Dr. Pedro on faith, hope, happiness
By KIM BERNARDO-LOKIN, Manila Times
IT was an unlikely yet pleasant place for an interview. As we walked into the office, there was the unmistakeable spirit full of youthful energy that one can only find in schools—”happy and full of hope.” Indeed the perfect setting to listen to the story of Dr. Cecilio Pedro, the founder and president of Lamoiyan Corp., makers of the famous Filipino toothpaste brand Hapee.
By now, many are mostly familiar with the story of how he faced a major crisis in his business and turned it around. Still, his is an inspiring success story to tell and one that continues to drive other entrepreneurs to bravely face their own challenges in the hopes of finding their own successes as well.
Lamoiyan Corp. is presently the largest Philippine manufacturer of toothpastes under the brands Hapee & Kutitap. It also holds the distinction of being the only local toothpaste to take on the biggest multinationals and still make it as the third preferred brand in the country today. The company has also expanded from personal care to other household lines, such as Hapee Kiddie Toothgels, Gumtect, Dazz Dishwashing Paste and Liquid, Dazz All-Purpose Kitchen Cleaner and Licealis.
But few people know that Dr. Pedro actually started his entrepreneurial skills way back in Grade 2, where as a boy, he started selling ballpens to his classmates at the St. Mary’s Academy. It was also where he learned his first lesson in business, that “credit is not always good” and that “cash is king.”
He said that after graduation in 1975, he went into business right away by putting up a hardware store with his cousin. It was in 1977 that they went into manufacturing. Dr. Pedro recalls that at that time, they were looking at three options: “it’s either we go into the sanitary laundry business, softdrink bottling and making tubes for toothpastes.” By now, we of course know which path he eventually took.
Lamoiyan Corp. actually started as Aluminum Containers Inc. The original company started as manufacturers of the aluminum collapsible toothpaste tubes and was the major supplier to huge global brands such as Colgate-Palmolive, Procter and Gamble and the Philippine Refining Co. (PRC) now known as Unilever.
In 1985, these companies shifted to the use of plastic laminated tubes. As a result, Dr. Pedro was forced to close his factory down. Faced with the dilemma of what to do with his old equipment, he decided that there was no other way but to put up his own. Thus, two years later, he reopened his factory under the name Lamoiyan Corp. and brought out his own Hapee toothpaste in the market.
Admittedly he said, rebuilding a failed business venture is difficult enough to do, but fighting the “goliaths” in the industry was the real challenge. He succeeded because he focused his strategy on “affordability” which appealed to the most to the price-conscious Filipino consumers.
In late 2004, he decided to expand further to neighboring Asian countries such as Vietnam, China and Indonesia. His goal is to be able to transform Hapee toothpaste into one of the leading brands in Asia. This venture also enabled him to double the size of his factory’s manufacturing capacity. His mission, he added, is for the company to become a major player in the personal and household industry.
As a result, he and his company had gotten many awards in recognition of his numerous achievements not only in the field of traditional manufacturing, but also in the way he does business. He was able to successfully merge his personal faith and advocacies into his businesses, such as the hiring of hearing-impaired persons in his factory.
Besides running his businesses, Dr. Pedro said that he devotes most of his time to his advocacies as a way to give back and “strengthen his faith.” He currently chairs the Deaf Evangelistic Alliance Foundation Inc. (DEAF) which helps provide free college education to poor but deserving deaf-mutes. He added that he had recently successfully sent seven students to Korea on scholarship grants.
During the interview, we asked him just how many other organizations he is helping or involved with in various capacities at the moment, and he said that he’s helping around 18 organizations, including seven schools. Dr. Pedro added that he is also now an “elder” in their church and as such ministers to his congregation in his free time. But he also shared with us that one of the things he wants to do upon reaching 65 years old is to find more time “traveling and talking to people.”
But until then, he said that he wants to continue doing what he does. What he did not mention when we asked for an interview is that he is now wearing an additional hat. It was only when we went to his new office that we found out he is also the new principal of the Hope Christian High School in Binondo, Manila. Dr. Pedro said that he’s always been thankful to be given the chance to help educate and form the young minds of today’s youth. He excitedly told us more about their current mission for the school to continuously innovate and embrace technology in their learning methods, and we were equally happy to hear it. But that will be another day, another story. Suffice it to say that in Dr. Pedro’s eyes, life can be the story of faith, happiness and hope.
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