Written by: Stef Juan | Photography: Jervy Santiago
Life is a journey and things never stay the same. And that’s a good thing. Small things grow. Our feelings change. We learn as we go along.
For CEO and President of Prime Pacific Foods Corp. Euclid Teng, what started out as a small side business became a decade-long journey filled with challenges, learnings, and growth.
The hard way
Working in the food industry looks deceptively simple from someone who has never worked in it. How complicated could it be? Food is essential, most people love it, and if you have a good product, it should be easy to move. Euclid would likely laugh at that thought while shaking his head.
After ten years in the business, Euclid knows that it’s not as simple as it looks – like most businesses do, once you get deeper into it and grow it. “We had to learn the ropes the hard way,” he shared.
Prime Pacific began as a sideline. Euclid was still studying legal management in De La Salle University when his brother invited him to join them in this new fast moving consumer goods distribution enterprise. “It was actually an advantage for me that I was studying in school because I was in touch with a lot of stalls,” he said. The majority of their early clients were around La Salle so Euclid made his deliveries before his classes.
“Prime Pacific didn’t start out as a company to earn, it was a company to lose,” Euclid said. They started it to import and sell through another company his brother started. It started out small. “We started to sell well. A lot of distributors looked for us to be their wholesalers. From there, some principals of bigger companies noticed us and got us as local distributors.”
At first, they only knew about the food and the selling price. “We didn’t know about the reality,” Euclid candidly shared. “We had to learn through experience — especially the bad ones. And experience takes time.” They encountered problems at every step of their growth — from financial to human resources. They had to learn on the job.
“The next time I’m going to invest in any business, I think research and understanding the business are the key things I should do before diving in,” Euclid continues. I learned a lot of lessons through experience with Prime Pacific, but I don’t think I’d want to have to go through those experiences again.”
But all those challenges and experiences are worth it. Now, Prime Pacific has evolved to a full-service importation and distribution company that brings in top-quality food ingredients from world class suppliers to popular food establishments. The company now employs 120 people. Their products include frozen pancakes, chocolates, french fries, plant-based food products, dairy products, and sauces.
From like to love
After college, Euclid didn’t join Prime Pacific full time, even if at that time, the company was already a local distribution company. He had dreamed of being in the financial markets so he worked in a stock brokerage firm for a few years. Then he went back to Prime Pacific in late 2013 to help and to grow the business.
“Though food is part of everyone’s lives, it’s something that you shouldn’t take for granted,” Euclid said. “When I came back, I started liking the business, and now I love it. Perhaps it’s because of the different products that were coming in and we got to sample them. That appreciation for food soon grew into me.”
Euclid likes to cook so he has tried out most of their products. He particularly likes their frozen egg tart shells because he actually makes egg tarts. He shared that as much as possible, he eats plant-based meals at least five times a week, and it’s been good for his health over all. “These are the things that make me love the business more.”
After ten years with Prime Pacific, Euclid thoughtfully reflected on his journey as an entrepreneur. “When you’re in the trading business, it’s like being in war,” he said, of the lessons he learned along the way. “There will be multiple failures along the way. Always try to use those failures to improve yourself. Don’t let them pull you down.”
As for his goals, “It all starts with wanting to earn. Of course you want a business that would give you income in return,” he admitted. “But over time, you get to love the business. And from wanting to earn, everything changes. You want to grow — to expand your product line, to hire more people, and to serve more clients. It becomes about fulfillment. It becomes fun too.”
And fulfillment is what success looks like for Euclid. “That’s success,” he continued. “Money, happiness, and enjoyment.”
As for aspiring entrepreneurs, Euclid shares this advice from his well of experience. “Know what you want to do. Know the business. Study it and try to understand it. See if you really like it. But what’s important in any business or profession, there will be failures and challenges, just use them to do better later. Understand why the failure happened in the first place. Always try to improve. Everybody fails, even the best of us.” So just keep on going.