At Benja, located in Bangkok, the focus of this firm is on the production of solid wood furniture, like this chair made of Ash from the U.S.
BENJA Crafts U.S. Hardwoods Into Stylish Furniture
By Lucas Ngu
Bangkok, Thailand–The word “benja” means five in the Thai language and has been chosen as the company’s name to represent the five major elements that are used to make furniture items – wood, metal, fabric, glass and natural materials.
Established six years ago, Benja Collection Co. Ltd. is a company that is associated with the development of prestigious projects in Thailand. These include renowned hotels like the Mercure Patong Phuket, Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok and Twin Peaks, while the company is also involved in the development of the Dusit La-Trattoria Restaurant, Tomyumkung Restaurant, Le Cordon Bleu, Bangkok, as well as upscale residential projects that include the Portofino Condominium Pattaya and The Grand Private Home.
Located in Bangplee Industrial Estate, which is an hour’s drive from Bangkok, Benja Collection churns out a wide range of indoor furniture items that come with contemporary and oriental styles. These are targeted mainly at the middle to high end segment of the market. General Manager Sopa Leevutinun said, “We started out as an interior design cum construction company and operated under the name of Furnia LCL Co. Ltd. We have been involved in the development of hotels for many years. Then came a time when our design team thought we should be producing our own furniture for our projects.”
When the company took part in Thailand International Furniture Fair for the first time and exhibited its products under the banner of Furnia LCL Co. Ltd., the company owners were convinced that it was time to set up a furniture mill of their own, judging from the good response received.
The Benja Collection is showcased at the company’s showroom in Bangkok.
According to Leevutinun, the factory uses mainly wood for the production of furniture, including the species of Ash and Oak which are imported from the U.S. Each month the mill churns out 20 containers of furniture items, 50 percent of which are exported to Japan, the Middle East, U.S., India and Europe.
“As far as American timber is concerned, most of them arrive at the mill wood for furniture ever since the mill was set up six years ago. “Our designers like the appearance and grain of the wood. For the local market, we know that imported wood like Ash and Oak make good high end furniture products because we have been in sawn lumber form because our emphasis is on the production of solid wood furniture which can fetch a higher price than those made from panels,” she said.
The factory has been using American involved in the development of prestigious projects, particularly hotels for a very long time,” Leevutinun pointed out.
“For the export market, we are compelled to use American timber species because we are exporting to the U.S.,” she continued. “The fact is that customers prefer the kind of wood that they have been accustomed to, so it is very much a customer-dictated decision.”
One of several dining sets made of Walnut at Benja’s manufacturing plant.
Generally, the company is quite happy with the timber that it gets from the U.S. However, Leevutinun noted that at times there was a need to laminate the narrow pieces that were supplied. “This can pose a problem because the color of the furniture would not be uniform. When this happens, workers would need to have the furniture stained to hide the inconsistency in the color of the wood.”
For six days a week, staff and workers carry out tasks assigned to them with the daily routine starting at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 5:30 p.m. The company’s forte lies in design and it is also armed with an ISO9001 certification that bears testimony to the company’s strong emphasis on product quality.
Leevutinun said, “We have a very experienced team of designers who have been involved in the hotel business for 15 years. It is a tough environment that they have been operating in and the expectations are very high. Hotel furniture must be tested to be functional, durable and comfortable. If they do not meet the quality standard, then the furniture will be rejected by our clients. Therefore, through the years, we have already established the standard for our products, having been exposed to the industry for so long.”
The company’s strength lies in furniture design and product quality.
The fact that the parent company qualifies to bid for huge projects has enabled Benja Collection to take part in the development of the bigger and more exclusive projects in Thailand, such as hotels, luxurious apartments, offices, supermarkets and restaurants. Though not very large yet in terms of size, both the factory owners and employees take pride in what happy customers have to say about the quality of furniture offered by the company.
As part of efforts to promote its furniture products overseas, the company has been actively taking part in exhibitions, including the Dubai show. For more information, contact Leevutinun at email@example.com.