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Meet the Bangkok sons and daughters keeping their father's businesses alive
Ahead of Dec 5, we photograph the people doing what they can to save their age-old family businesses. 
 

By Monruedee Jansuttipan | Nov 30, 2016

  • Meet the Bangkok sons and daughters keeping their father's businesses alive

Ngoh Tailor

Jiraphon “Ngu” Jiraphonsakul, 36, and Jiraroj “Pro” Jiraphonsakul, 33, had no plans to take over their family’s 42-year-old tailor’s shop on Rama I Road until their father’s tragic murder during a robbery. But the brothers have now stood in to not only continue his legacy, but secure customers for the future, too.
 
 
 

What are your dad’s most important teachings?

Jiraphon: He always told us that we need to be honest to customers. Most of our clients have high brand loyalty as they have come to make suits here for generations. They say no matter who the tailor is, they will only come to Ngoh shop; they say our dad was a good person that they loved to talk and work with. 
 
Jiraroj: He would say it’s not just about being honest with customers, but ourselves too. If you think something isn’t good enough, don’t push it on customers. When you’re not honest with yourself, you slowly lose your self-respect. Even his death taught us the need to take responsibility. That led my brother to make the sacrifice of quitting his job to continue to take care of the business. 

66 Rama I Rd., 083-018-1808, 02-214-1311. www.fb.com/ngohtailor 


Udom Pochana

Titikarn Rungrojsuwan, 32, helps her father Suwan Rungrojsuwan, 67, carry out the business of this 80-year-old restaurant whose signature dishes of beef stew and roasted pork still draw in large crowds. She is the third generation to oversee operations.  
 
 
 

How is your dad a role model? 

He’s really diligent. He taught me how to do every job in the shop from cashier to dishwasher. We need to know the whole process so we can manage those who work for us. He’s nearly 70 years old, but he’s still doing the same things he did as a teenager. I think he will keep on like this forever. 

What are your dad’s most important teachings? 

You need to be patient, because no matter what you do, there will always be difficulties and hardships to overcome. Some days we can have very few customers, while other days we sell three times what we sold the day before. There are new shop owners who open for just three months then get disheartened by having few customers. He’s taught me to be adaptable as well as economical, as money isn’t easy to find these days.

78 Soi Phraeng Phuthon, Rattanakosin, 02-221-3042 


31 Thanwa and Bak Seng

Boonyanuch Vitayasamrit, 29, founded women’s leather handbag brand 31 Thanwa back in late 2011. She’s the third generation behind an 80-year-old shoe factory, Bak Seng, which her father, Pairoj Vitayasamrit, 64, takes care of. Now Boonyanuch is preparing to continue the factory’s legacy with a new line of shoes, Young Folk, which launches soon. 
 
 
 

How is your dad a role model? 

He learned everything from scratch. When my dad first started taking care of the family business, he didn’t know anything about making shoes. But he was determined to learn. He started practicing drawing every night. Now he’s the best shoemaker. It’s taught me that you don’t need to be good at everything from the beginning. Just be patient and one day you can be great. 

What are your dad’s most important teachings? 

He taught through actions rather than words. My two brothers and I absorbed his wisdom. He taught us that as siblings, we need to love each other no matter what. As he’s gotten older, we’ve stepped in to help take care of the factory. It’s like a support network. Both my brand and the original shoe factory allow us to focus on what we’re good at. I can design, my brothers can manage. We’re moving forward as a family. 

2/F, The Emporium, Sukhumvit Rd., 081-711-8031. BTS Phrom Phong. www.fb.com/31ThanwaShop


Prachak Pochana

Panisa Mahasimongkol, 37, is the fourth generation of this 106-year-old roasted duck specialist that still packs in the crowds daily. Now Panisa has stepped up to take the lead from her dad, Sanguan Mahasirimongkol, 71, who remains very much active at this legendary institution. 

How is your dad a role model? 

My father is really dutiful and always pays respect to his mother. If he’s not traveling somewhere, he never misses a chance to eat dinner with her. I didn’t understand this at first but now I realize it’s his way of showing how important she is to him. The way he treats her also reflects on how he governs others as they really respect him as a good leader and role model. 

What are your dad's most important teachings? 

He doesn’t like talking too much, but he leads by example with everything he does. Before we changed the way we work with suppliers, he would go to the market every day and pick all the ingredients himself. If you separate work from your daily life, you will be easily discouraged. But if you look at the work as part of your life, you will try to sustain it like it’s part of your family. You can find the solutions to all the problems

1415 Charoenkrung Rd., 02-234-3755


D.K. Bakery

Tanawat Phoocharoensil, 37, quits his career at Microsoft’s marketing and key account manager for the Asia-Pacific region to help his dad, Suppakij Pucharoensilp, 74, run the family business, the nearly-70-year-old D.K. Bakery on Silom Road. 

How do you see your dad as a role model? 

He started working before he was 10 years old. As a kid I would also help him, too. I learned quickly that it’s not easy running a bakery. Making delicious bread isn’t just about having the right formula and tools; it’s about experiences and what you learn along the way. It may be the same flour, but if you make a mistake, it won’t be the same bread that people have loved for nearly 70 years. My dad also treats my grandparents and extended family so well. I didn’t truly understand his love until I became a father myself. Now there are no words to capture all my feelings. 

What are your dad’s most important teachings? 

I really love his encouragement. He always told me to chase my dreams, no matter what. He never stopped me from doing anything. He just gave me advice. Kids these days might think they’re more educated but forget the value of life experience. Many new generations abandon their old family businesses. My whole life I’ve seen my dad work tirelessly for this bakery. I would always regret it if I stood by as he got old and lost the strength to carry out what he's loved all his life.
 
741 Silom Rd., 02-233-8352 

 

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