It was 1972. Shoemart Manila on Calle Echague has just been transformed into the first department store, 14 years after Henry Sy, Sr. opened it in 1958.
That same year, on the same street, 13-year-old Roberto Arias constantly helps his Tita run errands in Quiapo, which are always followed by a trip to Shoemart Manila. There, he first saw Sy repair exposed shoes; an experience he will still remember 50 years later.
“Alam mo naman na siya yung may ari kasi nakabantay and inaayos yung mga display. It was only when Mr. Sy was already becoming famous and his photos could be seen in the newspapers that I realized he was the same person I would see inside the store. for Mr. Sy started Sabi ko sa sarili ko nun, sana maging ganun rin ako ka succeeded,” Arias, 63, now says.
Supplying the SM store with furniture since 1987, his company, Homecare Contractor, Inc., began production in his in-laws’ backyard in Cavite. He now has a one hectare facility to produce high quality, durable built units and 70 direct workers, some of whom have been with him since he started his business.
He worked hard to bring his products into SM. “Kasi pag nakapasok ka ng Shoemart, para ka nang nag-eexport. One thing about Shoemart is the napakagaling magbayad. Nakakatulong ito na madaling mapaikot namin ang pera kaya nakakaipon kami.
Our company is really an SM baby. Quiapo pa lang, kasama na kami. What started as a dream for Mr. Arias came true through hard work, patience and perseverance.
Henry Sy, Sr. is Tatang for all
Named as the father of modern Filipino retail, but loved by his family, employees and peers as Tatang, Henry Sy, Sr.’s legacy as a visionary transcends the evolution of customers and the retail industry. Whether it’s a pair of shoes for every post-war Filipino or an air-conditioned space for everyone who buys from his store, SM’s business is rooted in the hope of giving back dignity to his compatriots.
Setting his sights on being a leader in his chosen industries, Sy’s life principles have helped him navigate the country’s business landscape.
On Opportunity Recognition and Discipline
Established in 2010, Kea was primarily an exporter of food products, but seeing opportunities in the crafts industry, the company shifted to producing baskets, storage, gift sets, furniture, accessories and accessories. wooden crafts and home accessories. The Philippines is the world’s second largest producer of handicrafts.
Kea’s partnership and growth with SM began with an introduction of their Buri Hamper set, made from eco-friendly Buri materials, which at the time sold less than a hundred pieces per year and are now purchased by the thousands.
“I know many entrepreneurs who have improved their standard of living by supplying SM. SM’s orders have sustained the weavers of Pampanga and Pangasinan where we have satellite warehouses. There are definitely challenges to overcome growing up, but SM is always there to help and explain. The company taught me the importance of efficiency and discipline,” says Eloisa Flores-Bautista, owner of Kea International.
Much like Sy, Bautista has seen how lives can be improved by simply recognizing opportunities and having the confidence to seize them.
On optimism and confidence
Twelve-year-old Henry Sy, Sr. began his journey with just 10 centavos in 1936. By working on his dreams, he was able to turn it into what SM is today.
Corie Rodriguez, owner of Perissos, started her business on a 6 sqm land in Tondo, Manila in 1992. Thanks to her optimism and creativity, she was able to grow her business and now owns a 2000 sqm land in Marikina. Rodriguez credits Perissos’ growth to the great relationship she has with SM, saying, “Di ba lumalaki si SM abot hanggang probinsya, kasama kami dun.”
Perissos produces wooden kitchenware, including knife holders, cup holders, plate holders and cutting boards.
Patt-Marie-Paul Trading is a small business that produces and distributes decorative pillows, headrests and neck pillows.
According to owner Deanna Catuncan, SM has always wanted exciting new products. “Our small business accepted and everything took off. Our partnership with them is more than just a retail customer/distributor. Knowing that whatever difficult times the economy may experience, SM will remain steadfast and stand tall to meet the needs of suppliers and customers. It’s like a family. »
On integrity, passion and vision
“If you want to succeed in retail, where do you sell?” asked David Lim, owner of Fibrefill Manufacturing, Inc. (FMI).
FMI is one of the country’s leading pillow and linen suppliers and has five production lines for nonwovens and pillow and linens located on a 1.3 hectare land.
As SM Store’s supplier of various types of pillows and linens, Lim frankly answered his question, “We have been growing steadily due to the growth of SM.”
Starting with 80 employees in 1989, and now already with 150 employees, Lim said SM’s ideas and directions have helped them. When management told Lim that his company should “focus on upholstery materials because that’s where you’re good at. You must grow. You have to grow. You have to be creative,” Lim hired designers, established a design and development department, and invested in machinery to propel their growth.
During his 27-year partnership with SM, Lim said he salutes the integrity of the company. “All we discussed was SM di na nagbabago. Kung ano sabihin nila matutupad. In return, we also comply with what they ask of us. Nandun ang mutual trust.
It echoes what Sy once said, “In life and in business, you have to have a good heart and be trustworthy. This is the way to build long term relationships.
“Hangang hanga ako kasi yung mga boss by rin pumipili ng sampling (of products to display at SM Store). Nandun by rin yung nila passion in products. Management even knows each supplier,” Lim shares.
According to him, this is how product sampling has worked at SM for a long time: “I am very aware of the style of sampling. From what I heard, Tatang knows what he wants. Pencil Meron lang siyang, ituturo niya, eto gusto ko, eto ayaw ko.
In Sy’s life principles, integrity comes with passion, long-term vision and strategy.
On building an organization
This is the 10th year that Joyce and Diana Worldwide, Inc., the largest manufacturer of bed and bath linens in the Philippines, have entered the SM Store.
For Wai Lok Fung, who is part of the second generation of the family business, partnering with SM in 2012 gave them the opportunity to grow rapidly. “Every time SM opens a new store, we also open a new store with our product, promoters and factory workers. At SM, collections are also always on time. We have never been paid in delay. It’s very important to keep us going. Every peso we can collect counts.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, all businesses were affected, including Joyce and Diana.
“Our parents reminded us that we cannot fire employees because they have been with us for 10 years or more,” Fung shares.
This feeling was also what SM made them feel. “Owners really cherish not just the business or the profit, but also making sure we’re doing well as a supplier.”
On social responsibility and job creation
Thirty kilometers up the Antipolo mountains, there is a small farm at Brgy. Boso Boso where women and housewives create scented candles that will soon find their place in the SM Store.
These are Bright Ideas scented candles by Finishing Touches owned by husband and wife Leo and Sally Adriano. They have been in partnership with SM since 1999.
According to Leo Adriano, they were able to grow as a company because they were able to “ride the wave of SM expansion. We are very fortunate that as a small business SM has given us the nudge and the vote of confidence to deliver. Mag asawa lang kami, and we had a small growing family. This time we were just happy to say that we provide SM. »
The partnership with SM has also allowed the couple to provide opportunities for many people. Adriano said that from a two-person company, they now had over a hundred employees. “It’s heartening to see them grow with the company. Marami na sa kanila nakapagpatapos na ng anak. »
For Adriano, “SM helped us to professionalize and put systems in place because they themselves have a high degree of professionalism. Every time a mall opens, we see TSC (Tessie Sy-Coson), Mr. Harley and Mr. Hans. They are there. When a mall opened, Mr. Hans was the one handling the baskets for people shopping. We have great respect for the Sy family because they are always in contact with the shippers, with the market and this gives us something to imitate on our small scale. They are a source of inspiration for little players. They gave us an opportunity even though we are only small.
Already innovative and looking for opportunities, small businesses need a platform to showcase their products and services. The MSME home is what SM has become, just like what its founder envisioned.
Sy’s life principles endure because there will always be dreamers like him.
“As I move forward in life and work on more dreams, I’ve realized something – there’s no limit to what we can do.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to access The Philippine Daily Inquirer and over 70 titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am and share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.