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Unique background helps home renovator bring innovative perspective to business

Aug 03. 2015
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NUNTADEJ Sutthideshanai quit his career as a marketing consultant more than three years ago with the initial aim of pursuing his own business in the same profession. But he hit a snag right away.
A friend who had planned to co-invest in the venture changed his mind at the last minute after finding an interesting job offer. Nuntadej, who had already sent his resignation letter to his employer, decided to go ahead with the challenge of becoming an entrepreneur anyway.
However, he chose to become a home renovator instead, even though he had neither formal education nor work experience in the field.
“I had never thought I would have been in the real-estate business,” admitted Nuntadej, 29.
Nuntadej holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in marketing and business administration from Assumption College. He started his career in 2010 with Idea 360, a marketing research company, where he had the chance to work with clients in various businesses.
The massive floods in 2011 that swept through Thailand and destroyed his house gave him the chance to discover he had a passion and a gift for home decoration and renovation. 
“After the floods, I couldn’t find a contractor. Then, I happened to know a contractor who was taking over a restaurant on an island, and he wanted to transfer his company to me. So I got his workers to fix my house,” he said.
After rebuilding his house, he brought his workers to help build a new home for one of his close friends who had just got married. Nuntadej took no profit from this project, but the nice job his workers did helped him land more jobs. 
One of them was for a woman in the business of renovating condominiums for rental. Nuntadej suggested that she use teakwood coated with plywood instead of MDF (medium-density fibreboard) or particleboard for furnishing her condos. Although the costs were double those of the MDF used by most other people, the teakwood furnishing helped the woman find clients more quickly, in addition to saving her long-term costs because of the durability of teak.
“I charged her about Bt200,000, double the Bt100,000 for normal MDF work. But if she could rent out the condo two months faster, that meant Bt30,000 based on a monthly rental fee of Bt15,000. In addition, it is cheaper over a long time, since MDF will not last long,” he said.
That condo-renovation job is an example of the different business thinking that Nuntadej has applied to his company, 8020 Syndicus – focusing on return on investment (ROI) for its clients. 
“The client’s ROI can be non-monetary, such as aesthetics or other aspects that a client values,” he said. 
To help his clients to find out what their family members really value in their houses, Nuntadej has developed two unique sets of questionnaires that gauge different design factors for clients. These factors include safety, feng shui, ergonomics, cost versus ROI, durability, aesthetics, usage function, environmental impact, operating process, product, target market, and branding/identity. 
For example, a client who plans to rent out his property will normally focus on long-term ROI, durability and ease of maintenance, while usage function and aesthetics will be on a medium scale, since they have to cater to a wider range of residences. 
Results from the questionnaires help 8020 Syndicus work out designs that emphasise what really matters for particular clients, thus eliminating unnecessary costs for things that are not valued by the clients. 
Nuntadej said the name of his company, “8020”, came from the famous 80/20 rule – also known as the Pareto principle – that says 80 per cent of the outcome from a given situation is determined by 20 per cent of the input. In other words, one should focus on what really matters.
Nuntadej also runs a small shop that produces wooden works to support 8020 Syndicus’ business. It is headed by a woodworking technician who has been given a share in the company. 
Looking ahead, Nuntadej said 8020 Syndicus had no plan to expand the quantity of its work, but instead was aiming for the high-end market, where builders charge clients an average of about Bt40,000 per square metre. Currently, 8020 Syndicus is competing in the market charging Bt15,000-Bt25,000 per square metre.
“It will be a challenge to enter this high-end market,” he admitted.
Despite discovering his passion relatively late, Nuntadej said he did not regret never studying interior design, since his different background and lack of formal education in this field helped him to think differently and find a unique proposition for his business. 
“Had I studied interior design, I would have been thinking the same as other architects,” he said.

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