Damian Salvetti Thamrin, Faye Louise, and Olivier Salvetti: Working their way up to become the number one importer and supplier for the hospitality Industry.
People become achiever by achieving their goals. To become an achiever, one must give their goals sufficient attention to reach, attain, and accomplish. Achievers are the people who, despite the objections and failures that they encountered, will achieve anyway. They never stop, no matter how difficult the challenge to reach the top.
This month, The Peak had the opportunity to interview three achievers, namely Damian Salvetti Thamrin, Faye Louise, and Olivier Salvetti of Putra Surya Internusa. The siblings share their journey and struggle, as well as how far they have come to achieve their business goals and becoming successful entrepreneurs.
Starting from Zero
Putra Surya Internusa, founded by Damian Salvetti Thamrin in 2012, has grown from a small start-up to one of the most rapidly emerging importer and suppliers for the hospitality industry in Indonesia. Today, the company partners with prestigious brands from around the world to bring a one-stop solution for businesses in the industry. Currently, they have more than 400 customers from hotel groups, resorts, and restaurants across Indonesia. Regardless of these achievements, the road to success was not a straight line.
Damian started the company without any budget, company profile or brand portfolio. After working for more than a decade as a car wash attendant, car salesman while attending University, and marketing for a local bank, he decided that he no longer want to work as an employee. Damian believes that his working experience paved the foundation to become an entrepreneur with financial support from his former client.
“To have a successful business foundation we need a solid financial, sales, legal and administration team,” Damian explains. “Luckily the three of us have a different set of skills. I’m good at administration and legal, while my sister and brother are strong in marketing and sales, so we support each other,” he adds.
Together with his sister, Faye Louise, and younger brother, Olivier Salvetti who share the same ambition and work ethics, they started their company with the ideology of serving the customer in the best way possible.
“We don’t have the luxury to choose the product to distribute for our company. We just do it. Whatever opportunity in front of our eyes,” says the oldest sibling as he reminiscing his journey from the beginning. “We have no money, so we borrowed 7 million Rupiah to registered the company and booked a flight to Penang for a meeting. At that time we don’t have anything, not even a budget to buy the product,” Damian recalls.
When they first started, they were offered to become a distributor to sell LED lighting. Damian and Faye presented their initial proposal only with their CVs. As luck would have it, their honesty was able to capture the attention of the company’s president who trusts that they will work hard to achieve their targets.
However, their first break didn’t deliver as expected. Although they were given much ease to distribute the product, it turns out that it was difficult to sell because they have to compete with cheaper Chinese-made brands.
But no matter how difficult the obstacles that they faced, they never gave up to achieve their goals. The hard work attitude was nurtured since they were young. Both Damian and Faye were emptional when they shared a story of the past. In the 90s they came from a well-off family, but when the monetary crisis hits home in 1998, the family was bankrupt.
“My mother said that since we already experienced the comfortable life, to maintain that life, way we have to work hard,” Faye recalls. “My brother is the one who always has the ambition to build a company, for me as long as I have a job I will do my best. With that attitude I was given a lot of opportunities and learning experiences from my previous employer,” she adds.
According to Faye, coming from a completely different background from her major in University, doing Sales and Marketing was a learning process for almost a decade. She started her career as a designer, then become a sales manager, and sales director.
“My first job with a bachelor degree only pays 10 thousand Rupiah per hour, then I got a job that pays 3 million Rupiah a month but I was practically living in the office. My brother and I all went through the same phase in life at that moment,” Faye says.
After failing to sell LED lighting, they needed a new strategy. Since Damian and Faye spend a lot of time at the bars, the bartenders often request for bar tools. From there they started reselling products requested by restaurants and bars. But since the profit was low, it didn’t cover their overhead cost. After the second year, they owed 2 billion Rupiah in debt.
“One day we were offered the opportunity to distribute Riedel, the wine glass brand. Although it wasn’t an easy job to do, considering most of the products in the inventory are exclusive, what matters is they believed in us,” Damian says.
And all of the hard work paid off. After three years as a reseller, in 2015 the company was trusted to be the importer of one major brand in the F&B business. With the ambition to disrupt the outdated style of selling in the industry and great supports of the F&B community, the company started to set new trends and carrying quality equipment and brands.
“We have a tight bond in our family. For us, family comes first. It never crossed my mind to be in the hospitality industry, until when my brother asked to help the company,” says the youngest sibling who returned to Jakarta in 2014 after completing his education in France. “When we have the distribution of our iconic brand Riedel, which is the first brand that shows us to the world, I saw that we have a good opportunity to succeed,” Olivier adds.
Olivier is in charge of the business in Bali. In the beginning, he went door-to-door to sell products, but as time goes by he met people, attended events, and soon enough he was able to build the network that opens more doors.
“My brother puts his faith in me, and the only thing that he asked is for us to do our best. The result will come when we put our efforts. That is one of the foundations and values of our company,” Olivier notes. “We have one secret weapon, which is my sister. She has really good relationships with the bartenders, so we have the tightest connection with the community. That is why we have bartenders making cocktails, giving a presentation, educating and at the same time presenting our products at exhibitions. We are the first one with this concept,” he adds.
According to Damian, Riedel is the one product that leads the company to where it is today. Nowadays, other hospitality brands approached them to be in the catalog.
Since importing and distributing several brands, the annual growth of the company is up by more than 100%. In 2017, they managed to pay off all of their loans.
Today, the company have more than 15 major brands as exclusive importer and distributor and targeting to carry 20 brands by the end of 2019. They partnered with clients such as Ismaya, Union Group, 5-star hotels, and many more.
“We are still a young company and still learning about ourselves in the industry. We are still improving but the ambition is there, we want to be the number one player in the category. We believe in ourselves, we believe in the brands, we have the right partners and the support from the community so everything is in place,” Olivier concludes.
A Culture of Giving Back
According to Faye, the meaning behind the company’s name, Putra Surya Internusa, is nurturing young Indonesian with potentials to be able to shine. She wants to share with others not to be afraid to start a company or reach your goals even though you don’t have the money, as long as you have the work ethic.
The company is not only working for profit but also the warfare of their employees. She believes this value will assist to gain the trust of the employee, investors, and customers.
“One of our intentions to established this company is to allow people in need. Most of our employees are only high school graduates, but as long as they are willing to learn and motivated, they will succeed,” says Faye. “Some are ready to become branch managers and some can continue their education. If they have the desire to advance their skills and knowledge we are more than happy to help. We want to give them the opportunity,” she adds.
“We won’t be here without the support of the people who put their faith in us. Thus, we are willing to give back to others with education, training, consultation or anything that they need,” Damian concludes.