Renewable Energy Producer Gunkul Dhumrongpiyawut Returns To The List Of Thailand’s 50 Richest Recharged By A New Business

ByElizabeth J. Bohn

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This story is portion of Forbes’ protection of Thailand’s Richest 2022. See the full listing here.

Thailand has turn into the 1st Asian country to decriminalize non-leisure use of cannabis. Among the the 1st movers in this enterprise is Gunkul Engineering, one particular of the country’s most significant renewable strength producers. The company has earmarked an financial investment of 2 billion baht ($57 million) for cultivation and output of health care-quality hashish that can also be used in cosmetics and foods products. To kickstart the undertaking, Gunkul Engineering has teamed up with the Charoen Pokphand Group, owned by the Chearavanont brothers, to develop hemp seeds strains and cannabidiol-infused food items and beverage goods.

These moves have built buyers bullish on the company’s prospective buyers. Its shares rose 8% in the previous 12 months, returning its founder and chairman Gunkul Dhumrongpiyawut to the ranks of the country’s 50 richest following a 4-year hiatus with a internet really worth of $765 million.

Seated in the 8th flooring boardroom of the company’s company headquarters at Pearl Bangkok, an office tower that appears quite similar to The Gherkin in London, chairman Gunkul calls this new organization “the prospect of the 10 years.” He’s flanked by his spouse Sopacha Dhumrongpiyawut and the company’s CEO, Somboon Aueatchasai, who together run the working day-to-working day functions. (His daughter Naruechon is the company’s chief working officer.)

The firm will be employing the land close to its windfarms for the job. “Land is a byproduct of our wind electrical power enterprise,” suggests Gunkul, who expects hemp to deliver $50 million in income by following yr. Sopacha adds that hunting for new opportunities is aspect of her husband’s DNA, but he starts off a new enterprise only when he’s “90% assured of success.”

Gunkul built his business from scratch. The fifth of seven children, his father owned a compact store promoting construction products in Bangkok. Even though his siblings had been diligent, Gunkul states he was by no means significantly of a scholar and dropped out of college as a teenager to get the job done at his father’s store. At age 18, he approached the city’s electric power authority supplying to supply machines. But his company acquired going only a ten years later on in 1982, when he set up his corporation.

In 1992, he took a lender bank loan of 2 million baht and bought into manufacturing to acquire edge of a government coverage presenting a 14% rate high quality for domestically generated gear. Location up his initially manufacturing facility was arduous and led to “many sleepless nights,” he recollects. It was challenging to obtain the appropriate persons and some employees left to start a rival company.

Gunkul’s expansion into renewable strength arrived about when he secured a contract from the Electrical energy Making Authority of Thailand in 2007 to install a wind turbine. “I understood this could be a good organization that could commence offering returns rapidly,” he clarifies. The organization got into photo voltaic adopted by wind, securing a raft of corporate clients these as Charoen Pokphand Food items, element of the CP Group.

Just about a ten years ago, Gunkul Engineering began to expand overseas with renewable energy assignments in Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam. The organization has due to the fact bought two of its 4 initiatives in Japan, and Gunkul suggests for now his primary target is on the domestic market place. Keen to scale up its present capability of 642 megawatts, Gunkul Engineering in Might shaped a joint undertaking with a subsidiary of billionaire Sarath Ratanavadi’s Gulf Vitality Growth. This aims to insert 1,000 megawatts in excess of the subsequent 5 a long time.

The forthcoming expansions are expected to arrest a latest earnings slide. First-quarter web profit fell 17% to 505 million baht while revenue stayed flat at 2.3 billion baht, subsequent total-calendar year declines of 35% and 10%, respectively, in 2021. Suwat Sinsadok, head of study at FSS Global Expense Advisory Securities, expects internet income and earnings to soar 73% to 3.8 billion baht and 32% to 12.3 billion baht, respectively, in 2022 and predicts good yearly boosts by way of 2024.

Gunkul, who grows durian at his farm close to the seaside vacation resort city of Hua Hin—and who is also a major wine connoisseur with a selection that he stores in Hong Kong—is confident the firm can develop profits by 50% in excess of the future 5 several years, “I’m by now looking for the future chance.”

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