Benz Thonglor founder Wasan succumbs to cancer
Prominent businessman Wasan Bodhipimpanon, founder of Benz Thonglor Group, succumbed to liver cancer at 76 on Wednesday.
The Bodhipimpanon family announced that his funeral service would start at 4pm on Thursday at Wat That Thong in Bangkok’s Watthana district.
Wasan was well-known among Thailand’s business landscape as one of the few entrepreneurs who survived the “Tom Yum Kung” financial crisis in 1997 and managed to revive his car dealership back to life.
He founded the company in 1977 and built it into one of the top Mercedes-Benz dealerships in the country.
In an interview, Wasan once said it took him 15 years to get Benz Thonglor Group back on its feet after the Tom Yum Kung crisis and that he had kept his promise in 1997 to retain almost 500 of his staff until the crisis passed.
One of his notable tactics was to turn some car showrooms into Som Tum (green papaya salad) restaurants, and attract customers by giving out free dishes on their first visit.
He was also well-known for being the first to open “Talad Nad Khon Khoei Ruay” (flea market of the former rich), which encouraged entrepreneurs affected by the financial crisis to sell their valuables and collectibles at cheap prices to strengthen liquidity for their businesses.
Talad Nad Khon Khoei Ruay is still an attraction in Thailand today although its meaning and purpose have slightly changed, as now anyone is welcome to sell their valuables there.