As we celebrate Father’s Day on Sunday, June 19, allow me to write something about my father, also the “Father of Philippine franchising” himself, Mr. Samson “Samie” Lim.
As a father, not only does he continuously inspire his children to strive for greatness, but he also inspires thousands of homegrown entrepreneurs to dream bigger and aim for the global stage through franchising.
Here are seven things you probably did not know about my dad, the “Father of Philippine franchising:”
1. He didn’t know anything about franchising when he started
When he started in the franchise industry 20 years ago, he was already a seasoned retailer, but admits that he did not know much about franchising just yet. “Everything I learned about franchising, I learned from someone else,” he recalled.
Thus, he brought the franchise of world-renowned franchise consultancy firm Francorp to the Philippines in order to learn franchising in-depth and to bring international franchising standards to the country.
2. He is a franchisor and franchisee in his own right
Samie has a lot of room to practice what he preaches as a franchise consultant. Aside from being the president of home appliances store Automatic Center and lifestyle furniture store Blims Lifestyle Group, he is also a franchisor of living room essentials store La-Z-Boy Gallery.
He is also the master franchisee of the Canadian Tourism and Hospitality Institute for the Asian region and, recently, he also became the franchisee of French furniture brand Gautier.
3. He is also the “father” of Mother's Day in the Philippines
The “father of Philippine franchising” is also credited for popularizing Mother's Day celebration in the country. As one of the founders of the Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) and Philippine Franchise Association (PFA), he pushed its members to offer special Mother's Day treats for their customers.
Back then, Mother's Day treats were not yet as common, and it was a celebration that was usually left in the hands of greeting card distributors and flower shops. “My greatest joy is the fact that I have made a difference in the life of millions of Filipino families with the annual celebration of Mother's Day,” he said.
4. He has a knack for uniting fragmented business sectors
As a retailer, my father knew that business was his forte; but he also knew that he had a talent for bringing people together. He believes that there is strength in numbers, so he used this talent to build business organizations in different industries which, he envisioned, can build the nation together.
He started in his turf, the appliance and furniture industry. Then, he moved to unite different retailers in the country, giving birth to PRA, which then gave birth to PFA. Now, he is focused on uniting the tourism industry and the private education sector.
5. He once served as Trade undersecretary
His expertise and influence in the retail and franchise industries did not go unnoticed. In 1999, Samie Lim had the honor to serve as the Undersecretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). During his term, he also became the general manager of the National Development Company, the government’s premier investment arm under the DTI.
To this day, he still considers it one of his greatest accomplishments, alongside the privilege of serving as president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2007.
6. He wanted to become Vice President of the Philippines
Samie Lim had grand ambitions on how to build the nation and its industries, which is why he wanted to run for public office and eyed the vice presidency. “However, the declaration of Martial Law crushed my dream, so I moved to Plan B,” he recalled.
His Plan B was to strengthen the different industries through united business organizations. This way, different industries can then help build the nation together.
7. He was born at home with the aid of a midwife
Being a leading retailer and successful entrepreneur, one would think that Lim have always had it easy. But did you know that he was born at home, with the aid of a kumadrona (mid-wife), into a middle-class family in Tondo, Manila right after the war?
However, his family has always been entrepreneurial, a trait which he obviously inherited—as a kid, he was already selling batteries to his neighbors. He was granted a scholarship in the Ateneo de Manila University, where he graduated cum laude.
All his life, my father always wanted “to be [of] the greatest service to the greatest number of people.”
To date, the “Father of Philippine franchising” is living his dream, as franchising in the Philippines is an industry that has created thousands of entrepreneurs, and currently employs 1.2 million people across 130,000 outlets all over the country.
To all the fathers out there, may you all have a Happy Father's Day!
Sam Christopher Lim is the senior vice president for marketing and strategy at franchise consultancy Francorp Philippines; president of U-Franchise Sales & Management; and chairperson and director for special projects for Asean integration at the Philippine Franchise Association.