Lifestyle Business

Lamoiyan/Hapee, 25 years of business & CSR success

BULL MARKET, BULL SHEET - Wilson Lee Flores - The Philippine Star

Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.  â€” Napoleon Hill

A distinctive homegrown consumer brand in Philippine business, Hapee toothpaste and its founder Cecilio Kwok Pedro is this year celebrating the brand’s 25th anniversary, not just of flourishing business, but also of diverse civic undertakings through their strong corporate social responsibility (CSR). Apart from strengthening its market share locally, Hapee plans to continue expanding overseas.

A Christian entrepreneur who passionately believes in private business with a social conscience, Cecilio K. Pedro has supported the international non-governmental organization (NGO) Operation Smile Philippines to care for children afflicted with oral cleft. His factory is unique and noted for employing a lot of hearing-impaired people.

Lamoiyan Corp. has also donated dental equipment and supplies to the newly inaugurated Manila Cleft Care Center in Sta. Ana Hospital, Manila City.

Cecilio K. Pedro has also donated various public school-buildings to poor rural regions of the Philippines through the “Operation: Barrio Schools” project of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII), of which he was in March elected one of this civic and business group’s new vice presidents. 

Humble beginnings of a well-loved Philippine brand

Like Jollibee in fast food and Bench in fashion, Hapee has become a progressive homegrown Filipino brand competing directly with top multinational brands. How did this brand and product start 25 years ago by seizing an unexpected business opportunity?

The prime mover behind Hapee toothpaste is entrepreneur Dr. Pedro, president and chief executive officer of Lamoiyan Corporation. He started out in the 1970s as an aluminum toothpaste tubes manufacturer to the multinational firms.

In 1985, the multinationals started changing their toothpaste packaging from aluminum to plastic tubes, so Pedro was stuck with industrial equipment but no customers, plus a stockpile of aluminum tubes. Faced with this crisis, he decided to venture into toothpaste manufacturing with affordable Hapee and Kutitap brands. Lamoiyan, the firm name, came from the name of Pedro’s beloved grandmother, a gesture of filial love.

Like a David challenging the well-established Goliaths who have for generations cornered the local market, Pedro changed the dental care landscape in the country by introducing his own locally-made, world-class quality and affordable toothpaste brand as a new alternative.

How did Dr. Cecilio K. Pedro come up with the brand name Hapee? He said: “Initially, the brand I chose was Smile because when you brush your teeth, you are supposed to smile. When you frown, it becomes difficult to brush your teeth. And when you smile, you look happy.”

However, Pedro discovered that the brand “Smile” had already been registered and owned by a multinational company. He nevertheless came up with another brand name with the same positive mindset and cheerful disposition, which best describes the feeling of people who smile.

“I thought ‘happy’ did not seem suitable as a brand, so I changed it from ‘h-a-p-p-y’ to  ‘h-a-p-e-e,’” Pedro explained.

The choice of “Hapee” as brand name was deemed by marketing observers as “a stroke of genius” due to its easy and positive brand recall in the Philippines and eventually in several foreign markets as well.

Social mission: Offering affordable Filipino brand for basic dental care

The 25-year journey of Lamoiyan Corporation and Hapee toothpaste has been historic and fulfilling. Dr. Pedro, his dedicated team of executives and employees competed versus the multinationals with innovations, marketing initiatives and consistent world-class quality. They envision Hapee to be at par with multinational brands.

Why such optimism about the prospects for Hapee toothpaste? Pedro believes that Filipino consumers are ready for a good-quality Filipino-made toothpaste as an alternative and affordable brand.

National University (NU) College of Dentistry dean Dr. Joseph Dy Lim of Dr. Smile Dental Center at Podium Mall told this writer that one of the social problems of Philippine society is the large proportion of urban and rural poor who do not have adequate dental hygiene practices and basic dental care services.

The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) Board of Dentistry chairman Dr. Steve Mark G. Gan of Gan Advanced Osseointegration Center (GAOC) also said that much can still be done to improve accessibility of basic dental care nationwide.

Pedro said: “We introduced world-class quality toothpaste at affordable prices so that many Filipinos can afford to brush their teeth regularly. We found out that many Filipinos, especially in the provinces, could not brush their teeth because toothpaste and toothbrush are expensive. That dream pushed us initially and we were not afraid to face the multinational companies because we believe there is this need to help Filipinos, especially those belonging to the poorest of the poor.”

For entrepreneur Pedro, his business has a mission to help improve the people’s quality of life through affordable and good dental products, and his employees share his sense of mission for the past 25 years. 

“Every year we survive the competition thrown at us and we celebrate each happy moment. Every day that I wake up I consider it a happy moment, thanking God for giving me another day. There are so many challenges and difficulties in this world but it really depends on how you look at life. For me, we are so blessed as a country and as a people. We are fortunate here in Lamoiyan Corporation and we tell the world that yes, we can survive and we can compete with the best of the best in the world,” he said.

Corporate social responsibility as part of Lamoiyan & Hapee DNA

Under the idealistic Dr. Pedro, corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Lamoiyan Corporation is considered an intrinsic aspect of the company’s DNA or reason for existence. He said: “Here at Lamoiyan Corporation, we are fueled by our corporate philosophy which is to make a difference for the glory of God.”

One of the admirable company policies of Lamoiyan is its hiring the hearing-impaired, who make up about 30 percent of their total workforce and who receive equal opportunities. Proper attention and training are given them. He said: “I call them angels sent by the Lord. When I see them, I’m happy because they were provided by the Lord.”

Pedro further elaborated on Lamoiyan’s experiences with the hearing-impaired: “We have very good experiences with the hearing-impaired as they are always among the top performers. It is quite good to note that every year, around six or seven of them are in the Top 10 best performers. It is indeed very rewarding and fulfilling to provide jobs to people who may not be as fortunate as us. At the same time, we are able to promote better relationships and a culture of compassion and harmony inside the company. This, I think, is what makes us different from the world and this is what we believe is making a difference for the glory of God.”

Going global, growing beyond the Philippines

This writer was part of the Philippine business delegation that visited Myanmar in March, and I observed that one of the entrepreneurs most assiduous in looking out for economic opportunities in that country was Hapee’s Dr. Pedro.

The past quarter century of Hapee success in the Philippines has witnessed the growth of Lamoiyan Corporation’s manufacturing facilities in Parañaque, Hapee toothpaste’s new flavors and the addition of new product lines in the household and personal care segments through brands like Gumtect, Kutitap, Dazz and Licealiz.

Pedro said that this year Hapee toothpaste is setting its sights higher to go global with its commitment to world-class quality at affordable prices.

He said: “We are very bullish about 2013; we believe this is the year when we will grow faster than before. This is the year where we will probably also explore exports to other countries, particularly Southeast Asia, by the grace of God. We will again be facing the multinational companies, so hopefully we will gain some footing (there) in the very near future.”

To know more about how Lamoiyan Corporation gives hope to Filipinos and shares smiles, visit www.lamoiyan.com or www.facebook.com/LamoiyanCorporation.

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Thanks for your feedback! E-mail [email protected] or follow WilsonLeeFlores on Twitter, Facebook and http://willsoonflourish.blogspot.com/









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