An undergrad who excelled in business

 

By Rose de la Cruz

 

Marlon Taunan had to drop out of civil engineering in the University of Northern Philippines in early 2000 simply because his family could not afford his education anymore. He went to Manila in search of greener pastures that eluded him, but this did not stop him from seeking it.

He took odd jobs—janitor, service crew and eventually a warehouse man—but in every step of his long journey to success he encountered harsh words from people who always insisted he would not go far in life because he is just an undergraduate.

Later, he had a job in a steel company, where he learned (on his own) how to systematize warehousing, which he applied to another company, Centro Manufacturing Inc. (the pioneer in jeep making from scraps of US servicemen vehicles) where he was at first hired as a helper-janitor.

Here he watched closely and tried to learn what the real (diploma-bearing) engineers were doing, but he told himself “I can do better than that.” Then he rose gradually to warehouse man, where the truck company for the first time experienced having a system in the warehouse that he introduced.

Impressed by this, the president of Centro, Raffy Juan then challenged him to learn computer (which he really wanted to learn). So, Juan made him study computer science and programming at STI (just when the school was opening) and he learned so well that he was made head of the information technology department of Centro.

Soon enough, Juan asked him if he could take over the jobs of four (under-serving) supervisors of the company, which he hesitantly accepted (as it would mean loss of their jobs) and he became the production head. From here, he was made to learn quality control and became the QMR (quality management representative) of the company before the ISO, until it passed the ISO certification for its observance of international safety and quality standards.

 After 10 years in Centro, he finally convinced everyone there that his promotions were out of merit and not from sheer ass licking.

Then Juan asked him to study entrepreneurship in UP (a special short diploma course), which he diligently attended. Here he met the procurement officer of PLDT, who later asked him to bid for 500 units of personal computers that were being junked by the BPO (which upgraded the system).

A taste of business

His journey as a businessman started when he bid and won the 500 units which he modernized and sold earning his first few millions from this venture. But he was still connected as manager of Centro.

When he saw how gratifying it was to have his own business, he decided (after 17 years with Centro) to leave Centro on condition he would not get employed by its competitor. “In the end, I became its competitor as I am now into the truck body assembly business, which is what Centro is also doing.”

Currently, he is busy meeting the orders of Foton Motor his first customer (a Chinese company that designs and manufactures trucks, buses, sport utility vehicles and agricultural machineries); Isuzu and Nissan Motors and even the dump trucks orders of local governments like Bukidnon.

PUV modernization

 With the Duterte administration’s ultimatum for the public utility vehicles to modernize their fleet beginning this year with new ones, including electric vehicles, he hopes to be able to bid and get a share of the 250,000 -unit pie (the size of jeepneys to be modernized) but he realizes that the Department of Transportation looks favorably at the big players like Centro and Almazora (the leaders in jeep manufacturing).

 A jeepney’s body, parts and engine are similar, if not completely the ones, used in truck manufacturing, he explained.

 He is confident though that “in the end, it will still be the customers who will pick where to buy the pp the better price.”

 It is more expensive to buy from the big players and soon, the customer will go for the ones that would give them lower prices, he explained.

 

 

 

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