With record sales exploding even more by leaps and bounds, the Philippines currently boasts one of the fastest growing car markets in the world. And most of the global car brands have sat up and are paying close attention. Needless to say, the leaders behind the local companies find themselves in a position of power—perhaps even more so then some of their regional or global counterparts. Every business strategy, every marketing tactic, could mean a consolidation of success—or momentum-killing failure. Which is why their leadership becomes even more crucial. Here now, in alphabetical order, are 12 top industry executives and their respective claims to fame.
Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo
It’s not too long ago when selling Korean cars was a tough job. But someone actually made a successful endeavor out of it—while making it look easy in the process. Today, Hyundai is a go-to brand as much as a Toyota, Mitsubishi or Honda. It has overtaken brands that have been in the market much longer. And pretty much throughout that period, the person at the helm has been one and the same, Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo, President and CEO of Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. (Yes, she’s the queen of HARI.) But not only is she responsible for thousands of Accents, Eons and Tucsons in people’s garages, she’s also now marketing Hyundai trucks and buses. This, plus a whole host of Corporate Social Responsibility activities (Agudo has been bestowed honorary membership by the Philippine College of Hospital Administrators) keep this spark plug of an executive on perpetual high-speed mode.
Felix R. Ang
There was a time when the Mercedes-Benz models you can buy in the Philippines were the very basic and entry-level 200 models. Felix R. Ang changed all that when he took over the distributorship and started purveying a wide range of gleaming cars with the three-pointed star inside his eponymous CATS showroom (his Instagram account is @felixthe_cats) on EDSA. Today, Mercedes-Benz (now distributed by the equally eponymous Auto Nation Group or ANG) boasts of a lineup that could rival any Japanese brand in terms of number and diversity—and has a healthy market share to boot. But that’s not all the feathers in FRA’s cap. He also brings in Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge automobiles—plus has a Mazda showroom on EDSA Greenhills. And proving that the apple does not fall far from the tree, his son, Frankie Ang, is a director in newly appointed Jaguar Land Rover local distributor, Coventry Motors Corp.
Ramon S. Ang
With all due respects to the man who brought BMW to the Philippines and made it the luxury automotive powerhouse that it is today, Palawan Governor Jose Ch. Alvarez and his Asian Carmakers Corp., the spotlight now falls on another business tycoon who is dipping his well-oiled and very diversified hands in the automotive market, Ramon S. Ang. “RSA,” as he is often referred to, has taken the reins of the Bavarian brand, which will now be distributed locally by SMC Asia Car Distributors Corp. It may be too early to tell exactly what direction he intends to bring the marque from Munich, but suffice to say that it’s in the safe and secure hands of a highly astute businessman. That he also happens to be a consummate car enthusiast is the icing on the cake.
Atty. Albert Arcilla
Considered a veteran in the local auto industry, having led Volvo Philippines since its pioneering years in the mid-90’s (until today), the very youthful and congenial attorney now heads The Covenant Car Co. Inc., Philippine distributor of Chevrolet, as its managing director and president. In the company’s first three years, it enjoyed over 30 percent growth in year-to-year sales. And, almost a decade later, the local Bowtie brand distributor is still outpacing industry growth. Ditto Volvo, which has been experiencing resurgent growth—thanks to the leadership and vision of this much-loved yet publicity-shy executive.
Robert Coyiuto, Jr.
This insurance tycoon brings to the country four of the most illustrious automotive brands in the world: Lamborghini, Bentley, Porsche and Audi. He also has a Hyundai dealership. But it’s not simply distributing and dealing with iconic brands that RCJ is noted for, it’s his industry-leading and award-winning Porsche Training and Recruitment Center Asia (PTRCA) CSR program that provides world-class training and financial sponsorship to underprivileged but deserving young Filipinos to become highly skilled mechanics, body technicians and service advisors, initially for Porsche, and now including Volkswagen and Audi. A new 1,200-square meter PTRCA learning institute has just been inaugurated inside the Don Bosco Technical Institute in Makati City. Several graduates have already been deployed to Porsche service centers abroad. As breathtakingly expensive luxury cars go, that’s a legacy that you can’t put a price on.
When you have only three consumer models but still find yourself half the time battling for Top 3, you know you’re doing a phenomenal job. Currently Isuzu is 5th, trailing Honda by an infinitesimal amount and Ford by the slenderest of margins. Now imagine if its two closest rivals could only sell three models. What would their numbers be? That puts Isuzu’s success in perspective. Of course, when you talk trucks, Isuzu is the undisputed leader. That it is actively involved in numerous CSR activities is just one of the many unsung reasons why Isuzu is loved by many. Take a bow, Koso-san.
Ford is accomplishing in the Philippines what its sister companies in the region are having a tough time doing—commanding an impressive No. 3 position in sales. In a market dominated by Asian brands, the American automaker is muscling its way to the front with its Ford Tough slogan seeming to be embodied not just in its trucks, but in its marketing approach as well. The numbers speak for themselves as the Blue Oval turns in record sales month after month and year after year—for five consecutive years. Bertrand Lessard may be relatively new to the Philippine market, but he has yet to put a tire wrong in the local car industry super highway.
Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. (MMPC) has been doing it for so long, it’s hard to imagine that the feat is unheard of for every other Mitsubishi Motors manufacturer, distributor or importer in just about any other part of this planet. That is to remain an undisputed No.2 in its local market for decades—not to mention expand its local manufacturing operations when everyone else has shifted production overseas. Yet that’s what MMPC has been doing in the Philippines. And now, it’s in the capable hands of Mutsuhiro Oshikiri, a Mitsubishi veteran who has served tenures in Japan, Syria, Thailand, Australia, and now, the Philippines.
Toyota is a widely accepted industry leader in just about every market it’s in. But to command almost half the market is a feat of Herculean proportions. But Toyota has been doing just that in this country for over a decade—and its market share seems to show no signs of decreasing. It’s not just due to solid products, as the competition has been rolling out exceptionally solid products as well. It’s partly due to reputation, as Toyota has nurtured its brand values better than the rest. Satoru Suzuki, who returned to TMP in 2016 after 16 years (he was TMP’s VP for Sales and Product Planning until 1999), will be the first to give credit to the whole team at TMP and to his predecessors, but he is now at the helm of a company that is responsible for almost half the cars that are rolling off dealers’ lots. The influence that that level of market domination entails is simply immeasurable.
If there’s one man who is almost singlehandedly pushing for greater market acceptance for Chinese automotive brands, it is Rommel Sytin, president of Foton’s Philippine distributor, United Asia Automotive Group Inc. A sportsman whose brand has been represented in various sports like volleyball and basketball on both professional and amateur levels, Sytin is also making Foton an active participant in various CSR activities. But perhaps his biggest legacy, yet, is the huge P1.2 billion manufacturing plant in Clark, Pampanga that should give jobs to hundreds of people directly and thousands indirectly. Then there are the Foton trucks and heavy equipment, which have quietly been gobbling up market share from established brands. Most Filipinos might not be aware of it, but Rommel Sytin and his Foton group are moving this country in more ways than one.
Takakura-san has been in the Philippines for less than a year (he just finished a four-year term in Honda Australia as MD and CEO), but he has already made his presence felt with a succession of high-profile model introductions, culminating with Honda’s global pride and joy, the Civic Type R. Today, Honda is one of the decreasing number of companies still building cars on Philippine soil. Obviously it is a commendable practice, although I’m sure that it’s Honda’s sterling reputation and its high-quality and fun-to-drive cars that are making people vote “Honda” with their wallets.
Willy Tee Ten
“Multi-brand” has been a buzzword not just for dealers lately, but for distributors as well. But no one raises the bar higher than Willy Tee Ten. He is the man who brought Mini Cooper to the Philippines. Then he brought Rolls-Royce and Lotus. Three iconic British cars. But that’s not all. His Autohub Group also distributes Piaggio Ape three-wheel vehicles, the very chic Vespa scooters, and the very effective and highly coveted V-Kool window tints. Niche brands, you say? Well he happens to own several Ford, Nissan, Hyundai, and Mazda dealerships—most of which are bestselling dealers among their brands (his Ford Makati/Global City is one of the pioneer Ford dealerships and is a consistent top seller of the brand). Then there’s the Autohub Car Care Services that purvey premium body and paint and mechanical/electrical repairs and accessories. He also has Click Car Rental and Leasing. Last but not least is Tee Ten’s way of paying it forward. His Autohub Institute of Technology is a socially oriented holistic training center that empowers automotive technicians by providing them with two-year TESDA-based Automotive Servicing Technician courses. He may not be practicing his chemical engineering degree, but Willy Tee Ten has certainly worked his magic with the successful chemistry of his automotive empire.
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