Thai National Champion who changes his passion into a business for bicycle lovers

Noppadon Piriyakul

Piriya International Co.,Ltd

“If I didn’t have the courage to ask my mother for her permission to go to Belgium, I wouldn’t be here today because, 20 years ago, 30 000 baht was such a big amount for a rural boy whose parents were teachers and had to take care of 3 family members.”

On that day, an 18-year-old young man with the title of Kingdom’s National Champion set off on a 5 000 mile journey to follow his dream. He found a business that he loves in which the meticulousness is measured in millimeters. He returned to set up a business amidst the opposition of people around him and the word’s impossible. He persistently put together the puzzles of success day after day. Until, today, nobody in the bicycle industry would know Bas Noppadon Piriyakul, managing director of Piriya International Co., Ltd that imports bicycles and world’s class equipment for Thai people.


Catch the dream and see the world

“I saw snow in the movie I watched. So, I asked my father how the snow is like. Is it really cold? Is it really the ice? My father just gave me a pat on my shoulder and said he doesn’t know. He had never seen one before. If a son like myself get to see one, remember to tell him how it’s like”, that was a recount of conversation between young Bas and his father. This is still on his mind all the time and it led him to travel overseas alone to Brussels, Belgium. A town that fills with bicycle lovers and it is a great inspiration for bicycle lovers. It was the very first time that a rural boy traveled such a far distance with 30 000 baht he received from his family, which 22 000 baht was spent for plane tickets and only 8 000 baht was left for him to survive in Belgium and a few sets of clothes without a single coat. It was a real journey of bravery and unknown. Not knowing how far Belgium is from where he was. Not knowing how the weather would be like. Not knowing the language to communicate with people there. He did not know anything…

Eventually, Bas had to wash dishes to earn money and survive as well as using body language to communicate with people in Brussels that mainly speak French. Many things did not go according to what he expected, especially when he tested his muscle strength in a country that is the world of bicycles and sports science was developed to a certain level. Bas realized that he was no match to the people there and becoming a professional athlete would not earn him a living. However, his love and passion for bicycles had never gone away. One day, he finally brought himself to the thing he loves by fixing a bicycle for an uncle who was waiting for his bike to be fixed. That uncle was surprised by Bas’s capability that by just looking, Bas could pinpoint the problem and fix it easily. When the owner of the repair shop knew about this, he recruited Bas to become his regular employee starting from that day.

Let me do what I love and I will ask for no more

By working in a bicycle shop, Bas got to see many products relating to bicycles that Thailand still did not have, but it would be great to have. He got to see an opportunity to do a business from what he loves because the world of bicycle needs understanding and requires meticulousness in the level of millimeters. By adjusting the stem 2 millimeters higher or lower or adjusting the length of the frame with 10 – 20 millimeters difference, there is a huge impact on the riding effectiveness. After more than a year spent in Belgium, Bas decided to return to Thailand and open a company, importing bicycles and its equipment. This is a turning point and the starting point of everything in the life of a man name Noppadon Piriyakul, who has courage and determination like his family name, and this is the story of Piriya International Co., Ltd.

Bas came back home with 200 000 baht in his pocket. He told his family that “I have obtained a Ph.D. of a life lesson and I want to open a shop to import bicycle equipment”. At that time, Bas dared not say that he would open a company because it was something that would be quite hard to understand for his family. He asked his parents and relatives to support him financially as capital to open a shop. Despite not agreeing with what Bas was going to do, everybody supported him. Each of them gave him 200 000 baht which was a total of 800 000 baht. Bas knew that what he was doing went against the feeling of the adults because, at that time, in the whole province, rumor has it that the son of the teacher that did not graduate had returned. Bas’s father was a teacher that taught many people, but his own son does not graduate. How his parents would feel, that is not hard to tell. So, he promised that he would complete the engineering course that he dropped and when he graduated, let him do what he loves and he will ask for no more!

The first step with the first product

Even though Bas said that he would graduate, but his business could not wait. When the engine of becoming an entrepreneur has started, Bas chose to study and work at the same time. He rented a place from someone he knows in Ramkhamhaeng to register for his company. Then he listed out the products he wanted to sell, but, with the six-digit budget, he had to begin from just helmets first. The brand that he chose, apart from quality that meets the standard, it has to fit the head size of the Asians. It costs him one year of going back and forth between Thailand and overseas and he spent almost 400 000 baht to obtain this first brand product. Bas told us that the brand owner wanted to survey the Thai market and would visit his office and dealer before deciding whether to let Bas become their representative in Thailand. However, at that time, Bas’s office was only located on the website and paper. Also, he did not even have a single dealer, to begin with. He, thus, had to say that his office was under renovation and booked a luxurious hotel near Chao Phraya River for business talk and for the brand owner to stay

As Bas truly understands the product, presents it well, and is an athlete, the brand owner was very impressed. However, the brand owner asked to meet with the dealer before leaving the country. Bas thought hard about the solution. Eventually, he decided to bring the brand owner to the bike shop that he knows and talked to the shop owner about the helmet. Everything ended with a group photo. 3 days after that, Piriya International Co., Ltd has officially become one of the brand representatives. It seems like a small achievement, but a world to a young man in his early 20s that he can successfully import the first global-renown product.

When a young man has to put on professional look

At the beginning phase of opening a company, Bas had to work and study at the same time. He had to manage his mental and physical strength to do both tasks that he had no time to rest at all within the 24-hour range of time. Bas made use of the time before going to bed to pack the products. He went to bed at 3 o’clock in the morning and woke up at 6 to clear his work and another document. Later in the morning, he dressed up in office attire to deliver the products. After that, he went to visit his dealers and introduced new products. At noon, he had lunch and changed into the uniform to attend classes in the afternoon. When his classes were over, he changed back into office attire and continued working because he had to put up the look of a professional and he could not afford to let anybody know that he was still studying. He got to have his dinner around 8 p.m. After that, he replied to his email to overseas brand owners, looked for new products, and packed the products to deliver the next day. Bas’s life cycle went on like this for 4 years. With 3 hours of sleeping a day, he had almost gotten into an accident.

When dealing with foreigners, many of the time that they did not believe that Bas is a Managing Director (MD) because he was skinny with sunken cheeks young man. When he wore a suit, he did not look elegant. His fellow foreign friends, thus, suggested that he put on more weight and told him that “When doing business dealing overseas, our partners have no idea of what kind of meal we have and what kind of house we are living in. They only look out for 3 things when they are facing us: watch, shoes, and pen that we use to sign the papers.” The words that were said by his friend on that day led Bas to change his appearance completely. He gained weight, cut his hair, and groomed up because, at the end of the day, everything that was done is for the sake of establishing the reliability himself.

On the day that life and business are not like how they used to be

Bas worked alone for 4 years with a starting budget of 800 000 baht cash flow in his business. About 9 years after the company is opened, Bas’s wife received a document from SCB that offered a financial amounts to his business. At that time, Bas was in France, so he told his wife to turn down the offer. Nevertheless, he was contacted by the bank once again and Bas finally gave in. He agreed on an appointment at 1130 as he intended to talk for only half an hour, but the conversation ended up prolong till 1700. Bas recounted that “It was such a fun talk. It’s really eye-opening and I got to learn what I haven’t known about.” After that day, Bas received the financial amount from SCB and this sum of money has become an important factor that helps his business to grow by leaps and bounds.

“In the past, we thought what we had at that time was already enough. We were happy at this scale and we had been told that being in debt is not good. But, actually, it’s not true! Because those words came from people who are not doing business. When I had a chance to talk, I have a clear picture that access to the source of capital is important. On the day that we don’t have money, but we are in need of it. On the day that we have and we want to expand, we also need to use money. All in all, I’m very impressed and from this very first amount of money,my business grew by 180% from 45 million to 65 million baht on that very same year.”

Apart from the amount of money he received from SCB, Bas also comes to know about various tools that were offered as aids to an entrepreneur like himself such as Trust Receipt that bills can be paid by Letter of Credit (L/C) in which purchase can first be made without requiring cash. This also allows safety and cash flow in the business.

Success from the heart that is big enough

It is always hard at the beginning, but it is never too hard if we are determined. When facing obstacles, Bas will not listen to his second thought. He will say to himself that “the first choice is always the right choice”. On the path laid to today, Bas was not lucky but he was being true to his passion and he takes actions . If our heart is big enough, if we wish for it enough, we can do it. It is just like the record that is always broken because there are people out there who try to improve themselves all the time. Bas said that “I choose to feel sad but not to feel regret. I would rather do my very best than to talk about what-ifs and should-haves. So, if you want to be successful, you have to love what you do. You have to be determined and look for ways to succeed like what was said in the 4 bases for the success of Buddha.”

If there are people saying that the bicycle industry is not very promising now and he should change his business. Bas answered that “I definitely won’t change but I’ll make it more modern.” Besides, he said that who we will become in 5 years time is determined by the books that we read and the friends that we have. This is the reason Bas joins SCB SME as one of the mentors because he wants to be a friend who will speak the same language as his fellow entrepreneurs like how athletes are discussing and not the audience teaching the athletes. “I am a player like all of you. I want to cheer you up. You have that determination in you. We speak the same language. Business is all about people and money. The real problem doesn’t exist. If we understand, we will survive”, said Bas.

Nowadays, Bas imported bicycles and equipment from a total of 22 brands all over the world such as Italy, Germany, America, Japan, Taiwan, etc. Every brand that he imported has been meticulously chosen to match the physique and usage of Thai people at a reasonable price and truly meets the demands of the customers. Also, staff that is employed in Bas’s company will need to have their love for bicycles because his office is not located in the mall or community area that is surrounded by convenience but situated among tires and wires. Therefore, if they do not love bicycles, they are deemed to suffer. So, Bas has a method to search for people which is “we have to make ourselves good enough that people whom we want to meet will be able to see us.” And this is the identity of Piriya International Co., Ltd that is truly a business for bicycle lovers.

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