. However, I see it as an opportunity to expand and grow the Volvo business. We are hiring 20 more employees now that we have the new outlet on Lumpini to serve more customers.”
The Volvo buyers in Thailand consist of around 20 percent foreigners and 80 percent Thais, typically business people. However, with the latest models, Volvo hopes to target the young families too.
“The first one is S40 for young executives. The other one is V50, a station wagon, perfect for families. Combined with reasonable price at 1,799,000 Thai baht the Volvo quality and models, we are ready to target the younger group. We expect much from the future,” Praphan says.
Info and Contact:
Address: 1527 Sukhumvit 71 Road, Suanluang, Bangkok 10250