Northwood University

The Northwood University Study Abroad Blog


Life Lessons From Business in Thailand

While in Thailand, we went to Burapha University. We spoke with their dean and a couple of professors there. After hearing a lecture and practicing a traditional Thai dance and song, (so much fun!) they accompanied us to a global air conditioner manufacturing business – Daikin Industries (Thailand) Ltd. With worldwide locations in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, China, Asia/Oceania, North America, Central & South America, and Japan, let’s just say they knew a little something about international business.

We toured their training facilities, assembly line factory, and got a personal presentation on the company and international business from upper management. There were several things that I found interesting about Daikin Industries. First, there were a LOT of women that worked in the factory. When I think of assembly lines and factories, I automatically think of them as being men’s jobs. But there were actually more women working there than men – crazy! One of the speakers actually admitted that women had a better skill for some of the technical work than men did and that they “took great care”. Watching them in the factories, I was awestruck. They prided themselves on being able to spit out 20 units an hour. I watched a man that moved so quickly and seamlessly in his department on the line that you would have swore he was a robot. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about the Asian culture, they’re perfectionists. They practice until they’re the best. And they are the best – at a lot of things.

The next day, we went to a rubber factory. We got to see the process of making rubber from beginning to end. We saw the trees they came from, the process of mixing the sap from trees with acid and other ingredients to make the actual rubber mix, the pouring of it into individual slots, the removal, flattening, smoking, and hanging of it to dry before it was finally loaded into trucks.
I had no idea that there was such a long list of things to do to make rubber. The place we visited was family owned. The man who showed us around was the owner’s son, and it was his grandfather who had founded the company. He wasn’t afraid to get down and idrty as he explained each step to us. I figure he probably worked there as a child and young adult, like many other children of business owners.

The atmosphere at the rubber company was completely different from that of Daikin. This one was more laid back, easy-going, and the workers seemed happier. The funny part is, the working condiditons weren’t nearly as nice as those at Daikin. So it makes you wonder if there’s some value in keeping things small and family-centered. I’d say yes, definitely.

Applying this principle to everyday life is good too. Small, simple, easy-going, and happy. Sounds like a life plan to me.

-Paige Eldridge

(Top Photo: Northwood University students along with Daikin management outside of their factory. Bottom Photo: Our guide showing us how the rubber is removed from the trees at the very beginning of the process.)