Business As Usual

L.C. Big Mak: For the love of burgers

- Ralph Fajardo -

MANILA, Philippines - For successful entrepreneurs, the language of love is the best ingredient there is. Francis and Edna Dy, the couple behind L.C. Big Mak, shows that between the burger buns, is a patty full of love. It all started when they met in Lucena City. After hitching their wagons, they decided to settle in their hometown and establish their family roots. An entrepreneur even before Edna came into the picture, Francis thought of starting a hamburger mobile van outlet. “It just entered my mind. I don’t like to cook, but I love eating,” he says.

Edna, a businesswoman in her own right, supported her husband’s flash of creative juices. “I experimented and made my recipe from scratch,” she says. And that’s how they set out in 1984 – years before foreign fast food giants made it to the shores of the country. L.C. Big Mak started to provide their community with a taste of the American dream – albeit catered to the Pinoy taste buds.

“At that time, the burgers were priced at P3.00,” says Edna Dy. “There was a long line in Quezon Avenue,” she laughingly recalls.

L.C. Big Mak was fast becoming the burger for the everyday man. “People in the far provinces would shop in Lucena and make it a point to pass by for a burger,” says Francis Dy. “They wanted to try this American dish they see in the movies.”

The second van came in a few months – in less than five years, there were 200 outlets spread out in the towns of Cavite, Rizal, Bulacan, Tarlac, La Union, Ilocos, Isabela, and Cagayan. Today, they have more than 800 mobile van outlets along national highways all over the country. “Sometimes you would see Ifugaos in their traditional bahag costume lining up for burgers during a store opening,” shares an amused Francis.

Despite the birthing pains, the husband and wife team took things in stride. “We would wake up early in the morning, do the marketing for the day, and start with the cooking,” says Edna gamely. “We had only one meat grinder, and we used margarine caps as molds for the patties,” Francis laughingly recalls.

As the number of van outlets multiplied, the Dys knew they had to invest in expanding systems and operations. “We hired food consultants, invested in technology, and created an R&D department to standardize the products,” explains Edna.

It was successful. The improvements doubled the sales almost instantaneously.

Additional items were also introduced in the menu. “You have to be creative – you have to introduce new products – continue to innovate. We have other items such as hotdogs, pizza, siopao, siomai, and we introduced value meals,” says Francis of the present line up.

But the daily average sales kept growing and the volume needed to be met. Unfortunately, the local industry couldn’t keep up. The Dys made the decision to import their meat from other countries that could sustain the huge orders.

Instinctively, they knew that they had to hold off with the stand-alone stores until systems for bigger operations are perfected. “We have twelve branches nationwide for now,” says a patient Francis. “But there are plans of expanding,” he reveals. Of course, there were rough storms from time to time.

Despite the busy lifestyle, the Dys make sure that family time is never sacrificed. “We have vacations together, and we go to church as a family,” says Edna. They have three grown-up children who all have the entrepreneur gene in their bloodline.

Perhaps what makes the Filipino entrepreneur stand out is the love for family – and keeping that as the main drive to succeed. It is a priority that has also trickled down to their employees, “It’s the malasakit for the other person, your employees,” explains Edna. “We were able to help a lot of people with this business”, her husband adds. The employment and training benefitted the local residents, and the Dys now also leads in social activities in the community. “We have a lot of apos (grandchildren) here in L.C. Big Mak,” says Edna warmly.

Their relationship with Plantersbank is another example of family. “We’ve been with Planters since 2002,” muses Edna. “We started with a savings account and customized checks, and we’ve been growing with them ever since,” adds Francis. “When you need them, they’re there.”

Love for their community, their Lucena City roots, and great love for family keep the business together. It’s this regard for all things they hold dear that inspired the name of the business. L.C. stands for Lucena City, and the Mak is in honor of Francis’ parents, Maxima and Kimsuy. What does the big stand for but big patties, buns, and big savings for the regular Pinoy. After 27 years, L.C Big Mak, and the couple behind it, shows how big love can transcend all difficulties. In fact, it’s the meat in all things.









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