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A specialist company for the preparation and development of direct investments
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Interim Management at Driessen Thailand

In October 2004 DeRuiter Consultancy was asked to fill an urgent management position for the duration of 3 months in the manufacturing and regional sales operations of Driessen Aircraft Interior Systems in Thailand. Thus began an interesting period for Kees de Ruiter, since taking up the management of existing companies was additional to our usual international operations, namely the preparation and development of business operations in overseas countries.

However, at the end of that period Driessen, still without a permanent Managing Director, requested Kees de Ruiter to stay on a bit longer in the position to prepare and implement a plan for the complete turnaround of the company, by improving efficiency and effectiveness, planning and control and business and work culture.

A renovation plan focusing on the company’s galley equipment manufacturing operations and later also its cargo business in Thailand was agreed upon. Because Kees was also managing the daily operations of the company, a time span of two years was considered necessary to implement all aspects of the programme.

 Kees de Ruiter - Interim Management at Driessen Thailand

Driessen in Thailand had experienced years of fast growth, partly due to overall growth of the business, but mainly because many of the company’s activities were being transferred there from The Netherlands, its home base. This transfer of the business to Thailand had taken place in a somewhat haphazard manner, leading to quite sub-optimal operations with a more or less provisory manufacturing and management organisation structure. Moreover, the manufacturing processes were limited to some extent by the local environment. Production interruptions due to breakdowns could only be countered by large over-capacity, not by redundancy or a keen maintenance philosophy.

The company culture

The first part of the assignment was to establish a committed local management team, enhance team skills and create an open management culture throughout the organisation, promote a mutual vision of future operations and build trust in the process of change.

Ample time was also given to changing the ineffective way problems were dealt with by incorporating awareness that the problems were never just the concern of the individual ultimately causing them, but also of the group or even the whole organisation effected by them. Problems are now solved by committees of people that in one way or another are related to the problem.

The Thai culture

The Thai culture in large organisations as Driessen Thailand is, necessitates a form of leadership that is clear and decisive, nowadays in developed industrial countries characterised as somewhat patronising, while relations between management, staff and workers, and amongst each other, are founded in the country’s strongly embedded Buddhist philosophy: attitudes of respect and service towards each other. This philosophy can be very well utilised to the good to enhance teamwork and cooperation and as a reference in matters of collective responsibility.

A great number of structural and operational improvements were able to be incorporated in the manufacturing organisation within the interim management period (see the contribution from Paul Verheul, CEO of Driessen in this issue) and although fine-tuning requires more time, the Thai manufacturing organisation is now fully capable of dealing with the requirements of its clients: on-time delivery, and high and flexible productivity and output - all supporting low manufacturing costs and a responsive organisation.

Thailand for Group’s parts making

One notable aspect of Driessen’s “view of the future” was the prominent position entrusted to the parts-making department. The growth and profitability of the facility in Lamphun was targeted for parts-making predominantly and large volumes of orders are now received from the company’s aircraft galley manufacturing organisations in the US and the EU. With large investments in CNC milling, the facility is now ready to supply the majority of parts for Driessen’s galleys. The assignment was finally completed at the end of 2007 and we consider it one of the finest we have ever been commissioned to perform by our clients.