If you were among the first of The Generics Pharmacy's (TGP) franchisees, you may still remember Benjamin Liuson from the seminars he would give at Francorp Philippines' head offices.
"I'd always tell the applicants that...all of us go to either heaven or hell," he recalled. "The most important thing in life is for us to land in heaven. You work and think of your problems, but a hundred years from now, all of us will be gone," he recalled in an interview with Entrepreneur Philippines.
A century can go by in "just the blink of an eye," and he believes it is essential to make the most of the time we are given by thinking of "how we can evangelize and help people how to go to heaven."
As a devout Christian, his faith has driven the TGP president and CEO to stick to his guns when it comes to the business' commitment to providing Filipinos with affordable and accessible medicine.
From day one, he has insisted on a branch-wide 30% discount for senior citizens rather than sticking to the legally mandated 20%. "A president of a multinational company once asked me, ‘Do I want to make more money and increase my sales?’ He said the 'secret' was to increase my prices," he said. "I told him no. Our gross margin is high enough, so why can't you give 30%?"
Lending spiritual aid
Apart from the many scholarships and medical missions backed by TGP, Liuson's advocacy extends to lending spiritual aid as well: He has printed and given away millions of copies of the Holy Bible in six dialects and more than 800,000 copies of the devotional book, Our Daily Bread.
For Liuson, empowering others to succeed as TGP franchisees is a kind of wealth in itself. Since its first branch in Pasay opened back in 2007, thousands more have mushroomed across the country—as of this writing, TGP has 1,813 branches all over the Philippines, and growing.
It is a success story that parallels David and Goliath, as Liuson used to be a major supplier for some of the leading drugstore chains in the country—it is an enviable position that he gave up in order to start his own generic medicine franchise.
But when asked about TGP's meteoric growth, Liuson is more likely to quote passages from the book of Deuteronomy. "The Bible says when you acquire wealth, remember the Lord your God, because it is He who gives you the power to get wealth," he said.
The formalized processes of a franchise branch may give one a leg up in a cutthroat business landscape—a formula for success, so to speak—but he is hard-pressed to take all the credit for his near-ubiquitous drugstore chain.
Instead, he believes it comes from a higher power. "We can share information, but it doesn't mean that if you do [all these], you will be successful also," he said. "If God wants to give this person success, what can I do? Whether others who follow will be successful or not, the decision or the reason is from God." – with a report from Victoria Vizcarra
Victoria is a freelance writer who covers business, tech, and lifestyle. She is also the former features editor of Entrepreneur Philippines magazine. Follow her on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/vikkiverka.