By Jennylei Caberte (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 25, 2017 – 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — Twenty-five years is a milestone for any company and popular homegrown brand Fiorgelato is celebrating it by going global, a long-term strategy for the next 25 years to come. The man behind Milkin’ Corp., Ricardo “Richie” Z. Cuna, continues to lead the company’s charge toward global expansion.
Everything that Milkin Corp. has achieved is a result of the 25-year plan that Cuna has set in motion when he left a lucrative job as a banker to put up his company more than two decades ago. He worked tirelessly, even neglecting his health, just to make Fiorgelato a byword among Filipinos.
“Milkin Corp. would not have reached this milestone if not for the effort of the many men and women who have worked with me through the years to ensure the success of the company,” Cuna said.
The first Filipino gelato chef made everything look easy but the past 25 years was not just a walk in the park for him. Filipinos were completely unaware of gelato at the time he rolled out Fiorgelato. He also had to contend with challenges such as the brownouts and the Asian financial crisis.
But he found a way to address all these problems. So successful is the company that Cuna himself has lost count of the exact number of stores bearing the Fiorgelato name that have been put up in a quarter of a century of Milkin Corp.’s existence.
His hard work and dedication had almost cost him his life when he suffered a heart attack two years ago. Despite this, he is not slowing down and remains focused in bringing Fiorgelato outside the country – through Fiorgelato International.
To cap off the 25-year plan, Milkin’ Corp. launched its gelato ice cream brand Fiorgelato International under Milkin’ International Ltd, with its office in Hong Kong during its 25th anniversary and his birthday celebration on September 14 at the Grand Ballroom of Manila Hotel.
“For the next 25 years, we will strengthen and maximize whatever we have in Fiorgelato. The next frontier for Milkin Corp. is the international market, through Fiorgelato International” Cuna stressed. “2017 is the globalization year of Fiorgelato,” Cuna said.
Milkin’ Corp. later incorporated Fior Café with Fiorgelato, which has that novel concept of an original Italian gelateria which serves both gelato and freshly brewed coffee mixes together.
An academic and athletic scholar who graduated with Bachelor of Science and Commerce in Management and Marketing from San Beda College, Mendiola, Manila, and Business Administration from the Asian Institute of Management, Cuna is also a business developer and a franchise consultant, having studied Mini Masters in Franchise Development in Southeastern University in Florida, USA.
As it embarks on its global expansion, the company has thoroughly analyzed and studied the feasibility of Fiorgelato’s globalization. Coupled with Milkin Corp.’s international experience, Cuna said the opportunities abroad were simply too good to pass up.
“We are very happy because we are able to hit our targets. Milkin’ Corp. may have encountered challenges in the past 20 years but we were not distracted from our mission and vision,” he said.
Cuna shared franchising has been instrumental in growing his business. He reaches out to other fellow franchisers and aspiring entrepreneurs through his membership in various franchising organizations so he could help others achieve the kind of success he now enjoys.
“I want other franchisers to succeed. Of course, more franchisers and new business enterprises would also mean more jobs for Filipinos,” he explained.
“The next 25 years will surely be exciting not only for Fiorgelato but for the Philippines as well because another homegrown company – the Fiorgelato International – will conquer the world,” Cuna said.
*This article is copied from The Philippine Star as published in the newspaper on September 25, 2017, page B6 and can be found online at http://www.philstar.com/business-usual/2017/09/25/1742222/fiorgelato-gears-global-expansion