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Business As Usual

Seaoil offers good business opportunity for returning OFWs

- Rose Dela Cruz -

For Eduardo Escalona and his wife, Ofelia, the gas filling station is an ideal business for returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) because the business is simple and easy to run and manage, it does not get spoiled like food and it is a basic necessity for all types of motorists.

It took time before the couple decided to invest in this type of business. They studied different options and attended seminars and trainings at the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) before selecting Seaoil Philippines Inc.’s franchise program in 2004.

The couple invested P4 million to put up a Seaoil station in Santol, Sta. Mesa, which they managed for two years. Even before the problematic lease could expire, they scouted for another site along A. Bonifacio in Manila — going to north diversion road, which is frequented by trucks, jeepneys, provincial buses and even cars and tricycles.

Seaoil helped them in getting settled in the new site, which turned out to be more busy than their former site. Now, they are almost recovering their P6 million (because the site is bigger and rental higher) and they are getting themselves ready to put up a second station somewhere in Metro Manila.

Escalona had been working as an engineer for many companies based in Saudi Arabia since the early eighties and his wife Ofelia joined him and worked as medical record assistant in 1992-1994 at Prince Salman Hospital in Saudi Arabia.

But while they were away, they always thought of getting into business eventually since they knew they would not be working abroad for the rest of their lives.

The couple’s A. Bonifacio station is a 650-square meter property with two pumps composed of 12 dispensers. The station sells G5Xtreme (premium) gasoline; unleaded and diesel along with oils and lubricants. They have more room for other business and are considering expanding the product offers next year to include tires and batteries.

As franchisees of Seaoil, they have flexibility to add non-competing products in their offerings such as convenience store or coffee shop and bakeshop; tires and batteries or even car wash, said Rey Jimenez, Seaoil’s brand group manager adding that Seaoil’s franchise package costs about P1.2 to P6 million.

From the gas filling station, which the couple views as a pasttime since they are both retired, they also put up a Shakes & Juices store in Makro Makati.

The couple’s two sons are both ship captains, earning more than twice what Escalona used to earn in Saudi Arabia as an engineer then.

Seaoil is now the leading independent oil player in the country— beating even the Big Three in their game by setting lower prices on their well-calibrated products and innovating in the use of ethanol and biofuels, long before they became mandatory under the Clean Air Act.

With its VIP card — which offers discounts to regular patrons— Seaoil is able to track its regular customers and their reasons for returning to SEAOIL stations despite the attractive promo programs of competing brands, said Jimenez.

Seaoil was the first independent oil company to open a gasoline retail station after the industry’s deregulation in 1997. It opened its 50th store in 2001 and is now at 154 outlets all over the country, of which 90 percent is franchised and 10 percent company-owned.

BIG THREE

BONIFACIO

CLEAN AIR ACT

COUNTRY

PLACE

SAUDI ARABIA

SEAOIL

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