Profiles, Stories

Q & A With Modern Tao Ke Dr. Cecilio Pedro On Finding Opportunity In The New Normal

Dr. Cecilio Pedro is a distinguished entrepreneur, an advocate for the deaf community, an avid supporter of Philippine sports, and an active member of the Chinese Filipino community.

With his wisdom, confidence, and candor he has molded the Lamoiyan Corporation to become one of the country’s most trusted brands for household items. Thanks to him, we have Hapee Toothpaste and Dazz on our grocery shelves.

Like many Tao Kes, his business is affected by the current pandemic but as Lamoiyan Corporation’s President and CEO, he’s undoubtedly no stranger to the challenges economic crises bring.

Read how Pedro has adjusted Lamoiyan Corporation to fit in with needed changes amidst the ongoing pandemic in this Q&A from the Modern Tao Ke Webinar Visayas Edition!

Photo | Lamoiyan Corporation

Q: How did you start Lamoiyan Corporation?

A: In 1986 after producing [aluminum] tubes close to 10 years, [our company] decided to switch from aluminum tubes to plastic laminated tubes so I had to close the factory… and was left with so much inventory of tubes and machineries. Instead of throwing it away, all my equipment and my inventories of aluminum tubes, by the grace of God, we decided to put up a toothpaste company.

Hapee was born because of a crisis in 1986 and we started selling toothpaste in 1988, and today we are celebrating our 32nd anniversary for making people happy by using Hapee toothpaste.

Q: Would you consider COVID-19 as the biggest challenge to your business? How did it affect the operational structure and flow of your company?

A: We face different challenges everyday, it’s not just the crisis we are facing. COVID-19 is probably worse than any crisis I’ve faced so far because [it’s] worldwide [it’s not] only confined in the Philippines. It is really challenging because we are now facing recession world wide… This is just the beginning, the worse is in the coming days, weeks, months, and even years.

We continue to operate even during the shutdown because we are producing toothpaste, toothpaste is considered an essential, so we were not prevented from operating.

Having said that, it is very difficult for us [but] we also see a lot of opportunities. We started producing alcohol just two months ago. We are now selling alcohol nationwide. It is also a new business for us but because of the pandemic [there was no problem with producing alcohol] so whatever we produce we can sell.

[New markets will come from this pandemic, and opportunities in industries like farming are bound to happen] so I am going into producing my own papayas, my own bananas so that we can be self sufficient just in case in the coming days or months or years we will now be able to buy the essential food in the markets. 

Q: What are the adjustments that your company has been doing to really cope with this?

A: As far as the workers coming into the factory we tried to house them…They don’t have to travel so far. Those are the key adjustments as far as the workers are concerned. On the other hand [there’s] our relationship with our traders…we help our suppliers, we have to make sure that they are paid on time…in fact, if they give us a better discount we are willing to pay cash since we are quite liquid we can address their cash position or cash problems.

We are also cutting our support to supermarkets right now since the sales are not that big there. We have to slash some of our promotional support to maintain our cash flow, to make sure we are sustainable. The key is how to sustain the business in the coming days, months, or years. On top of that we look for new, as I said, alcohol and other products we are launching soon.

We also consistently provide the priority to the deaf, the hearing impaired as we call them. They are given the first crack in our company but they cannot travel so they have to stay in.

Photo | Lamoiyan Corporation

Q: What steps are you taking to make sure your business is as innovative as well as it is in the new tomorrow?

A: We have been involved online for quite some time already. [We’re part of Lazada and] other online platforms. The online supermarket products are not that big. Most people would still go to the supermarket to take a look at the products and then buy from the supermarket or from the stores.

I still believe the future will be online, more and more companies will join online and the cost would go down [since businesses don’t have to go through] the margins provided by supermarkets. The cost provided to distribute your products, to promote your products in the supermarket will now be passed on to the consumer. Eventually online will be the driver, online will become the supermarket and will take the place of supermarkets…

That is the key moving forward and many developed countries like South Korea, Japan, and even Singapore are now buying everything online including supermarket products, including necessities.

Q: Do you feel like COVID-19 has also changed the way you view the family aspect of your business in terms of succession? Will there be any changes in planning the company’s management within the next few months or years?

A: I was doing this succession I think 7 years ago when my son graduated from college and decided to join the company. Now he is completely in charge of [the company.]

My son is taking charge, however I just started another business as you said, farming, where I’m still in charge but that’s more my hobby but I like my hobbies and I think it requires succession. If not then I’ll just sell the products.

Succession is really the key, A lot of companies cannot transfer from the original owners to their kids because they were not prepared to handle the succession. I’ve been involved with some friends in succession discussions. [I said,] “the only way for your sons or your daughters to succeed you is for you to get out, [get out and don’t interfere, because if you interfere, they won’t be independent.”] I tried to exercise that to them to the max.

Q: How can SMEs survive the pandemic in the coming days and months?

A: The key is to first take care of your own people, they are your most important asset in the company, the people inside. [Whatever the case is, without your people, you wouldn’t have a business to start with.] The key is people, people, and people.

Of course looking into the horizon, you will face different challenges. For the time being you have to take necessary precautions, wearing face masks, washing your hands regularly, and maintain social distancing, avoid big crowds… You use your common sense to avoid contamination and avoid being affected by COVID-19.

And that sums up our Q & A with Dr. Cecilio Pedro!

The Modern Tao Ke Webinar Visayas Edition is an event under the Saludo SMEs Campaign and is second out of four webinars organized by Globe myBusiness together with CHiNOY TV. Through the Saludo SMEs campaign, and through this event, Globe myBusiness’ is equipping the Chinese Filipino community with the right knowledge and business solutions to rebuild their businesses, especially at this time where many Tao Kes are in the middle of reopening their doors in the new normal.

You can watch the full webinar here! Stay tuned on our social media pages for the next webinar set this July 2020!

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