86 Years of Service Excellence

- Lester Dizon () - March 31, 2004 - 12:00am
"Would you still need me when I’m sixty-four?" sang the Beatles. But how about when you’re in your eighties? What would you do when you reach, say, eighty-six years? Well, if you got the dough, you’d get a face lift, a tummy tuck and renewed vitality.

Mantrade Development Corporation, the multi-awarded Nissan dealer in the Makati Automotive Row (2278 Chino Roces Avenue formerly Pasong Tamo Extension), did just that. As the country’s oldest operational automotive company celebrates its 86th anniversary tomorrow (April 1), Mantrade boasts of a new look and a new attitude that conforms to the worldwide revitalization of the Nissan brand image.

The dealership’s face lift is both attractive and inviting, beckoning car buyers to take a look at the line of fine Nissan automobiles on display in the showroom. Its signage proudly displays the new Nissan logo and lends a fresh new look to the buildings façade while providing immediate recognition to passing motorists. Mantrade’s aesthetic improvements, along with the well-trained sales and service staff, emanate a youthful vitality that belies the company’s vintage and its vast experience.

When Mantrade was constrained to move from its landmark location at the corner of Pasong Tamo and EDSA almost ten years ago, many of its competitors predicted that the company would soon fade into oblivion. It was then faced with the gargantuan task of moving its operations from its own 13,000-square meter building to a smaller 10,037-square meter property (ergo, the tummy tuck). But by December 1994, it had settled down to work, and provided its customers the expected efficient service from its decidedly leaner operation. While there were several problems encountered during the transition, like the service interruptions during the construction of the service department, these were eventually rectified and later improved.

Yours truly was working for Mantrade as their Fleet Supervisor and Sales Trainer during those fateful months. It was heartbreaking to see the automotive giant leave its landmark, where it had been since 1973, as it was also challenging to adapt to the new location and the then on-going construction while struggling to meet our targets as well as meet our customer’s expectations. In spite of the odds, the sales team, especially the fleet group which I was heading, was driven to excel by the then sales manager Herbert V. Tan and vice president for operations Mila A. Marcaida. (Tan recently became the VP for operations when Marcaida retired in February 2004.)

Fortunately, the company drew from its vast experience to battle the odds. Unknown to many, Mantrade started as Manila Trading Company in 1906, engaged primarily in general merchandising business, with bag making for copra and rice trades as one of its most profitable lines of operation. In 1915, it expanded into paint and paint materials, bicycles and pharmaceuticals, but concentrated in the Ford automobile business in 1920 after getting the franchise in 1918. The Great Depression of the 30’s and the two World Wars gave Mantrade crippling blows, but it always stood back on its feet.

From 1955 to 1968, Mantrade figured as one of the largest corporation in sales volume and corporate tax payments, and in 1967, its automotive assembly operation was taken over by Ford Philippines, Inc. In 1968, First Manila Management Corporation (FMMC) assumed ownership of Mantrade, which was then Ford’s No.1 Dealer in vehicle sales, parts and service and remained so until 1984. FMMC entered into a joint venture with Nissan Motor Company in 1982, and transferred ownership of Mantrade to Genasia to avoid a conflict of interest between Ford and Nissan.

After Ford left the Philippines in 1984, Mantrade became a Nissan dealer and worked its way up with the new car brand. It has since accumulated several awards from Nissan Motor Philippines (NMPI) and Universal Motors Corporation (UMC) for vehicle sales, parts sales and service excellence and has consistently bagged the Top Dealer in Sales Volume award from NMPI from 1994 to 2003.

Under the leadership of Kurt S. Bachmann, Jr., the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer since 1995, Mantrade has been true to its company motto: "After we sell, we serve." Bachmann stated "Other car companies and dealers have collapsed under the weight of our unstable local economy and the competitive demands from the emerging globalization, but Mantrade has remained steadfast and true. We shall remain focused on attending to our customer’s needs because we believe, as we always had, that customer satisfaction is our top priority."
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