Have you ever met someone who is so successful yet so down-to-earth? I have. His name is Jun Cabochan. He is the owner of Pandayan Bookshop which has about 78 stores in Luzon.
My friend and business partner Ian Culibao met him in a conference and she said great things about him.
I invited him to join us in a panel discussion during my “How to Write a Book” seminar last June 2015. He talked about the book stores’ perspective as regards book publishing.
I was inspired by his humility and the success of his bookshop. And so we invited him again to join us in our “Wealth in Money Conference 2015” as a speaker on the topic “How to Enrich Lives through Your Business.” (During the conference, I also talked about “How to Make Money by Pursuing Your Passion” while Mr. Edward Lee talked about the “Core Values of Entrepreneurial Success.”)
I learned how Jun values their employees and treat them like family. Two of its goals is for its employees to eventually buy their own houses and lots and put their children to school. Let’s take a look at his entrepreneurial journey.
SHA: Hi Jun! Can you share with us briefly your journey as an entrepreneur? What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
JUN: It’s difficult to think of the distant past that went by without much reflection. If I have to pinpoint something or someone as my inspiration for entrepreneurship, my answer is “my mother.”
My mother wanted to make enough money so she could send her children to the best schools. So she founded CVC Supermarket in 1956, and worked long hours every day except holidays. True to her objective, she quit running the company after all her children graduated from school.
Apart from my mother, the creative spirit also motivated me to become an entrepreneur. Numerous ideas swirl inside my head, yearning to become concrete reality, yearning for expression. Entrepreneurship is one of the most fulfilling channels for one’s creativity.
SHA: How did Pandayan Bookshop start? Why a bookshop and not any other business?
JUN: Pandayan Bookshop is a 1993 spin off from CVC Supermarket. It used to be the school and office supplies section of CVC Supermarket. I wanted to operate it separately from the supermarket which was unionized at that time. I talked to the union president about it. The union agreed to the spin off because the school and office supplies section contributed only a tiny fraction of supermarket sales at that time.
The important consideration for me then was freedom. To operate without union constraints and pressures provided relief, some sort of release for my entrepreneurial decision making. I was and am not anti-union. Labor unions have a role to play. But I needed breathing space for the business.
Why a bookshop? It just happened that the word “bookshop” was an appropriate byline for a school and office supplies store. Was it coincidental that I thought of spinning off the school and office supplies section because I am a voracious reader? Was it my unconscious at work? I really don’t know.
SHA: What were the initial struggles you had to go through? How did you deal with them?
JUN: The business was a flop at the beginning. It was great to have CVC Supermarket serve as its incubator. Otherwise, Pandayan Bookshop would not have survived its early years. With more experience – not more education – we developed a format that worked.
SHA: I learned that at Pandayan Bookshop, you aim to ensure that your employees will eventually have their respective houses and lots and put their children to good schools. Can you tell us more about it?
JUN: Retailing is labor-intensive. The workforce is the key to success. To motivate and enable employees to maximize their contributions and make them willing co-creators of Pandayan Bookshop, we have a corporate mission for employees, our Pangarap para sa Panday. This dream for employees has five elements. All regular employees should
1. Own a house sooner or later
2. Send children to good schools
3. Eat nutritious food
4. Wear decent clothes
5. Spend leisure time once in a while.
To make this dream reachable we have an incentive compensation system in place. Profit sharing – annually and monthly – is done. Two employee-owned cooperatives – Sarilikha and 10 daliri – release dividends annually. A housing loan is also available. Our family-oriented benefits complement the compensation program. We do an annual survey to find out how many have purchased houses, bought lots, or built houses.
SHA: Wow! Your employees are blessed to be part of Pandayan. How did you grow Pandayan from 1 store to 78 stores (and counting) nationwide?
JUN: We are not nationwide, Sha. We are in Luzon with only two stores in the island of Mindoro. Within a few years we do intend to be in other parts of the country.
The complete answer to this question is a rather long story. Briefly, a system has to be in place. You create a replicable format. Then you replicate and replicate, growing the system to keep pace with the expansion. The human effort required to fuel this system, you can imagine, is huge. It becomes so much easier to do when everyone in the workforce is a co-creator.
SHA: In your opinion, what contributed to the success of Pandayan?
JUN: The main factor in Pandayan’s success is our workforce. They work like genuine stakeholders. They work very hard and very intelligently, many times outperforming legal owners.
Over the years, I learned that there are five things needed to engage employees fully:
1. Decent pay
2. Fair treatment
3. Meaningful work
4. A happy workplace
5. A good future
You can refer to the five as the winning hand in human capital management.
The corporate culture aligns everything in the system. Our culture is called Kultura ng Tagumpay. It is crystallized in a booklet that we review every year. It evolves as our experience sculpts and refines it. We take it to heart and live it every single day.
SHA: What advice can you give start-up entrepreneurs as well as those who’ve been in business for quite some time already?
JUN: Check your passion. There must be enough passion in your tank to bring you across the anxiety, bumps and heartaches along the road. You must know how money works because money is the tool that we use to make transactions. You must know how to handle inventory if you are a merchant because, more often than not, merchandise inventory composes the largest part of your assets.
Being spiritual is a big plus. Spirituality brings your humanity to the fore when you come to the grey areas of decision making. Spirituality helps you do the right thing when it is so easy and tempting to do the wrong thing.
SHA: Thank you so much for sharing your time and wisdom, Jun! You are so inspiring!
JUN: You are most welcome, Sha. It was a great opportunity to share the Pandayan story.
I had the privilege to meet Jun in person twice and I could sense his sincerity and humility. He is a man of few words but every word that comes out of his mouth is golden. He talks with passion and with sense. And the best part is, as he succeeds in his business, he also helps the people who work with him succeed.
I bet one of the reasons why Pandayan Bookshop is so successful is its ability to enrich lives. Whose lives? The lives of its employees, its clients, its suppliers, and the community where it operates.
In our journey as entrepreneurs, it is my wish that God prospers our businesses more so we could also prosper others.
I wish you success and happiness!
(Special Note: I would like to thank my friend and business partner Val Averia for coining the term “How to Enrich Lives through Your Business.” This was the topic we asked Mr. Jun Cabochan to speak on during the Wealth in Money Conference 2015 that we, at Institute for Integrality, Inc. organised.)
I wish you success and happiness!
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