It is pretty obvious that to be successful in sourcing raw materials one has to travel to the source viewing the material and meeting suppliers. Seems logic but how many of you travelled abroad last year?
Travelling outside Southeast Asia is time consuming and costly. My colleagues and I made over twenty-five trips covering at least thirty-five different countries in 2017 alone. That’s a lot of mileage and can only be justified if one obtains valuable information during such travels.
Some people find it really hard to step in a plane, travel by road and end up in countries with a different time zone, cultures and food. The reason of travel can be different so let’s have a closer look at some of the reasons why my colleagues and I travelled so much last year.
Visiting forest allows one to gain first-hand information about the local forestry conditions, national standards, legality, domestic transport facilities, etc. Forest are the starting point of all our raw wood material so it helps a lot understanding what challenges foresters face harvesting the logs.
This one is pretty obvious, by visiting mills you will learn more about the owners, the people running the operations, general house-keeping, the type of equipment they use (modern or outdated) and even their administrative capabilities (using the latest IT tools or not).
We strongly believe in developing friendships not just with the owners but the people who do all the day-to-day work; it is them who will have the most control about the products ending up in our markets.
Attending conventions are great events for meeting lots of people within a very short time-frame from specific industry segments. Many conventions have a more social atmosphere unlike exhibitions where business is driven factor. This allows you to speak more freely with others, share ideas, obtain market information and even make new business connections. We do attend a few conventions across the globe each year.
These are very important to meet existing and potential buyers and suppliers but moreover allows one to learn more about product and market trends. For example; what are today’s most favourable designs, wood species, surface treatments and staining colours. Visiting exhibitions worldwide helps us selecting the best raw materials and solutions for tomorrow’s demand in South East Asia.
In conclusion, there is lots of value in travelling and the most important gain is widening your knowledge about our industry. It certainly will help adapting your company’s strategies strengthening your future position so I recommend that you spend more time visiting any of the above.