Let me seize this opportunity to congratulate Orchid Palm Homes in Hua Hin who won the Best Residential Development (Hua Hin) Award from Thailand Property Awards 2013. It is the developer Mr. Stephen Ayling to the left.
Actually this is their 2nd win in a row, quite impressive!
But who are they? Who is behind this successful company?
I had the opportunity to interview the Sales and Marketing Manager, Mr. Grahame Beecham.
Unfortunately the developer himself, Mr. Stephen Ayling was not able to attend the interview, but Mr. Beecham ensured me that he could speak on behalf of Mr. Ayling.
So here we go:
“Both Mr. Stephen Ayling (Steve) and I Grahame are British.”
How long time have you lived in Thailand and Hua Hin? And how did you end up in Thailand in the first place?
“Steve lived here 9 years and I lived here for 7 years.
Steve was married to a Thai lady although divorced around 6 years ago and returned to Thailand to build houses.”
How, when and why did you end up in the Thai development industry?
“Steve has been a builder since he was 16 years old and worked all over Europe, when he saw the quality of what was available for foreigners to buy in Thailand he decided to come here and build houses finished to European standards.”
Did you have any aim of being awarded with any property awards when you started up as a developer, or was is a surprise to you?
“When I joined the company just over 3 years to do the sales and marketing in my opinion Orchid Palm Homes was the best kept secret in Hua Hin.
Steve had a fantastic product built and finished to European standards and my opinion he should have been shouting from the rooftops, but he was too busy building houses to also sell them, so when we were nominated for the Thailand Property Awards it was no surprise to me that we won in 2012 and again in 2013.
We have had a lot of local developments trying to copy what we are doing but they are not professional builders and you need a professional builder to consistently build to these standards.”
What is, in your opinion, the most difficult task(s) and pothole(s) when starting up as a developer in Thailand?
“Local regulations and finding out how to get things done!
Dealing with contractors and making sure that high standards are maintained. Steve has to check builds at least two times every day to check the work being done to the correct standard and then correct them without shouting etc. as the workers will lose face and walk off site.”
What is your aim for the future?
“To continue to build high quality properties, to continually improve designs and standards where possible and to keep ahead of the competition, let them chase us.”
How do you see the Thailand development industry in the future, let’s say in the coming 5 years, also taking the ASEAN community into account?
“Improvements of infrastructure and availability of products will be the major changes.
5 years ago Thailand was 10 years behind Europe with items available now I believe they are one year behind.
With import duties being so high imported goods are so expensive and alternative items built in Thailand have many quality issues.
With ASEAN and the dropping of many trade barriers hopefully good quality items will be available at a more realistic price.
Generally I see standards improving in the future; people no longer accept “well its Thailand” and “look how cheap it is”. European standard is available and people are starting to expect it.”
Concerning the future of Thailand, do you ever think Thaksin will return to Thailand? And if he does, is this a good thing? How would this eventually affect the construction industry?
“I think Thaksin will find a way to return to Thailand, he may have to except that he cannot be the front man in a government but if reports are to be believed he has that role now already anyway.
Many people think that he wasn’t bad for Thailand and generated good business opportunities and Thai’s are great survivors and work around whatever party is in power.
If the corruption claims are true then it’s not good as it gives every walk of life below him the impression that it is an acceptable practice.”
Concerning the unrest in Southern Thailand, do you believe this affects the Thai tourism industry?
“Many countries have areas of unrest and Thailand is no different.
Due to the location in the far south I don’t think it will affect tourism to any great degree and Thai’s tend to fight with Thai’s and leave foreigners alone.
The red shirt vs the yellow shirt situation I think is a bigger concern due to it being mostly in Bangkok but again it is all about Thais fighting Thais.
Thailand continually seems to shoot itself in the foot but the tourists keep coming back as they love Thailand.”
You can view Orchid Palm Homes here.