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Over the past 56 years, Mariwasa Siam Ceramics has firmly established itself as the leader in tile manufacturing. And while there have clearly been many factors that have contributed to the formulation of this reputation – from the exceptional quality of products to its constant quest for innovation – the company’s President, Jakkrit Suwansilp, believes that the number one factor that has set it apart from its competitors is “our people”.
As well as attracting the right talent and then ensuring retention rates are high, Jakkrit says Mariwasa unites employees through a common goal: to make the best ceramic tiles in the Philippines.
“We practise a mindset that we call ‘4C culture’,” he tells The CEO Magazine. “A common goal, collaboration, communication and commitment, which have become part of our DNA now. We’re also encouraging our people to think of this business as entrepreneurship, as well as being customer-centric.
“Mariwasa belongs to everyone that works here – they’re not only employees and they know that. I’m really proud of that because it showcases how we are not only focused on investing in the business itself, but also investing in the people who make it possible.”
The bottom line? “We work like a family. We share and we care,” he says.
“We work like a family. We share and we care.”
This same mentality permeates into other divisions of the company as well, particularly when it comes to how it approaches relationships with suppliers. “When we work with stakeholders, we approach it as a win–win situation,” Jakkrit explains. “It is mutually beneficial, where both parties gain – not just ‘we win, you lose’. Because otherwise, in the future, no-one would want to supply to Mariwasa, whereas currently most of our suppliers have already been with us for more than 20–30 years.”
Today, he has been with that family for 12 years, taking on the role of President in 2019. Due to extensive experience with the company, when he took the reins, Jakkrit already had a clear vision for how he wanted the business to evolve.
“I saw a lot of opportunities to improve and upgrade the Mariwasa facility, especially in terms of the manufacturing processes,” he recalls. “When I worked with the factory there, I realised that there was a lot of waste, a lot of inefficiencies.
“My background is actually in sales and marketing, not engineering, which means that I can think out of the box, from an outside perspective. When I stepped in, I said, ‘Now it’s time to upgrade our machines and upgrade our facility.’”
In addition, Jakkrit looked at ways Mariwasa could be more energy and environmentally conscious – from utilising automation to integrating solar power. “We want to be self-sufficient as well as sustainable,” he points out.
“We’re moving towards creating in-depth environmental social responsibility and governance throughout the business. We want to make sure we are good citizens and do good within the community, always focusing on the environmental aspect, moving towards green energy and lower energy consumption.”
For Mariwasa, this emphasis on social responsibility has seen it support local relief endeavours, such as donating nearly US$20,000 to aid efforts after a recent typhoon, providing ongoing support to local schools and lending a hand in the local community during the pandemic.
Jakkrit is also focused on expanding Mariwasa’s offerings in order to cater to the changing needs and wants of customers. “I’ve been reviewing the product portfolio and mix to ensure it’s not outdated,” he says.
“More people are looking for bigger tiles, so we want to serve the market through our affiliate companies. We also want to be the trendsetter so we continue to innovate by introducing anti-slip, safety and hygienic tiles.”
“We are going to become a total solution provider for end users.”
Looking to the next chapter, Mariwasa is continuing its transformation from purely manufacturing to include service solutions and ultimately become a decorative surfaces and bathroom solutions business.
“We are going to become a total solution provider for end users,” Jakkrit reveals. “Besides that, we’re also adding what we call the service solution for installation services. So now, when the customer comes and buys Mariwasa products, they’re worry-free because we also offer them service and after-sales solutions.”
That way, Jakkrit enthuses, when customers choose Mariwasa, they can know for certain that they’ll have assistance and a quality assurance every single step of the way.