Sunday Hoops

A three day weekend is something special, but especially so when you’re a little kid. Mommy was off at graduation practice for her uni, so the kids and I got in the Crown and cruised around lazy Sunday style, picked up some fries at Mickey D’s, and went to some shaded outdoor courts across from their school for a picnic and some basketball.

These days, Max is trying out all kinds of sports to see what he likes. He was into football only for a couple years, but has gotten into ping pong more recently. He’s expressed interested interest in starting up muay thai again, so we will start on that at Nam’s uni next week if we can. Just the past couple of days he’s been dribbling around a basketball, so today was the day to find out if he could get the ball up to the basket yet:

A photo of Max in his pre-basket days.
Max in his full post-basket glory. Be proud son, not everyone has a snapshot of such an important moment.

This was his very first unassisted basket, and there was much celebration. All in all, he got in three baskets today and wore the hell out of his arms. As I remember, this is an important growth marker for kids – playing until you’re worn out, then playing some more on top of that. So I pushed him some more for good measure.

As we were leaving, some high school girls came around to play in their green team uniforms and we watched them start practicing. Max asked if I could dunk, and I said no, but he should ask the girls if they could.

He asked why, and I told him it might be a good pick up line. He asked what a pick up line was, and when I explained, he got pretty annoyed with me and asked why I wanted him to have such an old (!) girlfriend. I told him it would make all the little girls in his class jealous, after which Max got angry and stopped talking to me for a while. But we listened to trap on the way home, and even Gucci agreed with me.

Triumph Motorcycles Production in Thailand

Triumph is alive and thriving in Thailand (300 units/week):

OK, but why did they ever go to Thailand in the first place?

“It was primarily for us to be able to do certain processes that we wouldn’t be able to do in the UK… So, every company has had to make a choice, in terms of where it’s going to source its components from globally. And some companies are comfortable with saying, “OK, I’m going to go and work with a supplier in China, or – I’m going to buy my complete engines (in some cases) from a different company”. That’s never been Triumph’s way of doing business. John Bloor has always taken a viewpoint that we want to be in control of the things that we believe are important, in order to get the quality of the product right, and to be in charge of the supply chain.

I’ve never been to a motorcycle factory here, but I’ve been to automotive component factories on industrial estates in Chonburi and the production lines managed by major Japanese companies are almost on the same level as ones in Japan.

Thai workers can be trained to do work every bit as well as their Japanese counterparts, this I have seen. I’ve spoken with factory managers, floor supervisors, and line leaders as well, and the consensus is that clear instructions and objectives are what determines good product build specifically here in Thailand. Whereas Japanese workers might take it upon themselves to point out problems or suggestions as part of their constant improvement process, a Thai worker is more likely to express pride in their work by doing exactly what they’re told.

Unsurprisingly, this probably mirrors the evolution of the Japanese line worker as well. Not all Japanese production lines or systems are created equal, and I’ve seen employees discouraged from adding any input during production meetings, and simply told to shut up when being vocal about bad parts or processes. The thing is, this used to be the norm… Now, it’s probably the mark of a company that isn’t going to make it. Every takeover I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a few) has involved a shakeup of production systems, because everyone wants to force their own culture on the new fish in the pond. The thing is, going through every one of those instances in my mind now, I’ve never seen the production line workers being told to communicate line problems less, only more.

The other thing is, I’ve often been told by Japanese supervisors sent overseas (overwhelmingly in Asia) that the local workers act like Japanese workers used to act decades ago – with no voice and just doing what they’re told (which inept supervisors liked and smart supervisors realized was not sustainable).

 

My Kujira Crown in Pattaya in 1979?

I happened to be watching an 8mm home video of a German family visiting Pattaya in the late 70’s and spotted what could very well be my MS-60 Toyota Crown:

It seems to be the right color and model, and these cars were originally used for government bigwigs, so it’s possible that one of them parked it right in front of the Regent Hotel back then. I’m not sure of the number imported back then, but I’ve heard stories of a parking lot filled with old ones out of service. Wish I knew where it was!

The King of Thailand with a Nissan Cefiro A33

Some years ago, Nissan presented the King of Thailand, his majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej Rama IX, with the last Cefiro A33 produced in its one million unit production run in Thailand.

A good car for a great king. As a show of respect for his passing last year, we have also decided to let our beloved car go. A keen buyer has been found, and we say goodbye to our faithful ride this Friday.

Cefiro A33 Skyline Red Engine Lid Project

For the racing boy in YOU!! Custom paint job by Wattana Sound. Hand lettering accent by Yoshida Garage.

Catering to a younger demographic (the other kind of potential buyer, nostalgic old men who have wanted this car since it came out, might like it as well – the car bling runs strong in SE Asia) is hard work, but hopefully we can sell our trusty VIP ride very soon..