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Tin Hao Dimsum: Ready for franchising

A business partnership gone sour paved the way for this company to create its own brand name, and reap the rewards of hard work and persistence.
By Max De Leon |

After 14 years of developing its products and brand, Tin Hao Dimsum is finally ready to open its doors to franchisees. Though there are already many stories about accidental entrepreneurs each with a unique combo of sometimes amusing, often amazing, details, and though Tin Hao Dimsum\\\'s is not exactly a tale, it is remarkable as well.


[related|post]In the 80s, Quirino and Elizabeth Tan decided to pack their bags and set out for Vancouver, BC Canada. To facilitate their immigration papers, they had to show proof of investments, so they decided to acquire a small bakery serving both Asian and European baked goods and pastries. With no entrepreneurial background, but forced to make the stint work out, Mr. Tan relied on wife Elizabeth\\\'s passion for creating great tasting food and just willed himself to learn to be a businessman.


Soon their products, and most especially their siopao, started to gain popularity among patrons of different races in Vancouver. When the family decided to relocate to the Philippines in 1995, they decided to just concentrate on food manufacturing and wholesaling their siopao and siomai. That was when they established EST Dimsum Master Food Company, and shook hands to be the exclusive supplier for a major convenience store chain based in Metro Manila.



The thing with verbal agreements is, one has no way to make the other party honor the agreement. Suddenly, their business partner started getting from other suppliers, not honoring their "exclusivity clause" anymore. Without a major client to supply to, the Tans had to think hard about their next move if they were to continue doing business.


Bravely, they made their choice: they would go into retailing. Thus, in 2000, the family switched to retailing under their own brand, Tin Hao Dimsum, and established their first store in Star Mall, Mandaluyong City in 2001. In fact, they wanted to locate their store in other malls, but they were rejected because theirs was an unknown brand.


"Now we have 28 stores, going on 31 since we have just signed up for 3 more locations. We have also expanded our product lines to include five variants of rice meals, three kinds of siomai, five types of siopao, soup and black gulaman," the son Tyrone Tan, who officially came on board in 2008 as Business Development Officer, proudly shares. Prior to that, he had been providing inputs on the business even while he was still finishing his studies in Canada and while he held a job in China for two years. "We learned that the potential in retail is greater than just supplying, so we started to grow the business," Tyrone continues, well aware that the setback the business encountered with the convenience store chain proved to be a blessing in disguise.   



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