Toni Darmawi got into the imported alcoholic beverages trading by coincidence, but he still takes it seriously. He is constantly learning and striving to improve. In 1995, he started working for an imported alcoholic beverage distributor and is currently the CEO of PT Pancaniaga Indoperkasa, an importer of alcoholic beverages with a significant presence in the Indonesian market.
By Maximillian Samuel Puji
E: How did you get into the industry
A: I began my career as a forex trader, but my workload seemed to be never-ending. I considered changing careers and a friend offered me a position in the company where he worked. When he asked if I knew “remi”, I thought he meant the card game, but he actually meant Remy Martin, something that I had never heard of. To cut a long story short, I ended up working as a sales representative for an imported alcoholic beverage distributor. The year was 1995.
I moved to Bacardi after roughly a year and a half, where I learned a lot and was also mentored by others in my environment. Then, in 2008-2009, Pancaniaga Indoperkasa became the smallest alcoholic beverage importer in the country, and now, over a decade later, we currently play a key position in Indonesia.
E: Are there still opportunities for someone who wants to follow in your footsteps as an alcohol distributor?
A: Of course, there is still a lot of room for growth because there are so many brands to explore. Each region has its own distinct beverages. Many customers have also been educated on how to enjoy alcohol responsibly, and the demand for a variety of premium beverages continues to rise.
People used to believe that drinking alcohol was just a way to become drunk, but perceptions have shifted, and consumers are now aware that these drinks are made with great care and designed to be enjoyed. Alcohol has become an element of both lifestyle and tourism. What matters is that you have a passion for something and the urge to do well.
E: Is it possible for Indonesian consumers to appreciate and become aware of indigenous alcoholic drinks?
A: Yes, of course. There are many kinds of native alcoholic beverages in Indonesia, such as arak Bali, sopi from Nusa Tenggara Timur, or local brands like Batavia Rum and Cap Tikus. All of these beverages have the potential to be transformed into a tourism gimmick. Unfortunately, many native alcoholic beverages are not produced in a controlled environment and do not meet industry standards. Arak Bali is currently undergoing standardisation. Consumers today are also wiser in enjoying alcohol. They sip it by the glass or mix it into a cocktail in a sophisticated manner. Our company also plays a role in educating consumers, not just selling alcohol.
E: What strategy did you implement in your company during the pandemic?
A: Every person, every company, and every industry has been affected by these situations. Nobody has a manual on how to manage it. Many businesses were forced to shut down. Our company could endure because of positive thinking and constant evaluation on how to move to maintain sales. We launched several more stores, created an internet store, and directly contacted customers.
Personally, I believe that maintaining a positive mindset is essential. As a leader, I must set an example for everyone in the organisation. I also embraced Nike’s tagline, Just Do It, because, as I previously stated, if you don’t do anything, you won’t get anywhere.
E: What personal qualities do you possess that will enable Pancaniaga Indoperkasa to continue to grow?
A: I started working in this sector in 1995, and after 27 years, I’m still learning. I always remind myself that if other people can do it, so can I. If I have to work harder, I will. All humans are the same, what makes one different from another is hard work and commitment.
PT. Pancaniaga Indoperkasa