Cecilio Kwok Pedro

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Cecilio Kwok Pedro is an entrepreneur who made it to the top after his failure back in 1985. His principle is much grounded and to quote this man of humility, he once said, "We are competing against the giants. Without faith and without the intervention of the divine, it is really difficult to survive in this industry." The founder of Hapee toothpaste in the Philippines, making his company, Lamoiyan Corp., the country’s first homegrown toothpaste name.

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His Life

Pedro, became one of the first Filipinos who became successful in the exporting industry. His Chinese surname, Kwok means "to give" is truly an exact description of this man. He started doing business at an early age, compared to other boys his age, Pedro tried and jumped into buying and selling ball pens in grade school even if the results were not good. A Chinese-Filipino descent, he graduated from Ateneo de Manila University and earned a degree in Business Management. He also received the Honorary Doctor of Philosophy in Technological Management from Technological University of the Philippines.

He is married with one son, Joel, who is now also part of the said company. His son is a marketing graduate from De La Salle University. A Christian since birth, his values extends to people whom he helped fulfill their dreams. He chairs this foundation and established schools in Laguna, Nueva Ecija and Palawan and 13 community centers all over the country. He also supports an NGO – Kaisa Para sa Kaunlaran which helps produce a television show for children.

The Lamoiyan Story

In 1977, the company, Aluminum Container’s Inc. was established. It was the biggest supplier of aluminum toothpaste tubes of the two major companies, Colgate-Palmolive and Philippine Refining Company. This company was in the business for eight years. His first company, Aluminum Container Inc., sold aluminum toothpaste tubes to these foreign firms from 1978 to 1985. However, an unexpected experience happened in 1985, these companies which he had been supplying aluminum tubes for about 8 years switched into using plastic laminated tubes. So, not for long, Pedro had to close his factory.

In 1987 he opened the Lamoiyan Corporation. The name “Lamoiyan” is the Cantonese name of Pedro’s paternal grandmother. She was the first Christian in their family and was a big influence to their clan. It was through her where he drew his values and principles applied in both one’s self and in business.

From the Aluminum Company and the rest of his equipment, he initially thought of using these tubes for epoxy but the market was too small. Since he has been a supplier of tubes for toothpaste, he was forced to create his own brand. Pedro decided to try venturing into toothpaste making by getting some help from a Japanese company. He tied up with a Japanese company and started the said project for $20,000. And so the birth of Hapee toothpaste.

Twenty years back, people never thought of locally produced toothpaste but now, it’s a dream come true. After so many years, Hapee soared to number 2 in many areas of the Philippines and a solid third in Mindanao. Mr. Pedro never stopped growing, he continuously thought of various ways to be known. He first decided to sell Hapee at half the price of Colgate and Close. Then, he divided the market into segments, specifically for children as well as low-income and rich families. He also introduced toothpaste in packs, bundles, sachets to give his customers more options. Eventually, his hard work came to be noticed; Filipinos started buying Hapee as their brand of toothpaste. It was only occupying small portion of the shelf and most of the time people hardly notice it. According to him, buying a shelf to promote your product was so expensive.

The two giant brands were finally threatened because of the innovations the company was making. By 1996, Pedro said Hapee wrestled more than 15% of the market. Sales were going up, and Lamoiyan had enough funds to get celebrity endorsers. To further promote the said toothpaste, he got Lea Salonga as the endorser of the “Hapee Toothpaste”.

Pedro noted that they are unique because they were able to create tooth paste with different fruity flavors suited for kids such as strawberry, grape, pineapple and mango. He also ventured into products like Dazz dishwashing paste and liquids, Tenderly fabric enhancer, Fash detergent, Fresher feminine wash and Gumtech, a special gum-formula toothpaste.

Now, Hapee toothpaste is being exported to the Middle East, Papua New Guinea, Russia , Vietnam , and Hong Kong. He is also planning to sell more of his products in China and Southeast Asia. He is hoping to make a name in China because 1.35 billion people are brushing their teeth. Also part of his future plan is to be able to export and to ship products to India, the second most populated country in the world, is also seriously being considered.

Corporate Social Responsibility

A devout Christian, he’s very serious in giving opportunities to people with disability. Lamoiyan gives opportunities for the hearing impaired by employing them, as of now there are over 30 deaf-mute staff in his company, not only that, he also provides them with free housing. Sign language is the only means of communication between the hearing-impaired and hearing personnel, so he has also required his managers to learn it. To continuously extend his gratitude, as the chairman of the Deaf Evangelistic Alliance Foundation, Inc. (DEAF), he also grants scholarship to at least 200 hearing-impaired students through the said foundation.

Hearing all his accomplishments, he really applies his company’s motto to himself and to his people, Lamoiyan's corporate motto is "To make a difference for the glory of GOD". This is really a phenomenon both to Pedro and his company.

Awards and Recognitions

  • 2004, Ernst & Young Socially Responsible Entrepreneur award
  • 2001, Outstanding Filipino Retailer by the Philippine Retailers Association
  • 1991, TOYM for Business Leadership in 1991
  • 1991, Agora Award for Outstanding Achievement in Entrepreneurship

Affiliations

  • Owner and League Chairman, Hapee Team, Philippine Basketball League
  • Women's Philippine Basketball League (WPBL)
  • Chairman, Deaf Evangelistic Alliance Foundation Inc.
  • Chairman, Board of Elders, United Evangelical Church of the Philippines

References


Citation

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