Marwin Mangio: Carving out his own bbq business model


By Jose Francisco T. Cruz III (Contributor)

Marwin Mangio is heir to a family construction business. As such, he had his future cut out for him.

As it turned out, however, he had other plans. Even as he took care of the family business, he transitioned into other business projects using his own business model.

Marwin is now CEO of Samgyeop Masarap, a barbeque chain ubiquitous in large malls, The chain has put up twelve outlets todate, and still counting.

Marwin’s parents owned a thriving construction business. Early on, they immersed Marwin in the business to groom him to take over when the time comes. They made sure the young Marwin learned how to draft, weld, and do other manual work.

Marwin also tried employment. He worked at Megaworld and Ayala Corporation, where he learned the ropes in real estate. Later, he put up several small businesses of his own.

When the time came, he left the corporate world to take over the family construction business, as expected of him.

He made his own mark in the business by focusing on small restaurant construction. Seeing an opportunity in the wastes generated in malls, he also set up a chemical company.

In his heart of hearts, however, Marwin wanted his own restaurant, one that specializes in Korean samgyeop, which he loves.

As he could not cook, regardless how hard he tried, he hired a Korean cooking consultant to train his staff to cook Korean barbeque.

He originally had his mind on a franchise. But when Marwin was about to sign the lease on a restaurant space, the prospective franchisor reneged on their agreement.

It was up to him to develop his own business model from scratch. And he rose up to the challenge.

There were obstacles along the way. When his wife, who was based in the USA, became pregnant,he had to postpone his business plans to be with her and their newborn. Back in the Philippines, he had to procure facilities and recruit managers for his dream restaurant. He also had to finish construction projects in BF Homes. When the restaurant opened. a month late, Marwin was faced with the problem of shortage of supplies. He was still learning.

On the upside: his business concept was new. Another plus: it opened in December, when the demand was high.

Marwin and his team learned very quickly how to maintain quality standards. Shoe Mart then offered him a space at SM-BF Homes. Before the month ended, he had a second outlet.

Marwin didn’t immediately hire a new crew. Instead, he split his team so that half remained in the first store and the rest deployed to the second. This turned out to be a mistake. In his own words, it destroyed their operations.

There was no option but to recruit new people. But recruitment was snail-paced, as the company had no proper HR department.

Marwin saw an upside to this problem too. The workers themselves recruited friends and relatives to join th team. It was because they loved the company and wished to protect it, Marwin surmises. “They are happy working with us. They appreciate the higher-than-industry compensation I pay them.. They paid back with loyalty and an excellent work ethic.”

Mangio’s strategy of being the first to put up a store inside a new mall — to be always ahead of the bandwagon –seems to be working. At present, he has a total of twelve outlets in as many malls.

He reveals other strategies that he has successfully used in managing the business.

“Do not go all in. Do not put al your eggs in one basket. ” Even though Marwin was tapping income stream from his other businesses, he did not close them down. He anticipated being strapped for cash. Having several businesses to tap for cash is a safety net for him.

“Once you see that the business is growing and earning, that’s when you take the plunge. Do not do it at the beginning. Do not deplete your life savings. Neither do you mortgage your home.” That is how a businessman lowers risks, Mangio says.

“Trust your instincts. You can use financial data up to a certain extent only. Financial data should account for 60 to 70 per cent of your decisions. The rest should be based on gut feel.

“You can never have 100 per cent certainty in business planning. To stop “analysis paralysis,” remind yourself that business is mostly human interaction, rather than numbers and figures. What will make your business is relating to your people, your staff, your customers, suppliers and associates. Pay attention to the human side of business.”