By KWANCHAI RUNGFAPAISARN
The new innovation – in which the machine accepts empty containers in exchange for money – is under the patent registration process.
The move is in line with the company’s vision to promote a better world by focusing on developing innovative products that help the environment and have health benefits.
“Because we always look at things from a different perspective, we can turn a problem into a business opportunity,” chief executive Nattapol Praditphonlert said. ‘The drinking-water vending machine business can help make the world a better place.
“It allows us to deliver consumers clean drinking water, at an affordable price, and is easily accessible with less packaging. A true commitment to a sustainable lifestyle for today and the future.”
Nattapol founded WaterNet in 1998 amid the financial crisis, which hit the Kingdom a year before and drove up living costs.
“Previously, I was interested in manufacturing bottled drinking water. However, with such a business, individual consumers are burdened with an unfair cost, with the cost of producing a bottle only 10 stang but the retail price Bt10 … a major part of the cost is packaging, transportation, and retailing,” he said.
“I then tried to look for other alternatives and drinking-water vending machines are a good solution for them [consumers].”
He said that the targeted customers of Daily Fresh are residents of apartments, condominiums and housing villages as well as people who buy bottled drinking water.
The Daily Fresh vending machine produces drinking water using the reverse osmosis system, in which dissolved organic solids a removed from the water.
“We have seen a trend where people are more concerned about reducing the impact on the environment. We are trying to educate them to change their buying behaviour so they gradually drink water,” Nattapol said.
Since 1998, the company has sold between 80,000 and 100,000 vending machines throughout the Kingdom. The buyers are those who want to make a one-time investment and reap the benefits.
“We have exported our drinking-water vending machines to more than 25 different markets in Europe, USA, Australia and Japan, as well as Malaysia and CLMV [Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam],” Nattapol said, adding that the company’s factory is located on Phaholyothin Road Soi 40 and employs 65 people.
He said that with the economy expected to grow slightly, the company planned to focus more on exports, especially in high-value markets such as the US and Europe.
“I want to increase the ratio of exports from currently 35-40 per cent to exceed the domestic sales within the next three years,” Nattapol said.