This is the acceptance speech of snacks tycoon Carlos Chan, founder of Liwayway Marketing, during the virtual awarding ceremony as MAP Management Man of the Year 2021 on November 22, 2021. MAP stands for Management Association of the Philippines, a business group.
Thank you very much for this recognition. I’m extremely honored. This is an award shared by our stockholders, management team, our employees and most of all our customers who believe in us and our products.
This is truly a pleasant and positive development amid a difficult and challenging time in our world and in our country today, experienced by our fellow Filipinos and all of us gathered here today. Indeed, the challenges of the COVID19 has not been easy, but as MAP’s theme for 2021, “The Great Reset: Leading for the common good” states we persevere and we keep on moving forward, not just for our business, but for ourselves, our families and, most of all, for our country.
Liwayway Marketing is no stranger to difficult times. Looking back we started shortly after World War Two, when the country was rebuilding from the ruins. Liwaway started as a small family business selling ground coffee and corn starch by my father Mr. Chan Lib, a native of Fujian province who moved to the Philippines in 1914. My father bought laundry starch in bulk from the importer and repacked them into smaller packages, and ventured into reselling these products in public markets, some with the label Liwayway, Tagalog word for “dawn”.
The business flourished and was incorporated as Liwayway Marketing Corporation in 1966. The company soon ventured into the distribution of candles. It was managed by my younger brother Manuel, after the other siblings left the family enterprise to put up their own businesses. One of them is Ben Chan, who founded Bench, a popular Philippine clothing brand.
In 1974 Liwayway Marketing bought a Japanese food processing machine and began making prawn crackers and flakes, which it marketed under the Oishi brand, the Japanese word for tasty or delicious. Liwayway’s factory was initially leasing in Bulacan, but they eventually transferred to a new site in Imus, Cavite for bigger space and capacity. It was in Cavite where the flavors were introduced, and Oishi became one of the country’s well-known snack food brands.
However, the extremely volatile political situation in the 1980s made it difficult for our company to grow. Liwayway started to grow during the 90s under the administration of former President Fidel Ramos.
After hearing the pledge about economic liberalisation in China, I went there to check the prospect of business. I took advantage of the economic reforms implemented in China under the leadership of Deng Xiao Ping, and I entered into cooperative joint venture with two state-owned companies that allowed me to lease their warehouses.
It was a big risk to enter a foreign market at the time. We encountered numerous challenges in penetrating the Chinese market, but continuous hardwork paid off. Oishi soon became well-known and was named “Shanghai famous brand” in 1996. After [we were] recognized in China as “famous brand,” in 2001 I thought of expanding the business to other key cities like Harbin, Kunming, Suzhou, Xinjiang and Zhengzhou, all in a span of five years. I went simultaneously to Vietnam and Myanmar, and later into Asia’s emerging market like Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia.
Liwayway also tried to explore other uncharted territories outside of Asia, as it built manufacturing plants in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2015. We were the first Filipino company to invest in this region.
Without losing focus in the Philippine market, we also built satellite production facilities in Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao, Cebu, and Iloilo in Visayas, and Tarlac province to serve the central and northern Luzon region.
Our shares in Mindanao grew more when we put up our plant in Cagayan de Oro. This means you are developing an advantage when you put up more distribution points in various regions.
Our continued effort to improve our products with aggressive marketing made Oishi a popular snack food, able to compete with the best in the market. It gave Liwayway pride to bring Filipino products to grocery shelves in other different parts of the world, with the newest addition and production pathways in Tashkent in Uzbekstan and Dhaka in Bangladesh.
In recent years I also have been bringing a JCo donuts franchise to Manila which now has over 50 branches in the country.
The strong work ethics, dedication and support of everyone had given success to all our endeavors throughout the years. We great pride, I must share this award honor and success with my beloved wife Pricilla, who is my inspiration and stead. She stood by me during the most challenging times of our business. More importantly, she holds the strings and the pulse, which without doubt is crucial in the success of a business.
I also owe it to my children who unselfishly support and give their best talents and effort for the company to grow, prosper, and compete in the global market. My children Carlson, Archie, Rinby, Larry, Oszen and Shera are living proof that the third generation can very well continue and grow a family business started by the first and second generation. My wife and children are my priceless treasures. And I thank God for blessing me with a wonderful family.
Businessmen usually start small, although they can always dream big. As they say no dream is considered big. But no dreamer is too small either. You must work hard, be humble, be patient, persevere, and always stick with your core values and principles.
We now face difficult times because of the pandemic. But I know that Liwayway Marketing will survive because of the perseverance and strength of heart of everyone in the company. We will remain steadfast in our commitment to achieving our goals towards the progress of both the companies in our country.
May this award serve as an inspiration to everyone in the company and to every Filipino to dream and move to greater heights.
This award is not an end but our guiding force to pursue more. Thank you very much more power to MAP.