Cover Story: ML Ploynapat Leenutaphong As A Curator Of Contentment
They say standing next to every successful man is an equally successful woman, one who is not only supportive but actively leads in the pursuit of their shared vision. Leenutaphong is a well-known family name in Thailand’s automobile industry, mostly associated with the import of German marques BWM and Volkswagen. ML Ploynapat Leenutaphong, or Kwan, is the daughter of MR Supadis Diskul and granddaughter of Prince Piriyadis Diskul. A woman very much from the modern can-do mould, she and husband Apichat Leenutaphong, or Nat, are co-founders of Sharich Holding, the official importer of Koenigsegg hypercars, Ducati and Royal Enfield motorcycles, NIU smart electric scooters and a range of state-of-the-art cleaning robots, air purifiers and gadgets including iRobot, IQAir and StylPro.
With her husband’s experience of over two decades in the automobile industry, and thanks to Apichat’s strong reputation, it came as no surprise when Renazzo Motor—a subsidiary of Sharich Holding—was appointed sole importer and after-sales service provider for Italian supercar maker Automobili Lamborghini in 2018. The exclusive agreement cemented Kwan and Nat’s position as a power couple both in the country’s auto industry and luxury lifestyle sector.
While Nat holds the position of chief executive officer, Kwan picked chief happiness officer as her business title and although she admits it sounds “fluffy”, she takes her responsibilities seriously. “Yes, it’s an unusual title and it made you smile straight away,” she points out. “But it’s my job to ensure the happiness and satisfaction of our staff and our prestigious customers and let me tell you, that is no laughing matter because it requires skills ranging from a seasoned PR officer to a trusted agony aunt.” Over the years Kwan has seen how hardworking and dedicated her husband has been when it comes to managing the business and says all she really wants is to support him, to be a useful asset that helps him and the company as a whole reach their goals. “I think sometimes people focus too much on selling and not enough on customer satisfaction and happiness, which contribute enormously to the longevity and sustainability of a business by fostering long-term relationships.”
In forging these relationships Kwan is professional in her proficiency, committing to memory not only the names and interests of partners, employees and clients but also their family members. From arranging gifts for clients to managing catering selections and table settings for company events, Kwan makes a point of having her finger on the pulse and says no detail is too small for her attention. “We want every Renazzo client to be proud to own a Lamborghini. Buying such a car is a family event, which is why at each delivery ceremony we prepare gifts for the client and their family members. We also organise regular follow-up activities for them to enjoy, which provide us with a means of keeping in touch.”
In line with this notion of keeping clients happy with outstanding services and care, last year the company celebrated the establishment of the Lamborghini Club Thailand, which Kwan oversees. Comprising an exclusive private membership of Lamborghini owners, beyond special privileges and networking opportunities the club aims to give happiness back to society through regular fundraising activities and CSR trips for the members. To date they have visited the Sea Turtle Conservation Centre at Sattahip to release hatchlings into the sea, donated educational materials, sports kit and medical equipment worth 1.5 million baht to various organisations in Chantaburi, and most recently contributed 1.47 million baht in financial support, PPE equipment and alcohol gel to seven hospitals and a foundation.
Related: Behind The Scenes: ML Ploynapat Leenutaphong Spreads Joy On The June 2020 Cover
Those who know Kwan well will tell you that she is in her perfect job. “It’s true,” she laughs. “I’m known as the mediator in the family—the one who tries to keep everyone content. I like to be a giver, someone who thinks about what they can do for others first. I think making people happy is a way of keeping yourself happy. It’s a very rewarding feeling.” As a student she earned a bachelor’s degree from the Faculty of Arts at Chulalongkorn University followed by a master’s in technology management from the University of New South Wales in Australia. “Actually, my childhood dream was to become a teacher,” she says. “So after I graduated I spent the first three years of my professional life lecturing and tutoring at my old faculty at Chulalongkorn.”
Kwan was still teaching when she met Nat. The couple married 17 years ago and are parents of 13-year-old son Theetat. “Some people may find my parenting techniques a bit too laid back,” the 41-year-old mother laughs. “But I think I’m a chilled mum. My son and I enjoy a close bond. We’re great friends and I would never pressure him to join the family business,” she says and then laughs again. “In fact, he’s very much his own person—he’s not into luxury and the complete opposite of a car enthusiast!” When she is not busy with work and being a mother and wife Kwan indulges in a love of music. “I learned to play the dulcimer, a kind of stringed instrument, at a young age. I also enjoy playing the piano occasionally. I find it a great way to switch off,” she says. As a family she, Nat and Theetat try to squeeze in three vacations a year, often return trips to Japan, Dubai and the UK. “I love these places but what I really want to do is visit Africa and go on safari,” she says.
In terms of the future, rather than having showrooms dotted around the country Kwan tells us the company’s mantra will be quality over quantity and the focus remains the continual improvement of its upscale showroom and service centre on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road. “We believe our current facility is perfectly equipped to service Lamborghini in Thailand. But we want to achieve much more than that. We aim to be the best Lamborghini showroom in the world by 2022 in terms of luxury and the supercar experience and services,” she says. “When running any kind of business attention to detail is so important, but above all it is crucial to do things wholeheartedly and with transparency.”
Even for the most ambitious businessmen and women, life is not all about work. In fact, Kwan’s vision is not only to bring joy to her staff and clients but also to the community. Despite her privileged lifestyle and success, the chief happiness officer has not turned a blind eye on the inequalities and poverty that persist in the country. To this end she founded the Punsuk Foundation in 2018. “The aim for it is to become a platform that can strategically and effectively help those in need,” she says. “I want to do something that is both impactful and sustainable. I love being a working mum and taking care of my family but looking ahead, I intend to dedicate more of my time to the foundation.” Given her no-nonsense outlook on life, her capacity to take on multiple responsibilities—and all with a smile—she is sure to succeed.
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- Photography Jakrapong Chumneankul
- Styling Aruchan Phanpat
- Make-Up Pisanu Deeviputh
- Hair Anchalee Seehawallop
- Outfit Club 21
- Jewellery Gems Pavilion
- Location The Athenee Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Bangkok