Over recent days there has been a barrage of news about the sandwich-making activities of former commercial high-flyer Sirivat Voravetvuthikun. Voice of America reports that:
The 57-year old entrepreneur made a fortune in stocks but when the Asian stock market collapsed in 1997, so did his investments, leaving Voravetvuthikun $30.4 million in debt.
“So my life was totally changed from a luxurious lifestyle to just a commoner lifestyle.”
According to Channel News Asia:
One man who is applying [the] principle of prudent expansion is Sirivat Voravetvuthikun, popularly known as the “Sandwich Man”. This once-wealthy entrepreneur lost his fortune in 1997. To survive, he turned to selling sandwiches at busy Bangkok intersections. He has since expanded his business to two small coffee shops, without borrowing money.
Having seen both good and bad times, he predicts tough times ahead from the increased regional competition.
Mr Voravetvuthikun said: “I think Thai people have not learned and they are not prepared this time. I think this economic bust will be bigger than the one in 1997. Ten years ago, Vietnam was nothing compared to Thailand. But today, everyone is talking about Vietnam, the next tiger, not Thailand.”
But taking to heart the lessons he has learnt from the crisis, Sirivat is looking forward to listing his company on the stock exchange in two years.
More on Sirivat’s efforts to deploy the “sufficiency economy” framework in his expanding sandwich empire is available from his company’s website. “Sufficiency sandwiches” have, some readers may remember, been featured in the past here on New Mandala but until today we hadn’t drawn reader attention to the expansionist sufficiency framework practiced by Sirivat.
According to The Nation:
The lessons of the crisis taught him the meaning of sufficiency, sustainability and patience. Sirivat patiently makes an effort to ensure that his business will be sustainable…Sirivat’s goal is simple and ambitious: “If McDonald’s aims to sell to just 1 per cent of the world’s 6 billion people, then I want to sell to just 1 per cent of Thailand’s 65 million,” he said.
This is one “sufficiency” ambition that is certainly worth watching. The next time New Mandala is in the neighbourhood of his outlets we will be sure to drop-in for one of his specials. To my eye, the “Pita Hotdog” looks pretty good!