In other words, according to Hector Navasero, owner and CEO of Philab, an entrepreneur has to constantly isip, isip, isip (think, think, think).
Philab Industries, Inc. is a big name in fabrication and design of science laboratories and their paraphernalia and a distributor of international brands of scientific, medical and sports equipment and agricultural machineries.
When it began in the 1960s. Philab was small and unknown.
Even, back then, he had begun to make isip-isip. After finishing a degree in agriculture at UP Los Banos and working on a couple of jobs in Manila, he thought it was time to be on his own.
He thought of setting up shop in his parents’ property in Los Banos, Laguna because renting even a small space in Manila would have eaten up a big chunk of his capital.
Hector’s first client was his alma mater, UPLB, which engaged his services to supply and furnish laboratory furniture for its then newly-built science buildings.
This first project got him thinking and planning to take his business to the next level: the fabrication of laboratory furniture. It was time to acquire a bigger space and he did this by purchasing a 5000-sq m lot in the Villegas Subdivision in Los Banos. He borrowed capital from a rural bank which became his instant partner.
The next 40 years saw Hector employing inborn ingenuity and creativity to design science laboratories and to fabricate and install furniture, fume hoods, and laminar flow clean benches for over 500 laboratories in schools, universities, research institutions, industry, government agencies and hospitals all over the country. He has also went on to become the exclusive distributor in the Philippines of top manufacturers of laboratory equipment in the United States, Japan, United Kingdom and other European countries.
In 1980, the main office found a new home in San Antonio Village, Makati City, although the laboratory furniture facility remains in its old location in Los Banos.
He wouldn’t have achieved his top status in the industry if he was not constantly thinking of improvement and growth, Hector asserts.
He built his company deliberately, thoughtfully, by investing in training for himself and his key employees and by turning out always quality output, even opening an after-sales service to ensure consumer satisfaction.
For his own training, he studied laboratory instrumentation from JEOL Ltd., Yamato Scientific, Inc. and Dupont in the United States, Tecator AB in Sweden, and Jenway Ltd. in England. He reinforces this training with visits to schools, universities, research institutions, scientific factories and pilot plants in many countries. Likewise, he regularly attends scientific instrument shows to keep abreast with the latest developments in his field.
He also sends his key technical men to train abroad. He knows investment in training is money well spent.
Hector is is his own best salesman, earning the friendship and trust of his customers. He is tactful in dealing with them, refraining from arguing with them and shooting down down their suggestions. Instead, he prefers to listen to their ideas and honors his commitments at all cost.
He is very much a hands-on executive, micro-managing his now large-scale enterprise.
With the help of an architect, he himself designs laboratories and furniture. He is always in deep thought on how to improve his merchandise.
He supervises workers on the shop floor with a sharp eye for every nut and bolt. Having acquired technical expertise, he can readily spot errors, a cause for anxiety among his workers, many of whom describe him as mabusisi.
Competition has kept him alert with his isip- isip.
He fights competition by continuously improving the quality of his products and pricing them reasonably.
He suggests that to ensure high quality, business owners must use top-of-the-line equipment and first-class materials. Innovation is also a must so that there is always something new in one’s product catalogue.
Philab is now selling laboratory equipment to a diverse market: food industry; fish, poultry and swine feed industry; semi-conductor industry; blood banks, mining and cement industries; academe and research; and life sciences.
All these (mainly) because Hector Navasero has constantly followed the dictum that an entrepreneur’s main task is to think, think, think.
Excerpted from Dreamers, Doers, Risk-takers, Part 4: Iskolar ng Bayan Gives Back, the Enterprising Way, published by the SERDEF and the UP ISSI.