Tubong lugaw

BUSINESS and LEISURE - Ray Butch Gamboa - The Philippine Star

There’s this expression in local parlance that would describe a business enterprise with returns that far exceed its meager investment—“tubong lugaw.”           

Well, in our continuing search here on Business & Leisure for interesting features to share with readers of this column or viewers of its online counterpart (www.businessandleisure.ph) with the end view of inspiring, encouraging, or simply to entertain, we came across a business enterprise that fits this description to a “T” and even literally at that.

 Lugaw Republic, which now has over 200 outlets nationwide spanning from far northern Luzon to Mindanao, started off as a small kiosk in SM Marilao in Bulacan.

It was founded by Bienvenido M. Cruz Jr. or “Benjo” who previously finished two courses in college: B.S. Nursing in Our Lady of Fatima University and Banking and Finance at the University of the East. Having finished two full courses, one would imagine that Benjo would end up in the corporate world. However, Benjo probably was born to be an entrepreneur because he went the working route, but earned and saved enough as an OFW to go back home and go into business for himself.

He started by acquiring a franchise for a food mart which was not doing bad when an opportunity presented itself—a vacant slot at SM Marilao for a small food kiosk.

Although he had some funds from his food kart franchise, coupled with the savings he had accumulated from his OFW days, he did not plunge into the business just because he had some capital and there was a space waiting for him. He wanted to be sure that he had the best product for the market he was venturing into.

His research brought him face to face with his future customers, which was decidedly the “masa” market, those who want a hot filling meal that does not cost an arm and a leg. The casual employees, PUV drivers, students and those who want value for their money comprise a big sector of our economy, and the young entrepreneur knew that. And so, lugaw or rice porridge it would be.

There are quite a few ambulant vendors selling the lowly rice porridge and this driven young businessman knew that for his product to stand out he had to show his customers that having a satisfying, affordable meal equals hygienic and healthy as well. So he decided to present his lugaw in a very professional and hygienic package, even going the extra mile of not using washable dishes and eating implements, instead all disposable, not reusable.  

Lugaw Republic, we learned from Benjo, did not become successful overnight. At first, business was slow, but as time went by, those who tasted his centuries-old Pinoy comfort food kept coming back. By word of mouth, his customers increased steadily. His mantra for his lugaw is masarap, mura, malinis.

And because he has not faltered or gone easy in the way he conducts business, he makes sure that his loyal customers, those who form the core of his business become fixtures in his often queued up lugawan. 

Another major factor behind the success of his food enterprise is franchising. Having started only in 2005, and now with 200 outlets almost all over the country, Benjo has gone a long way as a franchisor.  His franchisees must be really contend with how Lugaw Republic is doing because he has several of them with multiple stores, one even having as many as 15. Of the 200 nationwide, 70 percent are franchises.

The very popular lugawan offers the most basic: plain lugaw, goto, arroz caldo, tokwa’t baboy and the street food known as kwek kwek.

The former OFW, who didn’t want to go back to being employed, has a word or two for the start ups, “…believe in your instinct, seek family support and believe in the Lord Almighty, but keep in mind to do your best always and GOD will do the rest.”

For now, Mr. Bienvenido M. Cruz says, his goal is to make Lugaw Republic the most successful food cart business in the country.

B&L leans to digital

Next month, October, Business & Leisure’s digital platform (www.businessandleisure.ph) where you can also access this column, will carry all the features of its TV counterpart, which we are temporarily shutting down for a possible change of design and format.

Your weekly window to the world of business and guide to the good life shall dish out online the usual highly informative and entertaining features such as: Business Movers, which spotlights the profiles of local business luminaries, Diplomatic Row centering on the present sitting ambassadors assigned to the country, CSR featuring the meaningful and relevant projects of local companies that seek the populace’s way of life, Proud Pinoy that puts on center stage Filipino businesspersons who have brought our business ingenuity to the world, Strictly Business, which dwells on budding business enterprises and, of course Places the always much-awaited and watched segment that focuses on leisure and lifestyle destinations that our country offers.        

Check us out on the web.

Mabuhay!!! Be proud to be a Filipino.

For comments (Email) sunshine.television@yahoo.com

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