“Fighting multinationals was very tough. At first, everyone thought I was crazy. They told me, how will I survive this? True enough, it’s by the grace of God that I’m still here in the toothpaste industry after 20 years. God is good,” – Cecilio K. Pedro
Cecilio K. Pedro is another Filipino businessman of Chinese descent but his story is not the typical rags-to-riches tale but about turning adversity into triumph. He earned his business management degree at the Ateneo de Manila University, one of the more prestigious private schools in the Philippines.
He once headed Aluminum Container, Inc. which was the major supplier of the collapsible aluminum toothpaste tubes that were formerly used by local manufacturers of Colgate-Palmolive, Procter and Gamble and the Philippine Refining Company (now Unilever). However, technological innovations and the environmental concerns over aluminum materials prompted the multinational companies to make use of the plastic-laminated toothpaste tubes as an alternative. As a result, Cecilio’s aluminum factory closed shop in 1985, but this didn’t stop him from exploring other ways to put his factory equipment into good use.
Cecilio K Pedro decided to compete with the multinational giants by producing locally made toothpastes and hit them where it would hurt the most — the selling price. He founded the Lamoiyan Corporation, which became the manufacturer of the first locally produced toothpastes “Hapee” and “Kutitap” (sparkle). They were sold in the Philippine market at 50 percent lower than the selling price of the well known foreign brands.
Although Colgate countered by dropping the price of its toothpaste products 20 percent lower than their original price, Cecilio Pedro came up with another innovation that gave him a further edge in the local market scene. He developed multi-flavored toothpastes for children that came brightly packaged in tubes and boxes adorned with “Sesame Street” characters. Today, the market for the budget-friendly toothpaste brands has expanded to neighboring countries like China, Vietnam and Indonesia.
However, the low-priced toothpaste was not the only strategy that took Lamoiyan Corporation to the pinnacles of success. The company was lauded for having the “Most Outstanding Program for Equal Employment Opportunity” by providing work opportunities to the country’s hearing-impaired community members.
Lamoiyan’s employment program includes free housing for more than 30 deaf-mute staff, while the company’s managers are required to learn sign-language as a means of communicating with the hearing-impaired staff. Since the founding of the Lamoiyan Corporation, about 180 deaf-mute students have received a free college education through D.E.A.F. which stands for Deaf Evangelistic Alliance Foundation, founded and chaired by Cecilio K. Pedro and officially recognized by the Philippine government’s Department of Education and Culture.
Cecilio K. Pedro was awarded with an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy in Technological Management by the Technological University of the Philippines in recognition of his corporate and social achievements. Dr. Pedro ingrained his own belief through the company’s corporate motto: ”Making the difference for the Glory of God”.