By Paulo M. Tibig as told to J. Randell Tiongson
I have been introduced as a promdi making it big. I hail from Bataan and took up my college degree here in Manila with big dreams. I have always been steadfast in my aspirations even if things do not necessarily go as I plan.
After college, I worked hard and literally started from the bottom, something that prepared me for the challenges of professional life. Life was not always easy for someone like me. Like many of us, I went through the difficulties of making ends meet but I was persistent even if things were not always as clear to me at the onset of my professional life.
There were also times when I thought that I would stick to the corporate life but there was always that yearning for something more. After college, I ended up working as an employee in large corporations and even dabbled in selling insurance for a leading Canadian insurer. However, my entrepreneurial spirit was always tugging at me. My father was an entrepreneur (an LPG dealership) so going into business was always an option for me.
When my father became ill, circumstances forced me to resign from my corporate job. Being the eldest, I needed to help take care of my father. I took this time to explore the possibilities of being in business.
I used to live in an area in Quiapo, Manila where the student population was very dense. Together with my girlfriend (now my wife), we thought it would be a good idea to establish a laundry shop to cater to the residents of the area. My partner was still an employee of a leading multinational consumer firm but she shared my passion for enterprise. Our first venture into business did not really yield us the desired results we originally intended. Water was a problem in the area while margins were slim due to the limited income of our targeted clients. However, that experience taught us the rudiments of going into business and we built on from the mistakes we experienced.
I knew that the laundry business was just a first step for us and we were further exploring other opportunities. My wife’s work was a good learning experience for us and opened a door for us in the arena of logistics. With keen observation and a more deliberate plan, we entered the world of logistics which also meant that my wife would leave the corporate world too. My future mother-in-law was kind enough to lend us our seed money and we were on our way. With just P100,000, a good business plan, and a lot of passion, we established Vintel Logistics in 1999.
Ten years after, we have re-branded Vintel Logistics into V Cargo, one of the country’s largest logistics and cargo companies today. We pride ourselves as a company big enough to have the efficiencies of a multinational cargo corporation, yet small enough to be flexible for our clients demanding needs. With a client base composed of the leading corporations of the country, V Cargo is gleaming with pride of its accomplishments while looking forward to more value added services that will increase our market share.
I have often asked how a probinsyano like me made it in the highly competitive and quite vicious business world. I would often say that it all starts with a dream, fueled by passion, and nourished by deliberate industriousness. I have molded my organization to embrace excellence in everything we do, be it professionally or personally. Even when we were still a small company, we always run it like a “big” company – deliberate, efficient, organized, and most importantly, highly professionalized. As the captain of my ship, I subscribe to lofty leadership ideals and have never compromised my values even if it wasn’t always practical. Judging from where V Cargo is right now, I would like to believe that I did things right and I will continue to do things right.
The current crisis did not dampen my hopes. I am still hopeful for growth and I am confident that V Cargo will not only survive in these trying times, but will actually thrive. Some people felt that our expansion programs for V Cargo are ill-timed, but I beg to differ – I believe it is perfectly timed. Our programs for V Cargo are to further strengthen our competencies, improve efficiencies while being creative with our marketing endeavors. I believe that our company, with our emphasis on creating value for our clients, will mean growth even in our challenging situation.
Unlike most businessmen, I prefer to have a low key and simple personal life. My wife and I have agreed that we will not raise our children in an opulent environment and that we will be deliberate in teaching them good values and in being industrious. We continue to live a life free of debt, both for our company and our personal affairs. We run our corporate finances the same manner we run our personal finances. We always maintain a healthy cash flow and we never spend more than what we earn. In fact, we have been very conscious in the way we expend money. Growth in income does not necessarily mean a proportionate growth in expenses.
One of the things we decided on was to separate business money from personal accounts, even when our company was still very small. At the onset, most of the income generated by the company was being plowed back to business for operations and infrastructure. When the business began to generate comfortable surplus, we started to build on our personal wealth. I know that I will not be in business for a long time so I will need to live on whatever I store up. In fact, my wife has already distanced herself from the business, choosing to spend her time as a dutiful wife and mother to our kids – something that I am actually very thankful for.
I would like to say that what we’ve stored may not be much compared to others, but it is enough for us. Should I decide to stop working, I believe that we can already live on what we have set aside. We initially just tucked away money in savings and time deposits because we believe that we can’t tolerate any capital risks for our money. I take risks for the business, but I prefer not to take unnecessary risks for our personal wealth. While we will not complain about not receiving higher yields for our investments, we’ve decided not to sacrifice yields for risks.
My wife has taken charge of managing our personal accounts and she has started to diversify in terms of investments. We’ve recently hired a personal financial planner to help guide us through proper money management but we are still in control of our finances. Despite the successes the Lord has blessed me and my family, I don’t intend to change the way we live our simple lives. Next to God, nothing is more important to me than my family. Money and the business are just a means for me to live a good life with the people who mean the most to me.
I will soon hit 40 years and I am preparing for bigger challenges. However, I am happy with what I have already been blessed with. This is my story.
My Money Lessons
Paulo Tibig, president and CEO of V Cargo, a leading logistics and cargo company, learned business and money lessons the hard way:
- Learn from your mistakes. Paulo started a small laundry shop with a partner, which eventually closed shop. But he used that experience to make a more solid plan for his next business, what is now a major logistics and cargo firm.
- Act big. From the onset, Paolo ran V Cargo as if it’s a large corporation, by making it professional, efficient, and organized.
- Separate business and personal accounts. Even when the business was still small, Paolo and his wife made sure that their personal finances don’t get mixed up with business income, allowing them to plow back what their company earns to the corporate coffers. Although they apply similar principles of spending less than what they earn for both their company personal lives, they don’t take unnecessary risks with their investments the same way they take more risks with their business.