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EXECUTIVE Q&A: ADDED VALUE AND ETHICAL PRACTICES UNDERPIN PROJECT PLANNING

BackAugust 28, 2015

SHAREINVESTOR

Mr Phongthon says the weak economy and lack of transparency remain risks.

Project Planning Service Plc (PPS), which has been listed on the Market for Alternative Investment since September 2012, is a major engineering professional services firm. Phongthon Tharachai, deputy managing director, discusses the company's strategy and outlook.

What is PPS's business model?

We offer a comprehensive range of project consultancy services that includes management and construction supervision of construction work such as buildings and infrastructure, structural and architectural work, civil work, utility systems, landscape, interior decoration and others. We have executed more than 200 domestic and cross-border projects for both public and private-sector clients. The former include the Bank of Thailand and Suvarnabhumi airport (phase one), and the latter include the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok, CentralWorld and Central Embassy, Makro and Tesco Lotus stores.

Who are PPS's target customers?

We are able to service a wide variety of customers and projects in the retail, residential, healthcare, education, hospitality, industrial, office and public infrastructure fields. Because PPS has been in this business for 28 years we have been able to gain the trust of our customers, which is why we have very high repeat business from these groups.

What is PPS's value proposition to its clients?

Our role as a project manager is to ensure that the budget, quality and timing are within the customers' expectations. The knowledge that we provide to our clients is intangible and difficult to prove until after a project is completed and then clients realise the value that we provide. Also, given that our services typically represent only 1-2% of project value, it is a very small price for project owners to pay in order to alleviate the stress and complexities that come with managing a project.

We have also grown beyond merely offering engineering advice and construction management, and through our subsidiaries and investments in other businesses we can offer other services. For example, PPS Design Co Ltd offers services in structural design and system building work. Swan & Maclaren (Thailand), specialising in architectural and interior design, is a joint venture with Swan & Maclaren LLP, one of the oldest architectural design firms in Singapore. PPS Information Consultant Co Ltd offers services in information technology, in particular media and advertising, and has created its own programme to facilitate construction supervision.

Could you provide an example of how your technology has improved a customer's project?

We developed Project Live, which is a web-based technology that operates on any platform. One of the key benefits is that we are able to put everything online and can track any defects in a project via the images and can compare beforeand-after photos in real time. This is positive for condominium developers as it provides confirmation to the buyer that any issues that they may have had have been resolved. Thus, we effectively help our customers quicken the transfer and sales process. We are continuing to expand this technology to the rest of our projects as we believe it is a key differentiating factor.

What are the biggest risks facing your business?

The economic situation in Thailand is worrisome as this year is one of the worst in the past decade. This originated with the political turmoil last year and since then, despite the news flow, there has yet to be any concrete confirmation on any infrastructure projects, which hampers both private- and public-sector investment.

We are also worried about business practices in Thailand, as are our contemporaries. We have focused on educating the public that the construction industry can be clean and corruptionfree, and we have been recognised through the SET Corporate Governance Awards and the MAI Sustainability Index because of our business practices.

However, we still lose projects to competitors that do not have this same level of competence, quality and recognition. We hope that over time there will be a shift in Thailand's business culture toward companies that make an effort to be transparent in business operations and quality of service.

What impact will the Asean Economic Community have on your business?

We have already expanded to Laos with accommodation projects at the Hongsa power plant, and with the region continuing to develop we can see that demand for our type of service will increase, so we hope to continue expanding with our partners.

Where do you see PPS in five years?

We expect to move forward with continuing growth of additional services and complementary offerings that can add value for our clients. We aim to combine this with our philosophy of being a trustworthy partner for our customers to continue serving our clients in Thailand and throughout the region.

The Executive Q&A Series is presented by ShareInvestor, Asia's leading financial internet media, technology company and the largest investor relations network in the region. The interview was conducted by Pon Van Compernolle. For more information, e-mail pon@rossvancompernolle.com or supat@shareinvestor.com. Website: www.ShareInvestorThailand.com