By Tom Stray, General Manager of the Dentalife Australia group, PharmaDesign
After growing a medical device manufacturing business in Australia for 15 years we decided it was time to expand to take on a more global challenge for our company. We knew we had quality products and there was a space in the market for us but with the growing cost of manufacturing in Australia as well as obvious logistical constraints, exporting was becoming very difficult for our products.
ASIA was the area we wanted to target first and because of some quality contacts in our industry that were based in Thailand as well as plenty of research into new business systems, Bangkok was the place to take the leap. Fortunately to date we have not regretted this decision.
We had a clear plan of how our company was to look and how it was going to be run. This has since been just about turned upside down, which has been to our benefit. We have found an enormous opportunity in leveraging knowledge from multiple manufacturing industries. This is something that is more difficult to do in Australia due simply to the lack of manufacturing. It took us 2 years to work out how best to utilize this, but after some trial and error we now have a team of staff that have come from many industries that are telling us what to do. It has been fantastic and allowed us to get back to doing what we went to Thailand for, to access a more global market. We have many mountains to climb yet but our company’s problem solving ability has increased enormously due to our staffs many different experiences and skills. We have also been able to implement some of these experiences and expertise back to our Australian facility. This ability now to implement a much broader skill set than we originally set out to acquire has opened up many more opportunities.
Thailand, in our industry in particular, is seen as such an important market. It is becoming a leader for the ASEAN region in demand for quality products and also expectation for quality standards. For us to have a facility here has allowed us to see first hand how that looks and allowed us to tailor products for this region rather that expect the region to just accept our products. This has given us a point of difference in the market and a base to launch our brand. It has been so important for us to understand this and is now a real opportunity for us as we can still be very flexible at this stage of our growth.
On a more personal level I have enjoyed the challenge of adapting to a very different working environment and feel very privileged to be able to work with our team in Thailand who have taught me a great deal and continue to push us towards excellence.
Tom Stray is the current General Manager of the Dentalife Australia group, which includes their Thailand operation, PharmaDesign. PharmaDesign is their ASEAN manufacturing base that is in it’s forth year of operation. Tom has been part of Dentalife for the past 13 years being GM of the Dentalife Group for the last five years and is overseeing the transition into the ASEAN market. Tom has a background in professional sport and has made a smooth transition into the Business world using his experience in team dynamics, leadership and hard work. He is focused on building excellent and talented teams within the organization.