The Women Behind The Riverboat Company In Bangkok
Tourists are everywhere in Bangkok. They fly into the country, stay in family hotels in Bangkok and ride commuter buses and boats. Many have no idea that the people behind the success of the charter boards traversing the Chao Phraya River are actually two women. The river boats have been in the family for four generation. The first generation was headed by the grandmother of Supapan Pichaironarong, the current head of the company.
According to her, her grandmother started the business around a century ago but they do not have an idea on the exact year. Her grandma led the company until her death in 1931 which prompted Supapan’s mother to take over at a young age of 20 years old.
Currently, they have ten companies under them with 600 workers under their payroll. Supapan is the third generation to handle the business and the fourth generation is already working at the forefront of the operations in order to prepare for the takeover.
Supapan has a daughter named Natapree who is currently 32 years old. She is tasked to handle the advertising sales of the group, the hotel as well as their retail business. She started taking charge six years ago.
Supapan new when she was younger that it is her duty to continue the family business therefore she is committed to working six days every week. Despite the lack of an engineering degree, she knows everything there is from the boats’ specifications to the buoyancy necessary in order keep the boats from sinking and so much more. Pim, Supapan’s daughter, talked about her with reverence because she views her mother as a woman no one can mess around.
The private group is earning around $30 million per year in revenue. They are expecting for a significant increase in the coming decades because the group is going to replace their wooden fleet with aluminium boats and the family is also trying their hand in real estate. A third of the revenue comes from the 57 Chao Phraya Express while their fleet managers over 100,000 passengers monthly including tourists from family hotels in Bangkok and even locals who are going about their daily lives.