Tag: member news

Learn to let go of control—and more lessons from the bikers behind Potato Corner

By Rhia Diomampo Grana
Published online by the Abs-Cbn News, October 2, 2019

Don’t kid Joe Magsaysay with “Sir, pa-Vespa ka naman” for he might just take it seriously. JoMag (as he is more popularly known in the business circles), founder and Chairman Emeritus of Potato Corner, is a huge motorcycling enthusiast, a sport he fondly shares with the other owners and directors of the company.

“They are the type who would go to Caliraya riding their bikes,” says chief operating officer Dominic Hernandez (Dom for short), who joined the company three years ago. When JoMag arrived at the office riding his new motorcycle (currently, he has a total of 25 bikes), Hernandez and two others jokingly asked for a Vespa scooter so they could join their weekend rides. The following week, they got the biggest surprise of their life because parked at the office were three Vespas for them to ride in.

Business-wise, Magsaysay has learned to think strategically, rather than tactically—that is, providing advice and guidance to Hernandez and the management, when needed.

Riding bikes may seem like a mere pastime for JoMag, but according to him, it speaks of the Potato Corner character, the important entrepreneurial lessons he wishes to impart—being adventurous, spontaneous, and free. This mentality has apparently worked for the company over the past 28 years, with one of the country’s largest conglomerates recently offering billions to buy it. “My hope is that these values also translate to the way they do business,” he quips.

Learning from the legend

Hernandez, whose family operates Victory Liner, a top-of-mind bus company in the country, admits Potato Corner was a huge change agent for them. “We’re a very traditional and conservative group,” he admits. His family now holds majority ownership of the flavored French fried brand. “We have been in the bus business for the past 75 years and we’ve never really aggressively diversified. When we invested in Potato Corner, we saw a different world. We realized it’s good to have a different perspective on things.”

Dom, whose family operates Victory Liner, one of the reputable bus companies in the country, admits Potato Corner was a huge change agent for the Hernandezes.

Running Potato Corner opened their eyes to the advantages of building a team of professionals, as opposed to keeping it within the family. Investing in the brand made them realize that if they hire professionals, train them, and take care of them, they will take care of the business the way a family does.

Hernandez feels fortunate to have been under the tutelage of Magsaysay from whom he learned the value of openness to change, especially in the age of digital economy. The former points out the challenge of running 1,400 stores, 900 of which are franchised. He says they there is a need to strike the right balance of maintaining the company’s values and being open to improvements and innovation.

“You don’t know where the risk is going to come from—there are data hacks, there’s the weather, there’s the economic crisis, all of these things are beyond our control. But whatever we can control, we try our best to elevate the level of service that we can give to the consumers and to our franchise partners,” Hernandez explains.

Hernandez intends to take care of the business the same way Magsaysay has for the last 28 years. “I never call them employees; I always refer to them as my officemates,” he says. And by treating them like family, he also means supporting their growth through continued education. “Taking good care of your people is important. Without the people, the business will not prosper.”

Magsaysay shares his realization: “Dom will never be like me. I cannot make him like me. He is his own person. I have to realize that all I can do is tell him what I used to do and what Potato Corner used to be. He is his own man and I’m fine with that.”

From Magsaysay, Hernandez also learned about maintaining a positive outlook amidst challenges and failures. “The big doesn’t beat the small in business, it’s the fast that beats the slow,” Hernandez says, echoing what Magsaysay told them. “So we always have to be fast-changing, fast-adapting, fast-learning but never afraid to try.”

Passing the baton

Magsaysay served as an executive for fast food company Wendy’s for 10 years, and helped grow Mister Donut from 200 to 800 stores. For someone who’s accustomed to do tactical planning, he admits it was initially difficult for him to let go of control. But life has its way of teaching him the hard lessons—he had to undergo five brain surgeries, possibly exacerbated by biking.

“During the scan, my doctor found out that I had a broken neck; it healed by itself but not properly. Then, one injury I sustained through dirt biking most likely caused this hole in my skull, which probably caused the brain infections that led to hydrocephalus. They placed a tube in my skull to get rid of the pressure on my brain,” he reveals.

“My horizon is very short. I only live a day at a time. Before, I used to dream about five or ten years from now. Now, I just want to live for today,” says Magsaysay.

His first brain surgery made him realize that it’s time to surrender to his Creator, it’s time to let go, that he’s in control of his life anymore, that it’s time to let people take care of him. “I wasn’t used to being taken cared of. I was used to doing things, running things myself,” he confides. “So I dreaded those two weeks when I had to stay in bed, I wasn’t allowed to move, and someone had to clean me.”

He recalls that even before this life-changing event, his personal mentor had already advised him to prepare for retirement; he was 54 years old then. “My mentor told me, ‘You have six years before you’re 60. Why don’t use these six years as your runway so that by the time you’re 60, you’re not running anything, you’re just being taken care of by the companies that you invested in. So I followed that.”

He admits having survived five brain surgeries not only left a scar on his head but also led to a change in mindset. “My future is just one year in advance or even less because I don’t know what will happen to me. I might have another brain surgery. I might have another seizure or I might die tomorrow. My horizon is very short. I only live a day at a time. Before, I used to dream about five or 10 years from now. Now, I just want to live for today,” he says.

Magsaysay’s collection of motorcycles.

Business-wise, he learned to think strategically, rather than tactically—that is, providing advice and guidance to Dom and the management, when needed. From the beginning, he recognized Dom’s strength in terms of operations, because of his background in running QSRs (quick service restaurants). So, knowing that the company is in good hands gives him peace of mind. “[From the beginning] I knew that we’re on the same page—we understood what the stores and operations needed, so I was comfortable immediately with Dom.”

Magsaysay also feels that the infusion of younger people like Dom to the Potato Corner’s workforce comes at a perfect time as it brought a new stamina and dynamism to the company. “For me, letting go of control is the best thing that I’m doing for Potato Corner. I’ve known the brand for 28 years, so I might be wrong already. The brand needs to evolve so that it can stay relevant for the next 28 years.” He decided to retire and finally cut ties with the company last August.

The former Potato Corner honcho shares his realization from his many talks with his psychotherapist and friends helping him to move on: “Dom will never be like me. I cannot make him like me. He is his own person. I have to realize that all I can do is tell him what I used to do and what Potato Corner used to be. He is his own man and I’m fine with that,” he says.


Photographs by Chris Clemente
This article is written by the Author in the by-line and was originally posted by Abs-Cbn News in their website which can be accessed at https://news.abs-cbn.com/ancx/culture/spotlight/10/02/19/learn-to-let-go-of-controland-more-lessons-from-the-bikers-behind-potato-corner


Corner of success

Published online by the Business World, September 24, 2019

JOSE MAGSAYSAY JR. had scant corporate knowledge and experience when he started Potato Corner with his partners.

But through sheer determination and hard work, he built Potato Corner to one of the leading brands in the fast food industry.

His first foray into the industry began after he dropped out of college to work in a hamburger chain to help his mother with the household finances. In 1992, his brother-in-law suggested that they start a business selling flavored french fries to make money on the side.

They soon opened the first Potato Corner kiosk in one of Metro Manila’s biggest malls. This fledgling startup’s first office was his mother’s house and their first filing cabinet was her old oven.

It took considerable time and effort for Mr. Magsaysay and his partners to get the company off the ground. He recounts, “Most of us had no experience working in a corporate environment so it took us a long time to learn how to run a company. We had to learn the function of the board, shareholders and CEO.”

By learning through experience and experimenting with a franchising business model, he and his partners were able to open 120 Potato Corner stores by 1997.

As Potato Corner grew, Mr. Magsaysay eventually had to decide between his full-time job at the hamburger chain and Potato Corner.

Being a risk-taker, he chose the latter and left his stable job as a district manager.

To this day, he stands by his decision as he advises entrepreneurs that, “If you want to succeed in something you want to do, you better cut all your lifelines. If you have an option to always go back to something, you’ll never do your best.”

After five years, Mr. Magsaysay decided to try his hand at new things and left Potato Corner to become the general manager of a donut chain. He also returned to school and earned his master’s degree in entrepreneurship from the Asian Institute of Management (AIM). As he was about to graduate from the AIM, the Asian Financial Crisis hit and Potato Corner stores dropped from 120 to less than 40.

Refusing to give up on this venture, he returned to Potato Corner armed with a five-year multi-business plan where he rationalized operations and cut costs to preserve cash flow. His plan also included streamlining the company’s processes and operations by developing systems aimed to strengthen its supply chain. He worked with business consultants and third parties to create solutions for the company’s issues.

He also transformed the company’s culture into a more open and collaborative environment by boosting morale and fostering a sense of camaraderie among employees and management. He says that he strives to find a way to work with the people he hires and integrate them into the system of the company.

Potato Corner bounced back under Mr. Magsaysay’s leadership and became a staple fast-food kiosk in malls and schools. From the remaining 40 kiosks, they have opened over 1,000 stores in 11 foreign markets today.

Mr. Magsaysay credits the company’s success to its easy-to-get franchise model which makes business ownership accessible, creating a whole community of budding entrepreneurs. He claims that their franchisees get the best and highest net profit margin because they do not require royalty fees. At present, 80% of the company’s stores are franchises, including its foreign outlets.

Another example of a bold practice is their strategy of setting up stores overseas. Unlike their competitors, Potato Corner does not locate its stores abroad near Filipino communities because they believe that fries are a ubiquitous and well-loved snack. Through this approach, they have opened over 200 stores in Indonesia, Panama, Australia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Singapore, Vietnam, Kuwait and the United States.

Despite the company’s considerable success, Mr. Magsaysay and his team refuse to be complacent in today’s challenging business landscape. He explains, “As an entrepreneur, you’re always pivoting, on the edge, and playing a running game.”

One of the most significant challenges is being one company with one brand that sells one product. To address this challenge, Cinco Corp. is diversifying its brand lineup with different products through Halikinu, its subsidiary company, which sells products like shawarma, goto and barbecue that cater to different market segments.

Mr. Magsaysay has big plans for his micro-business as he envisions Cinco Corp. to be the leading kiosk operator in the world with 5,000 stores within the next five years.

What began as a venture to earn extra money has evolved into an enterprise which aims to create, develop and empower entrepreneurs. Not only does Mr. Magsaysay train his franchisees, he also mentors his employees and encourages them. “I want all of you to pass through and graduate from Potato Corner as my business partners.”

He is determined to continue this even after his retirement by investing in start-up businesses as a way of giving back and empowering aspiring entrepreneurs.

Mr. Magsaysay is a maverick and has broken and bended rules in the fast food industry and the best practices set by his competitors. His ability to think out-of-the-box has earned him several accolades such as the AIM Alumni Achievement Award, Asia CEO Awards Entrepreneur of the Year 2016, the Association of Filipino Franchisers Galing ng Pinoy! Award, PLDT-SME MVP Bossing Award and the Franchise Excellence Hall of Fame Award.

A true disruptor in his field, Mr. Magsaysay believes that completely dedicating time and effort to one’s craft can lead to success.

His advice to would-be entrepreneurs is to “Master one thing only and do not think about the money. As soon as you master your craft, people will want to be your partner.”

This article is originally published by the Business World which can be accessed online at https://www.bworldonline.com/corner-of-success/

Miss Pure Nectar

Published online by the Manila Bulletin, September 22, 2019

Fruit Magic started in 1993. But my dad (Allan Escalona) began to manage it in 1999. Of the three of us, I was the one who was most involved with the business back then. It was very challenging, because my dad was (still is) the president and CEO. But I had him behind me all the way.

When I joined the business in 2014, I was only 23, I was assigned to the marketing department. So my job was super simple. I was tasked to create new designs for the business and improve our menus.

As I started to get more involved, I realized there were so many things I wanted to change. Apart from our HR services, I also wanted to revamp the store and make it more Instagrammable. That was also the year food delivery apps and fitness were on the rise. I remember talking to someone and they were serving around 500 customers a week. I was shocked. If I could tap those 500 people with just one brand, I could produce 500 bottles a day and I’m good.

But making Fruit Magic easy to deliver was among the toughest challenges I encountered. Our products were fruit shakes served in cups. We decided to put the shake in bottles, and it was a failure. The bottle exploded, the taste was compromised, and, worst, the juices had a short shelf life.

So we did our research and flew to the U.S. We learned that there was a proper way of preserving fresh fruit shakes—through cold press juicing. We studied it and brought machines to make our products ready for delivery.

In 2015, I established Pure Nectar.

This was the advice given to me before. You really have to look for something you have a competitive advantage on. My family is in the business of producing healthy beverages, so it makes perfect sense for me to create something along those lines.

Why should I venture into a shoe business if I don’t have the skills for shoemaking, the equipment needed, and the people to work with? If I’m going to start from scratch, then I’m not really ahead of the game. It’s going to be much harder for me to set out on this path.

“The biggest advantage of mature entrepreneurs is that they’ve been through a lot.”

I knew I needed to look at the feasibility of things in order for them to be attainable.

Another thing is that it’s important for me that my business should reflect who I am. One must go for things one is passionate about. It’s so hard to fight for a brand, build it, and grow it if you’re really not into it. I work out a lot and the business fits my lifestyle. So when people meet me they say, ‘Siya si Miss Pure Nectar.’ I didn’t plan that. It’s just that I really enjoy it, the fitness and wellness aspect of it.

So when you get into something, you really need to love it, because if don’t, everything is going to be irrelevant and meaningless.

To be a great leader, first and foremost, you have to be a great team player. You must learn how to earn the trust and respect of your team. Also being a leader is not measured by the title he or she is holding. A good leader should know how to listen well.

I think the biggest advantage of mature entrepreneurs is that they’ve been through a lot. I’m very lucky that my dad is here. He brought me around. We would go to lunches with his peers. It was fun because they gave me insights that helped me in the business. For me, the older generation is now more accepting of Millennials playing the game. There’s no discrimination, as long as the product is selling.

From a very young age, I’ve learned the responsibility of ownership and that’s the thing that has set things apart. Many kids these days will just get by for the sake of getting by. At a very young age, we were taught by our parents that we should work hard. Picking up that mindset has been a good training ground for all of us siblings. All of us now are into business. People ask us, “How did you jump into that?’ We owe it to our parents who have shaped us throughout the years until it comes naturally to us. We might have disagreements over budget and all, but in terms of the end goal of leading the business to a good place, that’s where we’re in unison.

This article is originally published by the Manila Bulletin which can be accessed online at https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2019/09/22/miss-pure-nectar/

Generika, beyond business and competition

By Nazarene A. Leyco
Published online by the Business Mirror, September 19, 2019

Generika Drugstore has become not only the champion but also the cornerstone of the retail drugs industry in the country over the last decade, leading the movement in introducing highly affordable drugs with the same clinical care, efficacy and safety for all the Filipino people.

As it gears for brighter and successful years ahead, Generika goes beyond the common goal of acceptance and availability of affordable but quality medicines, and now seeks to provide a total health care for all Filipinos.

Though it may seem a Herculean task for the entire organization, Generika would like to reach out to Filipinos who are in the far ends of the country, and need access to affordable and quality medicines while, at the same time, help the government in taking care of the health and well-being of every Filipino.

Since Generika has a strong alliance—AC Health, which has been on top of everything since 2015—the goal of building a synergistic ecosystem that links every patient to a seamless health-care experience is making it happen in areas where they matter especially with FamilyDOC, a new chain of community-based primary care clinics, that is providing communities with doctors for their immediate health services.

“While there is a huge market, of course, in the key cities like NCR, we want to tap provincial cities also. We still want to make ourselves available and present in rural areas because we believe also that once we take care of these communities, our country will be better, too,” said Generika President and CEO Dino Francisco.

Generics medicines are usually priced at 70 percent to 80 percent more affordable than the branded medicines, however, the sad truth is most of us don’t really appreciate the contribution of generic medicines in our household.

Sharing his insights on this, “We want to think that Generika is the silent partner of every household in budgeting their income. Imagine, if you are spending at least P5,000 for your maintenance every month for branded medicines, when you buy generics, you can save up to 80 percent that is P4,000. This amount could go a long way, it could be used to pay other bills or for food,” Francisco said.

Generika started 16 years ago with a vision to provide every household access to affordable and quality generic medicines and, ever since, the company has never, in any way, been swayed to walk away from this vision. Since its inception, Generika has been very aggressive in its information education campaign to raise awareness about generic medicines, and as it grew, Generika is even reaching the far-flung areas in the country, which other drug companies don’t want to tap.

Though it may seem ambitious and silly, Generika has successfully grew its number close to 900 branches all over the country, a large majority of which is distributed strategically in Greater Metro Manila but before a new decade begins, Generika Drugstore is hoping to open at least 100 more branches, especially in the provinces to bring its count to a thousand and widen its areas of coverage.

Expansion for any player in the industry seem auspicious at this moment as the generic drugs industry is at a high level of marketplace competition now with prices of medicines continues to dive. The development of more generics over the years also contributed to the expected dive of generic drugs, making them more attractive than ever to consumers who are on a budget.

Competitors have capitalized on this to make more profit, Generika, on the other hand, sees this progress as an opportunity to better its service to the publics. The success it has gained over the years has evolved the entire organization into a more service-oriented enterprise rather than a money-raking entity. While it recognizes the fact that it still needs to make an income as it pays thousands of employees, but its not putting a premium on the wholistic care and services it can provide to the customers.

As it celebrates its 16th anniversary this month, executives of Generika vowed to expand by saturating the country with more outlets and offer quality affordable medicines with the same clinical benefits one gets from an expensive or branded medicine.

“Regardless of whose administration we are in, we have our sights on long-term goals to truly serve the public, especially the poor people, the most important thing is determining where we can we help them and the nation at large,” Francisco stressed.

He admitted that while Generika and the rest of competition strive hard to demystify wrong connotations about generic medicines, there is still that reluctance and distrust in the clinical value from certain segments in the market that creates a gap between them.

This gap is specifically extant in the communities in the provinces where there is lack of access to health care in terms of doctors, medicines and medical services.

With the expansion that Generika hopes to achieve, it does not only seek availability of affordable, safe and effective drugs for all ages, but a complete health care that comes with professional services, facilities and continuous education.

“One of the continuous challenges is the education, second is acceptance of generic medicines. We need to be consistent on acceptance, and you can’t separate education from acceptance,” Francisco said.

Francisco explained that every time a patient is prescribed with 500 grams paracetamol by his or her physician, the patient would almost automatically assume that it is an expensive brand.

To hurdle this widespread obstacle in the industry, Generika, as part of its education campaigns, is creating awareness to its customers through Generics Awareness Talks conducted by its pharmacists.

Generika also intends to capitalize on the wonders of digital technology and make its presence felt online. The company was the first drugstore chain in the country to offer electronic gift check for medicines called the “MEDPadala.”

“Another part of the innovation we have implemented is the Generika loyalty program known as Mobile GeneriKard, which hopefully will transform us into a leader in loyalty program using mobile devices or gadgets, which allows our customers to earn points for their medicine purchase even without the physical card,” Francisco quipped.

With numerous programs, innovations and developments to give its customers better services, Generika is still looking at releasing new products for its house brands—Actimed and Nutrawell.

“Actimed Generics is our house brand for chronic illnesses, maintenance medicines, prescription and we have the OTC [the over-the-counter drugs]. Nutrawell, on the other hand, are food supplements. It’s not for therapeutic care but it is something to aid the patient to enhance the well-being of the person. We have, for this house brand some vitamins, food supplement that are organic, natural. Probiotics is one of the perfect examples,” Francisco expounded.

He added that one of the utmost concern of the Generika is the safety, comfort and convenience of their customers, and to assure their loyal patrons, the Generika has been renovating its stores to its new look with wider and better customer service or selling area.

“We don’t want our customers worry about other things, so we make sure that all of our stores have a selling area wherein they can securely and safely transact their purchases,” Francisco stressed.

On top of all these, Generika Drugstore reiterated its beliefs that affordable, safe, effective and quality medicines should be available to every human being and made them to understand the kind of drugs they are buying and taking in at the same time, and the choices available in the market.

Furthermore, to reward its loyal patrons, Generika Drugstore, for its 16th anniversary Generika will be holding a simultaneous Nationwide Libreng Konsulta. Aside from the Libreng Konsulta, Generika will be giving away two Volkswagen Santana sedans, 13 motorcycles and 13 Sodexo GCs worth P5,000 each for its 16th Anniversary Promo.

This article is originally published by the Business Mirror which can be accessed online at https://businessmirror.com.ph/2019/09/19/generika-beyond-business-and-competition/


Ronald McDonald ‘Bahay Bulilit’ opens doors for Davaoeño children

Manila Times 2 Apr 2018

RMHC Bahay Bulilit Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony with Margot Torres, Barangay Captain Ramon M. Bargamento II, Ronald McDonald and Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio

RMHC Bahay Bulilit Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony with Margot Torres, Barangay Captain Ramon M. Bargamento II, Ronald McDonald and Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio

STRENGTENING its commitment to help more Filipino children, McDonald Philippines, through ronald McDonald House Charities (rMHC), has turned over a new ronald McDonald bahaybulilit Learning Center to the residents of barangay Mintalthe first in Davao City.

In partnership with the City Social Services Development Office (CSSDo) and the local government units, rMHC provides communities a safe and fun place where young children can learn and play. The ronald McDonald bahaybulilit will be open to about 70 children agez two to five with two sessions taking place per day accommodating up to 35 children each.

“We are happy to have the first ronald McDonald bahaybulilit in Davao. We hope that inside the learning center, the young children of barangay Mintal will get a head start in learning the basics, preparing them for formal schooling,” said Margot Torres, rMHC vice president and McDonald’s Philippines executive vice president and deputy managing director. With every ronald McDonald bahay rMHC Philippines closely works with local government units such as the City Social Services Development Office of Davao to be able to identify key priority communities in need of a learning center for children.

*This article was copied from and was originally published by Manila Standard in the newspaper on April 2, 2018. It is also available online at: