January / February 2018 • Issue 1 • PANELS & FURNITURE ASIA 14 PANEL MANUFACTURING NEXT GENERATION ENTREPRENEURS What does the futureof panel manufacturing look like? The answer may be found in the young managers of Thailand’s Metro Ply Group. t 28 and 26, Rangsinee and Kanatuch (Ekky) Piyasombatkul represent a new generation of plantmanagers in Southeast Asia that will one day take ownership of their family’s wood business. Growing up, they were taught riches do not endure forever and a crown is not secure for all generations. They visited the factory frequently, the value of hard work, discipline and responsibilitywoven into the fabric of their nature at a very young age. That this has always been in their DNA meant Ekky “never really thought of anything else except to step into the role,” he says. “My father is a very serious man and a personal motivation for me. He would say ‘no one is going to support you, you have to support yourself and be the family leader one day.’” Stepping into the world of wood panelswith no experience or credibility— and expected to manage it one day—is a mammoth task. The learning curve is steep and there is no hand holding. The second of three children, Ekky manages the particleboard and flooring products business. He started learning aboutmachines first, fromstaffwho have worked in the factory for decades. In the meantime, he alsomade the effort to get to know them and their families. Cousins Rangsinee and Kanatuch (Ekky) Piyasombatkul have been tasked to manage their family’s panel business, and one day grow it beyond its current capacity.