Asian Times: Thank you for giving us some of your time today Mr. Stocks.
May I ask you how long have you been living in Thailand?
Andrew Stocks: I have been living in Thailand for most of my life. I came to Thailand as a young child, fell in love with the country and went back home, but it was always my dream to one day move to Thailand and stay there. Now Thailand is my home and I still love it as much.
A.T: Has Thailand changed in that time?
A.S: Oh yes! Certainly so much! Thailand used to be backwards in many ways, but nowadays, it beats many other countries and is rapidly changing to become more modern.
A.T: What made you choose Thailand to live?
A.S: Oh without a doubt, the people. They are so kind, caring, sharing, and are always so giving.
A.T: Do you think one day you will go back to the UK to live?
A.S: I have always dreamed of retiring in Italy, if not Italy then central London. I have always loved Italy, so romantic and I can feel the warmth of the Italian people.
A.T: Talk about retiring, when do you think you will retire?
A.S: I am hoping to retire in about 5 years time, but at the moment I have so much going on, that it seems impossible, but I never give up hope.
A.T: I see you are a well known character and I guess it’s because of your business. May I ask, have you found it difficult to do business in Thailand?
A.S: I think doing business in Thailand is much easier than in many other countries because it has far less red tape than in many other countries. Also working with the Thai people is challenging at times, but mostly they are so easy to work with, so easy to get along with and are very easy going. I really enjoy working here and I love my work so much.
A.T: May I ask has Covid affected you in any way?
A.S: Oh yes! Covid has really damaged me a lot. My business has really struggled. I have had to sell many things to help me get through these difficult times. My company income fell by almost 90%. Losing so much was a nightmare. However the hardest thing was knowing my staff were having to work harder but get paid less. But they have all been so good throughout and not one member of staff has ever complained.
A.T: Are you over the bad times now?
A.S: Yes. I feel I am just waking up from the nightmare, I feel lucky when I compare myself to many of my friends, some of whom lost everything. Going by our bookings and enquiries, my forecast is that it is just now beginning to pick up, and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. But at times, it was dark! I was always hopeful. The small flame never went out.
A.T: How about your company Sunshine International? Where do you see it going? Has it been easy?
A.S: For sure not easy! This is a difficult business, especially because of Covid, but I still believe deep down, it’s going to take off rapidly and there will be a retirement boom in Thailand.
With the cost of living in Thailand a lot lower than in Europe, the people so kind and caring, and due to the beautiful climate all year around, I believe Thailand will become a major destination for retirees.
A.T: Where do you see your company going?
A.S: Oh I believe it’s going to get bigger and bigger with new hotel type residences coming up in many locations.
Our website is extremely busy, we get emails with questions, on a daily basis and our future looks promising.
A.T: Why are you successful because many similar companies like this have already failed?
A.S: This is a good question, but I believe our marketing is outstanding. We are marketing to our customers’ regularly and even though we are not perfect, my team is really doing its best. Our company doesn’t work at a corporate level, and even though we are getting bigger, we still like to keep it in a family style.
My current management is focused on taking the company forward. We have a team working on franchising, and we are continually investing in the company trying to improve many different aspects, especially our services to our customers.
We are also in talks regarding a couple of new projects, I am not sure if they will be going ahead just yet, but if all goes to plan, it would be great to announce, one or both of these, very soon.
A.T: Do you get very stressed at times?
A.S: Occasionally I do. I guess on my bad days I do! But most days, I stay joyful and happy.
A.T: Do you have family in Thailand?
A.S: No I don’t have any children. My parents are in the UK, but I speak to them via social media at least five times every day. I am close to my parents even though we live on the other side of the world. My mother doesn’t really like flying, but she still comes out to see me every year. Often, my parents will come out from Southampton on a cruise liner.
A.T: What hobbies do you have?
A.S: Currently, I spend all my time on my businesses trying to recover as quickly as possible. Due to Covid, it has been difficult but in normal times, I love to travel.
I have always adored travelling, meeting people, getting to know them, learning from them. I have met so many wonderful and fascinating people in my life. I still believe today that traveling and meeting people is the best education you can have.
I have learned from so many people that life is short. I have been blessed with people wanting to give me new opportunities. I have mixed with some very different types of people. Some who have taught me to never stop reaching for the stars. People always pushing me to be one step better and to never give up.
A.T: What is your dream now?
A.S: I want to make a new luxury hotel far out from the tourist areas, in the middle of the jungle and keep it in the Thai style as much as possible. I feel foreigners coming to Thailand nowadays, don’t get to see the real Thailand. They only see the built-up areas that are very similar to other parts of the world.
I want people to come and see Thailand, see it’s natural beauty, see the real local people, the old Thai style restaurants, the jungle, the animals, the old Thai roofs. I believe people would love that. The real old Thai style is so beautiful and delicate, but sadly, not many foreigners really see or know Thailand.
A.T: I hope you can get your dream.
A.S: Yes I am sure I will. I have always been one for setting dreams and visions bigger than what I feel I can do, and then I get a kick from achieving them. I am already in talks with a friend about doing this hotel in the middle of nowhere. It’s very exciting for me and important that I can achieve my dreams. I have always been a dream maker and I work tirelessly on trying to reach my dreams, to say I did it!
A.T: It seems like you take your life very seriously.
A.S: No I don’t to be honest. In fact many years ago I met a man who was 104 years old and he always told me to enjoy every day as much as you can before it’s too late…
A.T: Do you drink alcohol Andrew?
A.S: Not too much. I enjoy a glass of red wine or champagne sometimes. I try to eat healthy and keep my body in good shape. I need to keep my brain in good order as I have a high responsibility to feed all my staff every month. That’s a big responsibility for me.
A.T: What drives you?
A.S: For sure it’s the challenge. I don’t work for money. I work only to beat my challenge and I am happy to know I can feed so many families. I love my staff.
A.T: It’s very well known you are very wealthy, would you mind telling us your net worth?
A.S: Well there is always lots of gossip going around, in fact I am really not wealthy, I am just a normal person who is managing my own business and I have my budgets just like everyone else. I am comfortable and I am happy just the way I am.
A.T: Who will take over your companies when you retire in five years?
A.S: I have a wonderful Thai business partner. He has a wife and he has been my business partner for over 20 years, so it’s more than likely he will continue with building the brand.
A.T: Do you only have one business partner or do you have any shareholders?
A.S: I only have one business partner, we don’t have any shareholders. Together we own our business ourselves. I don’t want any partners because it gets too complicated.
A.T: Do you still think there is scope for young people to come to Thailand and be successful entrepreneurs like yourself?
A.S: Oh certainly yes yes yes! There are so many projects that I could start even now and they would make you a millionaire. The problem I have is I don’t have the time. But for someone moving to Thailand from Europe, Thailand has plenty to offer for those who are serious about starting a good business.
A.T: Do you speak Thai?
A.S: No not really, I was never really educated. I hated school and I was always bad with languages. Even English I’m not that good. He he he he.
A.T: Well thank you Andrew for your time today…
A.S: You’re welcome