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Scott Duncanson

Scott Duncanson, General Manager of ISS Facility Services, and one of Phuket's best-known competitive yachtsmen, tells how he set sail for Thailand 20 years ago and never looked back.

Where are you from?
Adelaide, Australia.

When did you move to Phuket?
I came to Phuket in 1999, after living in Chonburi since 1991. I was only 24 when I first moved to Thailand.

What made you decide to come and live here?
There was a recession in Australia in the early 1990s, so my father, a shipwright by trade, opened an office and manufacturing plant in Chonburi, making commercial and military ships for the Thai navy and oil rig supply vessels for export. I worked with him initially, then I worked for three years as an instructor of computer-aided design at a technical college in the port city of Laem Chabang.

I moved to Phuket when I had an opportunity to set up a new branch here for the large security services company Securicor (now G4S). After training in Bangkok I drove down to Phuket, carrying the company furniture on my truck, and opened the office. After some seven years I moved to PCS, a property and facilities management company, before moving to ISS Facility Services last year, where I also set up a new branch in Phuket.

Tell us something about your business.
ISS is a global company and in Thailand alone it has 23,000 staff. I opened the Phuket office in June of last year and we now have 350 staff. We provide security for 18 airlines at Phuket International Airport and provide cleaning, pest control and security services for a number of resorts and properties all over the south, including the Marriott and Le Meridien. We're working to expand our network in the south and an office in Samui is opening soon.

How does doing business in Phuket compare to back home?
The major difference is that here the answer to many things is to add more people. This will soon change, however, if the minimum wage increases promised by the new government go into effect. ISS is facing a 40% increase in costs starting next year. We've been proactive in issuing letters to customers to start to look at ways to reduce manpower to keep costs down.

Whereabouts do you live in Phuket?What determined your choice of location?
I live in Parlai. I like this area because it's close to my lifestyle, Chalong pier for sailing and the Ao Chalong Yacht Club, and it's also close to my office on the bypass road in Phuket City.

Do you own a house or do you rent?
I have been renting a house but just recently we put a down payment on a new three-bedroom house, also in Parlai. With our expanding family we needed a bigger place.

What kind of car do you drive? Why?
I drive a 10-year-old Nissan pick-up truck, perfect for pulling my boat trailer. My wife drives a Honda Civic, which we use for family outings.

What do you like most about living in Phuket?
I love the weather, and Thai was my favourite food back in Australia and remains so today. I also love Thai people. If you're an expat manager you have to like Thai people or you're not going to do well. I think coming to Thailand at a young age gives you a better chance of success at living here and managing a business. When you're young you're more open to different ways of doing things. It's harder to adjust when you're older.

What's the most frustrating thing about living here?
I've been here so long I don't find anything frustrating! But if I had to say one thing, I do find the attitudes of some drivers here annoying, especially now that I have children. They have no respect for other people's lives, let alone the rules of the road.

Tell us more about your family.
My wife, Cattaleeya, or 'Cat', is from Bangkok and we have two sons aged four and seven months. I met my wife when we both worked at Securicor.

What do you think the future holds for you?
Fame and wealth, hopefully! More realistically, I just want to stay healthy enough to keep working, keep the kids in school, and keep sailing. The thing about sailing is that it's a sport you can do until you drop dead, and that's what I plan to do.

How do you evaluate success?
For me, success is earning the respect of people around you whether it's in business or social life. Certainly not money – I'm happy just having enough to be comfortable.

You're active in Thailand's competitive sailing scene. What have you been up to lately?
The last regatta I did was the Platu Cup in Pattaya in October. There are four of these events a year. I raced in July's Phuket Raceweek – I've done them all since the beginning. This is my favourite race because the conditions that time of year make for more exciting sailing, and it's also a professionally run regatta. We won this year's Phang Nga Bay Regatta on my Phuket 8 sports boat, Somtam Express.

What else do you do with your free time, if you have any?
Nearly all my free time is spent with my family and sailing or sailing related activities. I'm a race officer for the Ao Chalong Yacht Club, organising its fortnightly races. Together with a friend, I recently bought a one-man Laser boat, which is small enough to handle by yourself or with the kids. It's the perfect boat for a father and son.

For further information about ISS Facility Services Co., Ltd.
117/9 Moo 5, Tambon Ratsada Amphur Muang, Phuket 83000
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