Swedish Eric Johansson is 45 years old. He moved to Thailand all by himself in 1992 to try his luck as an independent businessman. Now he has a wife and a daughter here, and he calls Thailand his home. He has several businesses running already, and he has several new ideas on the drawing board for the coming years.
In love with Thailand
Eric ended up in Thailand by a bit of a coincidence. Back in the early 90s he was working in Australia. On his way back to Malmö, where Eric was born and raised, he made a brief stop in Thailand, and he was instantly crazy about the country.
“I was crazy about Thailand right away and I could see so many opportunities here that I just had to stay,” Eric Johansson says, and he wasted no time. With his educations from Sweden as a carpenter and a concrete specialist he began his new life:
“I started the business right away. I went from door to door, offering help with renovations in people’s houses. I painted the walls and restored people’s houses, while they were home in for instance Scandinavia. When they came back, everything was shining, and the business grew quickly.”
Today, 17 years later, Eric has more than 250 employees in his three companies, and says in great confidence:
“Yes, 250 today, but soon it will be 300. It is pointless being like anyone else, and I am not scared of saying what my goals are: Starting business, making money, and getting satisfied customers.”
The three companies are covering different parts of the same industry. Europe Low Energy House Co. Ltd. (ELEH) was founded more than 10 years ago. ELEH is today behind the construction of houses and resorts in Pattaya, Krabi, and Hua Hin, and Eric is lurking on soon to move into the market in Bangkok.
The company Nam-tech Co. Ltd. was founded five years ago, and operates with floor drains and water proofing systems to both older and new houses, and in addition to that, Eric is now going to start up a large building centre in Hua Hin, named Maxi Building Centre. Here, both private customers and companies are to buy quality items for their houses. The items can be anything from IKEA kitchens and air conditioning installations to swimming pools and new floors.
New house: 45 days
Eric’s first customers, when he started up in Thailand, came in house by word of mouth. Satisfied customers told it on to their friends, and that is still how it works for a great deal of the customers:
“About 60 percent of my customers today are either former clients or friends of satisfied customers who have been recommended to buy a house from us,” says Eric, who is obviously proud of his reputation. He continues:
“Our business is not necessarily the cheapest. We are more or less like all the others when it comes to the prices. But it is my goal that our customers have a very fair deal. They should know that there can be no such thing as a 100 percent quality on anything in this country, but in return they can trust us, and we are extremely fast,” Eric says.
He mentions that when a customer orders a house constructed by ELEH, it only takes 45 days before the elements of the house is on the soil, and then only a further 45 days before the house is ready to move into. The steel is by the way imported from Sweden.
“It is very easy to get construction work done here, but it is much harder to get a good result,” he concludes.
Eric Johansson reveals that he will in the future concentrate on repeating the successes of the Thai construction industry in Cambodia. They are just not quite ready for it yet in his opinion:
“Cambodia are years behind Thailand in all areas, but I am sure that it is their turn for five or maybe up to 10 years. And then I am ready to play along,” Eric Johansson confidently emphasizes.