Natividad Cheng, co-founder, chair and CEO of Multiflex RNC Philippines, receives the Entrepreneur of the Year Award during the ceremony held at the Makati Shangri-La on October 18. Beside her are (L-R) former Prime Minister Cesar E.A. Virata, Presidential Consultant for Entrepreneurship Jose Ma. Concepcion III and SGV & Co. Chairman and Managing Partner J. Carlitos Cruz.
Natividad Y. Cheng, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Multiflex RNC Philippines, Inc. (Uratex), the country’s leading foam and mattress manufacturer, received this year’s Entrepreneur of the Year award from global accounting firm Ernst & Young (EY).
The Uratex founder will represent the Philippines at the 2018 World Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in Monte Carlo, Monaco in June 2018. Entrepreneur of the Year is a global project of EY, a multinational professional services firm based in London. SGV & Co., the country’s biggest accounting firm, is EY’s member in the Philippines.
The 71-year-old Uratex chairman and CEO won the award after a banquet held on October 18 at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.
Cheng, together with her late husband Robert, founded Polyfoam Chemical Corporation in 1968. They started what is today’s Uratex Group of Companies with a capital of only Php4,000.
When her husband died in 2003, Cheng took over the business and further strengthened its position as the leading provider of industrial foams, mattresses and other home products in the country.
Today, the Uratex Group of Companies has over 1,000 retail establishments nationwide. Multiflex RNC Philippines reported a net income of Php70 million from gross revenues of Php1.9 billion in 2015. It is the country’s 887th biggest corporation by revenue, according to BusinessWorld’s Top 1000 Corporations in the Philippines 2016.
In her remarks after accepting the award, Cheng said: “We thank our Filipino customers. They supported the Filipino company. We try to compete with foreign brands. Kaya ng Pilipino! (The Filipino can!) I'm so thankful to all of you. I don't expect this one, makasali lang dito very proud na kami. Salamat sa inyong lahat sa pagtitiwala sa amin, sa brand na Uratex foam, at marami pa kaming produkto para sa masa, para sa ilalaban natin sa mga foreign competitors. 'Yun ang importante eh. Kayang kaya ng Pilipino 'to. Mabuhay ang Pilipino! (We were already proud to just have been nominated. Thank you to all of you for your trust in us, in the Uratex brand and our other products for the masses that compete with foreign imports. That’s what’s important. We have shown what we can do. Long live the Filipino!)
The EOYP search in the country is a program of SGV Foundation Inc. and was first launched in 2003. With the theme “Igniting Innovation,” this year’s search was co-presented by the Department of Trade and Industry, the Philippine Business for Social Progress and the Philippine Stock Exchange.
The board of judges included former Prime Minister Cesar E.A. Virata, Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, former Finance Undersecretary Milwida M. Guevara, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairperson Teresita J. Herbosa, Trade and Industry Undersecretary Zenaida Cuison Maglaya, Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) President Ramon S. Monzon and tech entrepreneur Nico Jose “Nix” S. Nolledo, who was also EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015.
A total of 19 finalists vied for the Entrepreneur of the Year and other awards that included the Master Entrepreneur, Industry Entrepreneur, Woman Entrepreneur and Emerging Entrepreneur.
Cheng was also named Master Entrepreneur of the Year, which is awarded to a business owner “who has maintained management excellence over a sustained period of time.”
The Industry Entrepreneur award was given to Jose R. Soberano III of Cebu Landmasters Inc., a homegrown publicly listed real estate development company based in Cebu. Rissa Mananquil Trillo of Happy Skin Cosmetics was heralded as the Woman Entrepreneur, while Lester C. Yu of Fruitas Holdings Inc. received the Emerging Entrepreneur award.
Among the search’s other finalists are Robert Blancaflor of Robert Blancaflor & Groups Inc., Melesa D. Chua of CDC Holdings Inc., Levy Espiritu of DATEM Inc., Francis Ganzon of Bangko Kabayan Inc., Octavia Hizon of Hizon's Restaurant & Catering Services Inc., Rommel Juan of Binalot Fiesta Foods Inc. and Ricardo Lagdameo of Damosa Land Inc.
Other finalists also include Peter Ira Laurel of Lyceum of the Philippines University – Batangas, Maynard Ngu of Cosmic Technologies Inc. (Cherry Mobile), Ma. Estela Nievera of Cabalen Management Co. Inc., Cristino Panlilio of Balibago Waterworks System Inc., Samuel Po of JS Unitrade Merchandise Inc., Charles Streegan of Pacific Traders and Manufacturing Corp., Antonio Tan of Lion Commercial Corp. and Lester Yee of Esprutingkle Food Corp.
The EOYP has been given to 11 other Filipino entrepreneurs since the program’s inauguration in 2003. The first title was awarded to Tony Tan Caktiong of Jollibee Foods Corp., followed by Socorro C. Ramos of National Book Store in 2004.
Pauline Macaraeg is Entrepreneur PH's data journalist. Follow her on Twitter @paulinemacaraeg