Pro­vin­cial and prov­i­den­tial

The En­trepreneur Of The Year Philip­pines 2017 has con­cluded its search for the coun­try’s most in­spir­ing en­trepreneurs. En­trepreneur Of The Year Philip­pines is a pro­gram of the SGV Foun­da­tion, Inc., with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of co-pre­sen­ters De­part­ment of Tra

Business World - - FRONT PAGE - Lester Mark Yee Manag­ing Direc­tor Esprut­i­ngkle Food Corp.

AFTER WORK­ING in the city for years, Lester Mark Yee, 39, manag­ing direc­tor of Esprut­i­ngkle Food Corp., wanted to give peo­ple in his home­town of An­tique ac­cess to the best brands with­out hav­ing to travel out­side the prov­ince.

And that is ex­actly what he did — bring­ing in one brand at a time.

A grad­u­ate of the Cen­tral Philip­pine Uni­ver­sity, Mr. Yee was able to put his Ac­coun­tancy de­gree into prac­tice by work­ing as a re­gional ac­coun­tant for World Vi­sion.

His work al­lowed him to travel around the coun­try, par­tic­u­larly to ru­ral ar­eas. He ob­served that in many ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, such as his home­town of An­tique, peo­ple had spend­ing power but not much choices to ac­tu­ally spend on. He left World Vi­sion in 2004 and, with a part­ner, de­cided to put this idea to the test by in­tro­duc­ing a soft ice cream brand to the prov­ince. When Mr. Yee was think­ing of a name for his com­pany, his fa­ther sug­gested Esprut­i­ngkle, which was his en­try name for cock­fight­ing.

Since its first brand in 2004, Esprut­i­ngkle has branched out into fuel, specif­i­cally Chevron, and even­tu­ally opened fran­chises from Goldilocks, Mon­terey Meat­shop and 7-Eleven.

As a multi- unit fran­chise com­pany, Esprut­i­ngkle owns and op­er­ates more than one fran­chise in the same re­gion. Over the course of 13 years, Mr. Yee says that the com­pany has ac­quired 45 branches.

Esprut­i­ngkle fo­cuses on the pro­vin­cial mar­ket and is cur­rently present in 11 prov­inces. In ad­di­tion, the com­pany has opened branches in South Lu­zon, specif­i­cally in Cal­abar­zon.

The com­pany’s 143 em­ploy­ees un­dergo train­ing and im­mer­sion to en­sure its growth.

More­over, Esprut­i­ngkle trains its peo­ple in fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy for them to be more in­clu­sive in the busi­ness and com­mit­ted to its suc­cess.

When it comes to the brands the com­pany car­ries, Mr. Yee said it does not just con­sider prof­itabil­ity, but also mar­ket needs. Mr. Yee is proud of the fact that the com­pany op­er­ates in the prov­inces, cit­ing its com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage. He be­lieves that since the mar­ket there is less sat­u­rated, most of the fran­chises brought to the prov­inces have re­turns on in­vest­ment in less than two years.

Mr. Yee be­lieves in the eco­nomic po­ten­tial of the prov­inces and also val­ues its peo­ple. He be­lieves that peo­ple in the prov­inces have the right mind­set to suc­ceed, for as long as they are given proper sup­port, motivation, train­ing and op­por­tu­ni­ties. He uses profit- shar­ing to fos­ter an en­trepreneurial mind­set among his peo­ple. Since the com­pany has var­i­ous fran­chises in the prov­inces, Mr. Yee has re­gional ter­ri­tory di­rec­tors to man­age op­er­a­tions. The com­pany also has a cen­tral­ized shared ser­vice for ac­count­ing, trea­sury and hu­man re­sources.

Mr. Yee said pro­vin­cial mar­kets are rel­a­tively small and per­sonal re­la­tion­ships with cus­tomers there are more eas­ily built.

Mr. Yee ex­pressed how he prefers an open, hands-on ap­proach, say­ing he lis­tens to his peo­ple for busi­ness ideas. Mr. Yee also spends time to visit his staff to dis­cuss per­sonal and ca­reer devel­op­ment. He es­tab­lished a travel loy­alty pro­gram and grants schol­ar­ships to chil­dren of his staff. On a larger scale, he con­ducts prison out­reach and feed­ing pro­grams, and works with the De­part­ment of Trade and In­dus­try in men­tor­ing small busi­nesses.

He plans to ex­pand to raw ma­te­ri­als by be­ing a long- term sup­plier of the com­pany’s ex­ist­ing food busi­nesses, par­tic­u­larly meat and veg­etable prod­ucts, in part­ner­ship with farm­ers. Part of this ex­pan­sion plan is to sup­ply food busi­nesses aside from his own, in­clud­ing those else­where in South­east Asia.

In all that he does, Mr. Yee says he is guided by the com­pany’s Christ- cen­tric mis­sion and vi­sion. Cham­pi­oning pro­vin­cial mar­kets, he has brought brands that meet peo­ple’s needs.

For bud­ding en­trepreneurs, Mr. Yee sug­gests ex­plor­ing and de­vel­op­ing the po­ten­tial of the coun­try­side. For him, “en­trepreneur­ship is the road to suc­cess and will en­able the coun­try to grow as a na­tion.”

“Be true to your word, and other busi­ness peo­ple will help you.”

The of­fi­cial air­line of the En­trepreneur of the Year Philip­pines 2017 is Philip­pine Air­lines.

Me­dia spon­sors are Busi­nessWorld and the ABS- CBN News Chan­nel.

Ban­quet spon­sors are Bench, Bounty Fresh Food, Inc.; CDO Food­sphere; Fiori Di Marghi; First Metro In­vest­ment Corp.; Global Fer­ronickel Hold­ings, Inc.; Hyundai Asia Re­sources, Inc.; In­termed Mar­ket­ing Phils., Inc.; Jol­libee Foods Corp.; LBC; SteelAsia and Univer­sal Har­vester, Inc.

The win­ners of the En­trepreneur Of The Year Philip­pines 2017 will be an­nounced in an Oct. 18 awards ban­quet at the Makati Shangri-La ho­tel.

The En­trepreneur Of The Year Philip­pines will rep­re­sent the coun­try in the World En­trepreneur Of The Year 2018 in Monte Carlo, Monaco in June 2018.

The En­trepreneur Of The Year pro­gram is pro­duced glob­ally by Ernst & Young.

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