Profiles, Taoke (Business)

Modern Tao Ke: Chris Ong on the Secrets of Sustaining a Business For 55 Years

Chris Ong

Several business leaders share their stories and advice in Modern Tao Ke, a special video series by Globe myBusiness. Hosted by Valerie Tan, the videos aim to provoke learning, inspiration, and connection among Chinese-Filipino tao kes.

For this episode, Chris Ong, Plant Manager of Baker’s Fair, shares the bakery business’ history, his early years in the business, and his journey of coping with the changes in the market before and during the pandemic. 

Here are some of his advice:

1. Learn from the people who came before you.

Founded in 1965 by Ong’s grandfather and uncle, Baker’s Fair started as a small bakery in downtown Manila. The business grew into a chain of outlets, multiplying in different key locations around Manila.

“As the third generation, I had to learn, pretty much, from my father and my uncles, to listen to them a lot,” Ong said. “I have to learn, not just from them, but also from the people that work there.”


2. Know the process.

During his early years in the business, Ong realized the importance of learning about the production process, which has eventually proven beneficial.

“When I started, I was tasked to do the production line,” Ong shared. “I had to ask a lot of questions before I could start teaching other people, so I had to learn why this oven setting was this way, why the mixing was done in a particular way, and before I could set up the things that I was tasked to do.”


3. Business is relationships.

Through his father’s example of leadership, moderation, and tempering his emotions, Ong discovered the secret to sustaining one’s business. 

“[My father] would develop relationships with people, not just people from the business,” Ong said. “Business is relationships, not just numbers and figures. So that’s what I learned from my father, and that’s what I’m trying to do with my own business.”


4. Focus on how the business can survive.

Ong encountered quite a few challenges, most especially during the pandemic, which affected more than 50% of Baker’s Fair’s sales.

“I don’t think you can say ‘thrive’ in this period,'” Ong said. “It’s more of how we can survive [through] the challenges we have right now.”

He shared that he was able to push forward when he acquired more customers through creating and expanding their sales using online platforms. Globe myBusiness helped provide them with quality service communications and internet connection when they took a huge step towards going online.


For more of Ong’s story and advice, check out the video below:


For more advice from modern tao kes, check out the stories of George Siy, David Leechiu, and Katrina Ong. We also talked to 5 CEOS on how their businesses survived the pandemic here.

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