The company’s Director of Design, Teerachai Suppameteekulwat, explains how hard times created an opportunity for business renewal and innovation. He discusses the company’s changing fortunes and the central role that intellectual property (IP) plays in its business strategy.
Can you tell us about how Qualy emerged?
Our family business had been operating as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) since 1977 under the name Saint Louis Plas-Mold. We produced plastic parts for companies in multiple sectors. But tough pricing competition meant the company became less and less profitable. We fell on hard times and realized we had to change our business model. That is what prompted my brother, Thossaphol, and me to set up a subsidiary, the New Arriva Company, to launch the Qualy brand. I had gained a few years of practical experience as an industrial designer and my brother had just graduated from his marketing studies, so the time was ripe for us to build our own brand and to design and make products that matched our beliefs and our design thinking. We realized that if the company was to thrive, we needed to put innovation at the heart of our business strategy.
How did you come up with the name Qualy?
The name Qualy encapsulates our beliefs and values and our commitment to social, economic and environmental sustainability. It stands for:
Q – Quality: we design, finish and produce our products to a high quality;
U – Uniqueness: our products must stand out in the market;
A – Aesthetics: we ensure our products are tasteful, functional and decorative;
L – Long lasting: we place great emphasis on the sustainable use of our products; and
Y – You: our design priorities are driven by the needs and lifestyles of our customers.
We target consumers with a modern lifestyle who have an eye for innovative design.
What were the main challenges you faced in setting up Qualy?
We had zero experience in marketing and selling products in this sector, but we recognized the advantages of working closely with our customers to develop the products they want to buy. This approach also enabled us to apply our “out of the box” approach to product design. One of the big challenges we face in this respect is that customers always remember our products but not our brand. So building brand recognition is a key priority for us, and we are making progress in this area. Today, we are selling our products in more than 50 countries around the world, including in Asia, Europe...