The vi­sion, pas­sion, & diskarte of Al­fredo Yao

The Philippine Star - - HEALTH & FAMILY - – Epi Fabonan III

It doesn’t take a ge­nius to achieve suc­cess. All it takes are vi­sion, pas­sion, and the right ap­proach.

A walk­ing proof of this state­ment is no other than Zest-O Cor­po­ra­tion Chair­man Al­fredo Yao, the man cred­ited for bring­ing doy pack tech­nol­ogy to the Philip­pines. His com­pany is cur­rently the lead­ing maker of ready-to-drink juices in the coun­try. The com­pany has also diver­si­fied to other food prod­ucts such as juice puree, iced tea bev­er­ages, car­bon­ated soft drinks, dairy prod­ucts, condi­ments, and noo­dles. Apart from Zest-O, Yao has also ven­tured into print­ing and pack­ing, per­sonal care prod­ucts, hous­ing, air­line, and bank­ing.

But Yao’s child­hood is a far cry from his busi­ness suc­cess to­day. He was a bread­win­ner at age 12, tak­ing on odd jobs af­ter his fa­ther’s death. His mother, mean­while, sup­ported him and his five sib­lings as a side­walk ven­dor. An un­cle sup­ported his stud­ies up un­til high school, all the while liv­ing in his un­cle’s house where mahjong ses­sions were nightly held. It was here where the young Al­fredo started to de­velop a diskarte in life, through the er­rands he did for the mahjong play­ers in ex­change for tips. He also took up Chem­i­cal En­gi­neer­ing at the Ma­pua In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, only to drop out two years later due to fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties. This led him to the world of pack­ag­ing.

The young Al­fredo found work in a pack­ag­ing com­pany. He saw the po­ten­tial of the busi­ness and stud­ied the in­ner work­ings of the pack­ag­ing in­dus­try. His mother, mean­while, ap­plied for a bank loan to start a new busi­ness. Yao used this loan, as well as per­sonal sav­ings, to pur­chase a print­ing press for cel­lo­phane wrap­pers of bis­cuits and candies. At 17 years old, he was in con­trol of his first busi­ness ven­ture, Sole­mar Com­mer­cial Press (named af­ter his mother), which steadily grew in its first 20 years.

While vis­it­ing a trade ex­po­si­tion in Europe in 1979, Yao chanced upon the doy pack, a rel­a­tively new pack­ag­ing tech­nol­ogy de­vel­oped by Louis Doyen and the Thim­monier Com­pany. He saw the po­ten­tial of this new tech­nol­ogy in the Philip­pine food man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try. Af­ter in­vest­ing on a doy pack ma­chine, Yao mar­keted the tech­nol­ogy to lo­cal juice mak­ers—no­body bought the idea.

To re­cover the money he in­vested in the ma­chine, Yao thought of pro­duc­ing his own juice drink and be­com­ing a pi­o­neer in the doy pack juice drink busi­ness. He ex­per­i­mented with var­i­ous juice drink fla­vors un­til the fol­low­ing year, when he launched the first Zest-O in the mar­ket.

From the be­gin­ning, Yao en­vi­sioned his prod­uct to cap­ture the palates and hearts of chil­dren and fam­i­lies. Thus, with the as­sis­tance of UP Fine Arts pro­fes­sor Mon Del­losa, the orig­i­nal Zest-O pack­ag­ing de­sign was de­vel­oped: col­or­ful, re­fresh­ing, and burst­ing with fla­vor just from the name it­self. Later on, the quick-punch doy pack de­sign was de­vel­oped for easy open­ing. Lit­tle has changed in the de­sign since then, a fac­tor that con­trib­uted to its long-term recog­ni­tion. Its ra­dio, print, and TV com­mer­cials were also tar­geted to­wards school­child­ren, friends, and fam­i­lies, and re­flect ideal Filipino val­ues. This en­deared the prod­uct to the masses even more, lead­ing to its be­ing part of Filipino house­holds for years to come.

Yao’s vi­sion, pas­sion, and diskarte have re­warded him, not just with busi­ness suc­cess, but also with ac­co­lades from fel­low busi­ness­men. In 2005, he was named Ernst & Young Master En­tre­pre­neur. Zest-O also re­mains the only Filipino com­pany to re­ceive the Most Ad­mired ASEAN En­ter­prise Award for the in­no­va­tion cat­e­gory in the ASEAN Busi­ness Awards. As an ex­pres­sion of grat­i­tude for Filipino so­ci­ety’s over­whelm­ing sup­port for Zest-O, he also founded the Al­fredo M. Yao (AMY) Foun­da­tion, which pro­vides fi­nan­cial sup­port for the school­ing of un­der­priv­iledged chil­dren.

See­ing the po­ten­tial of an idea when no­body else sees it. Pur­su­ing your pas­sion de­spite what ev­ery­one says about it. De­vel­op­ing the right strat­egy to­wards achiev­ing busi­ness suc­cess. By em­body­ing these traits, Al­fredo Yao not only brought suc­cess upon him­self; he also touched count­less of lives through the zesty, fruity drinks his vi­sion, pas­sion, and diskarte gave birth to.

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