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90% of businesses are family-owned: Success tips from Oishi & Asean’s top fireworks firm

Xandra Ramos Padilla of National Book Store

Research in Entrepreneur magazine shows that only one third (30 percent) of family businesses make it successfully to their second generation, while only 12 percent make it to their third generation. Those trends are also echoed by Ateneo Business School and professor Enrique “Eric” Soriano, who has cited the so-called “third generation curse” worldwide, adding that statistics show “only three percent of all family-owned corporations make it to the fourth generation.”

Three percent! How can family businesses hurdle the usual challenges, such as maintaining family unity, upholding the entrepreneurial founder’s values, forging strategic vision and carefully preparing a succession plan for the next generation to take over?

What about the continued viability and competitiveness of the family enterprise, even if family members are united and motivated?

It is interesting that different family businesses have differing strategies and styles. I recall that brilliant JG Summit Holdings, Inc. boss Lance Y. Gokongwei — son of self-made business leader John Gokongwei, Jr. and whose mother Elizabeth Yu Gokongwei is from pre-war Manila’s Yutivo hardware clan — said his family’s clear rules forbid their in-laws from participating or getting involved in their family business.

On the other hand, based on my reading of history, the still family-run Ayala Group has actually been taken over and saved several times since the 19th century by capable in-laws, such as Antonio de Ayala, the Zobels and the 20th-century business leader Joseph McMicking. 

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Congratulations to National Book Store chain’s third-generation businesswoman Xandra Ramos Padilla, Cathy Tiu of Akari and Steve Cua of Welcome Supermart, who will give talks on how their family businesses attained and managed to continue their successes on Sunday, Dec. 10, 3 to 5 p.m. at the launching of Ateneo de Manila University professor Dr. Queena Lee Chua’s new book All in the Family Business at National Bookstore in Glorietta, Makati.

During this book launch, the Ramos family, the Tiu family and Cua family will be among 20 exemplary family businesses to be recognized. The public is invited to attend.

“Family businesses (fambiz) constitute anywhere from 80 to 90 percent of businesses in the Philippines, yet many are plagued with problems. But fambiz can succeed despite the odds,” said fambiz expert Dr. Queena N. Lee-Chua.

A great-great-granddaughter of the 19th century Philippine pioneer lumber entrepreneur and philanthropist Dy Han Kia, also part of pre-war Manila’s Lee Tay & Lee Chay sawmill family, Queena graduated summa cum laude from the Ateneo de Manila University with a BS degree in mathematics, before earning a master’s in counseling psychology and a doctorate in clinical psychology from the same university. We are second cousins; her paternal grandfather was the younger brother of my paternal grandfather.

Her doctoral dissertation became the book, Successful Filipino Family Businesses, which was published by Ateneo University Press and which garnered the Outstanding Monograph Award from the National Academy of Science and Technology.





Queena serves on the board of several schools, government groups, civil groups and businesses, including on the board of the Ateneo Family Business Development Center. She has garnered many awards, including the TOYF (The Outstanding Young Filipinos), the TOWNS (The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service), the OYS (Outstanding Young Scientist), the Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Teachers Award, the Department of Science and Technology’s Great Men and Women of Science, the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, and the Catholic Mass Media Award.

CFO of the Year 2017

After a nearly half-a-year search, Dutch financial giant ING Bank and the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX) recently honored Ayala Corporation’s chief finance officer (CFO) and chief sustainability officer Jose Teodoro “TG” Limcaoco with the prestigious ING FINEX “CFO of the Year” Award. Congratulations!

TG is one of the finest, most honest and humble finance experts in the country, a graduate of Stanford University and University of Pennsylvania. I personally dealt with him years ago on a real estate property matter; he was fair and very capable. His family also owns the Luzon Development Bank.

300 fireworks entrepreneurs thank Duterte for allowing pyrotechnics

The 300 members of the Bulacan-based Philippine Fireworks Association (PFA) led by president Jovenson Ong, owner of Dragon Fireworks, gave the Philippine STAR an exclusive interview to thank President Rody R. Duterte for his “very fair” Executive Order No. 28 which only restricts firecrackers to designated places but allows nationwide use of pyrotechnics anywhere and anytime.

PFA thanked Duterte for allowing the local fireworks industry, which provides livelihood to over 150,000 people nationwide, to survive. They are appealing to local government units (LGUs) nationwide to follow EO No. 28 instead of mistakenly banning all fireworks, clarifying that the safer pyrotechnics are only used for light effects — or “pa-ilaw” in Tagalog.

San Rafael town’s municipal administrator Jun Sevilla said Dragon Fireworks is based in San Rafael town of Bulacan province and has grown to become ASEAN’s biggest fireworks manufacturer with plans to export. Its owner Jovenson Ong appeals to police, Bureau of Customs and retailers to help the local fireworks manufacturers to stop the proliferation of illegal smuggled fireworks, especially the very harmful piccolo fireworks.

The success secrets of Dragon Fireworks? Jovenson Ong shared: “Hard work, and building up a reputable brand based on consistent good quality and integrity.”

Oishi taipan Carlos Chan said brother Bench founder Ben Chan is ‘more talented’

At the Okada Resort farewell dinner of the ASEAN Business & Investment Summit organized by Joey Concepcion, seated beside me was Oishi snack foods taipan Ambassador Carlos Chan who is the Philippines’ very hardworking special envoy to China and advocate of normalizing our ancient friendly bilateral ties.

During our dinner conversation, I asked him to describe his younger brother, Bench fashion brand founder Ben Chan. Ambassador Carlos Chan said: “My younger brother Ben is more talented than me, he started his own popular brand and his own enterprise, while I inherited our father’s business and built it up by going into snacks manufacturing. Ben studied in the US and is also quite artistic.”

Asked for his success secrets in building up a multinational snacks food conglomerate Liwayway firm with the brand Oishi, which is also very successful all over China as shang-hao-jia, Ambassador Chan said: “Consistency in good quality, integrity, hard work. It is also very important to pay attention to details and be hands-on in management.” Ambassador Chan also said he is very bullish about the future of the fast-growing Philippine economy, especially with the independent foreign policy winning over all the world’s big powers as our friends and trading partners.

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