Renewable Power Producer Gunkul Dhumrongpiyawut Returns To The Record Of Thailand’s 50 Richest Recharged By A New Enterprise

This story is a part of Forbes’ protection of Thailand’s Richest 2022. See the total record right here.

Thailand has change into the primary Asian nation to decriminalize non-recreational use of hashish. Among the many first movers on this enterprise is Gunkul Engineering, one of many nation’s largest renewable vitality producers. The corporate has earmarked an funding of two billion baht ($57 million) for cultivation and manufacturing of medical-grade hashish that will also be utilized in cosmetics and meals merchandise. To kickstart the enterprise, Gunkul Engineering has teamed up with the Charoen Pokphand Group, owned by the Chearavanont brothers, to develop hemp seeds strains and cannabidiol-infused meals and beverage merchandise.

These strikes have made traders bullish on the corporate’s prospects. Its shares rose 8% prior to now yr, returning its founder and chairman Gunkul Dhumrongpiyawut to the ranks of the nation’s 50 richest after a four-year hiatus with a web price of $765 million.

Seated within the eighth flooring boardroom of the corporate’s company headquarters at Pearl Bangkok, an workplace tower that appears similar to The Gherkin in London, chairman Gunkul calls this new enterprise “the chance of the last decade.” He’s flanked by his spouse Sopacha Dhumrongpiyawut and the corporate’s CEO, Somboon Aueatchasai, who collectively run the day-to-day operations. (His daughter Naruechon is the corporate’s chief working officer.)

The agency will likely be using the land round its windfarms for the mission. “Land is a byproduct of our wind vitality enterprise,” says Gunkul, who expects hemp to generate $50 million in income by subsequent yr. Sopacha provides that in search of new alternatives is a part of her husband’s DNA, however he begins a brand new enterprise solely when he’s “90% assured of success.”

Gunkul constructed his firm from scratch. The fifth of seven youngsters, his father owned a small store promoting building supplies in Bangkok. Whereas his siblings had been diligent, Gunkul says he was by no means a lot of a pupil and dropped out of college as a young person to work at his father’s store. At age 18, he approached the town’s electrical energy authority providing to provide tools. However his enterprise obtained going solely a decade later in 1982, when he arrange his firm.

In 1992, he took a financial institution mortgage of two million baht and obtained into manufacturing to benefit from a authorities coverage providing a 14% worth premium for regionally produced tools. Establishing his first manufacturing unit was arduous and led to “many sleepless nights,” he recollects. It was troublesome to search out the correct folks and a few staff left to start out a rival enterprise.

Gunkul’s enlargement into renewable vitality happened when he secured a contract from the Electrical energy Producing Authority of Thailand in 2007 to put in a wind turbine. “I spotted this may very well be enterprise that might begin giving returns shortly,” he explains. The corporate obtained into photo voltaic adopted by wind, securing a raft of company clients corresponding to Charoen Pokphand Meals, a part of the CP Group.

Nearly a decade in the past, Gunkul Engineering started to develop abroad with renewable vitality tasks in Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam. The corporate has since offered two of its 4 tasks in Japan, and Gunkul says for now his main focus is on the home market. Eager to scale up its current capability of 642 megawatts, Gunkul Engineering in Could shaped a three way partnership with a subsidiary of billionaire Sarath Ratanavadi’s Gulf Power Growth. This goals so as to add 1,000 megawatts over the following 5 years.

The upcoming expansions are anticipated to arrest a current earnings slide. First-quarter web revenue fell 17% to 505 million baht whereas income stayed flat at 2.3 billion baht, following full-year declines of 35% and 10%, respectively, in 2021. Suwat Sinsadok, head of analysis at FSS Worldwide Funding Advisory Securities, expects web revenue and income to leap 73% to three.8 billion baht and 32% to 12.3 billion baht, respectively, in 2022 and predicts stable annual will increase by means of 2024.

Gunkul, who grows durian at his farm close to the seashore resort city of Hua Hin—and who can also be a severe wine connoisseur with a set that he shops in Hong Kong—is assured the corporate can develop income by 50% over the following 5 years, “I’m already in search of the following alternative.”

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