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Seasoned cola drink dealer pours out secret to success

Flores (third from left) credits his success not only to the quality of RC Cola products but also, the strong, open relationship the management gives its dealers.

MANILA, Philippines - “Kung hindi ko ito mabenta, retiro na ako.”

Thus vowed Leo Flores, a seasoned soft drink dealer, whose years of experience in dealership has earned for him the trust of his customers. Although the words he uttered may be considered rather scary, especially in a market that is already dominated by a certain brand, Mang Leo, as he is fondly called, remained resolute. He believes that he would know a good product when he sees (and tastes) one.

So when Gerry Garcia, Jun Santos and Tony Panajon (of Asiawide Refreshments Corp. management, the licensed manufacturer and distributor of RC Cola products) went to his warehouse bearing cans of RC Cola, he only had one request: to taste the product first since it was ages since he last had a sip of the cola.

Mang Leo thus had his blind taste test, drinking ice-cold of RC Cola and the dominating CSD brand. Right then and there, Mang Leo got on board, proclaiming his promise to retire if he would be unable to sell the cola which elicited laughter from Asiawide management.

“Ok sa market, basta lumabas yung product, kaya ko ilagay yan (sa mga tindahan),” Mang Leo recalls having promised then in what would eventually be his life-long commitment. His basis: he believed in the product and the people behind it.

During that time, he also had this uncanny feeling that his life was about to change. “Siguro ang future ko andito sa Asiawide, pero sa loob ko lang yun,” he shared.

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Mang Leo thus became among the first batch of dealers who underwent initial talks with Asiawide. At the start, he recalls how some dealers tried to talk him out of it. But Mang Leo remained steadfast as he had already put his best food forward.

Convincing clients to try RC Cola became effortless, but competition beckoned and Mang Leo soon found himself in an ugly row with competitors who smashed his bottles. It even came to a point where he had to ask the assistance of barangay officials to intervene.

But as the adage goes, a good product will sell itself. Today, Mang Leo shares that his competitors have all become RC Cola dealers as well. A smart and honest business man that he is, Mang Leo credits his success to the quality of the products he sells and the strong, open relationship its management gives dealers.

“Ang kagandahan sa Asiawide, maasikaso ang management. Pinapakinggan ka nila, inaasikaso. Hindi pa man kami nagsisimula, pumupunta na sila dito. Isang tawag lang, andyan na rin sila. Naging kaibigan ko talaga. Hindi ko naranasan sa iba yun. Walang halong yabang, kahit malalaking tao sila,” remarks Mang Leo.

As one of the pioneer RC Cola dealers in the country, Mang Leo has done it all. It was a humbling experience, he notes. He was there when the Asiawide Antipolo plant was just being established, at a time when operations were still done manually. He started out as a one-man team, taking orders, delivering the goods using a kariton, before progressing with a bicycle. Now, he has multiple trucks and 20 workers to help cope with the strong demand.

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