MARINA BLANCO: Orders for her bangus products began in earnest after she joined trade fairs.
TITA MARINA'S BANGUS ATBP.
Startup capital: P10,000
Like most residents of Meycauayan, Bulacan, the country's jewelry-making capital, Marina Blanco started out selling jewelry. Her business didn't turn out well, though, so, rather than simply become a homebody, she decided to look for her gold elsewhere. She found it in fish--in milkfish or bangus, to be precise.
In 2006, with P10,000 in capital and using her own bangus recipe, she started selling rellenong bangus (stuffed milkfish) and daing na bangus (milkfish marinated in vinegar and garlic) to her neighbors. She would get her milkfish supply from the 10 fish cages that her husband Florentino had acquired a year before around the island of Anda in Pangasinan.
The fish cages were owned by FB Good Harvest Inc., a business owned by Florentino's family, and on the average, 65,000 milkfish fingerlings would be grown in each of them. Marina was therefore assured of a steady supply of the fish.
Since the fish farm was a separate business, though, Marina had to buy her milkfish requirements from it. She thus used most of her capital for this purpose and used the remainder to purchase the various ingredients she needed to process the fish into relleno and daing as well as the packaging materials and crates for transporting the finished products. At that time, with milkfish costing P60 a kilo, she sold her relleno at P100 per 500g and her daing at P40 per 300g. Assisted by her two househelps, she would process up to 100 kg of milkfish a month and make a net profit of about P4,000.
Later that year, when word got around about her products, Marina began getting much bigger orders. She then decided to purchase delivery vans, using funds from a P500,000-loan she had obtained from the Planters Development Bank.
That same year, her daughter Miraflor urged her to join a trade fair at Tiendesitas in Pasig City. Marina says she was quite reluctant at first because she was worried that she didn't have much to offer at the fair. Eventually, however, she decided to make three more products to showcase at the fair: bangus shanghai, bangus nuggets, and tinapa (smoked milkfish). (She also started making deboned milkfish at that point.) Miraflor then came up with "Tita Marina's" as brand name for the products and also made the corresponding product logo.
To cover her expenses for the fair, such as transportation costs and her registration fee, Marina used P30,000 from her Planters Bank loan. During the Tiendesitas fair, however, she got all of that investment back and netted P10,000 besides. This encouraged her to join several other food shows--among them the Agrilink Fair, the Asian Food Expo, the International Food Expo, the World Food Expo, and the Buy Pinoy Expo that year. The exposure of her products in these fairs led to a big surge in orders, prompting her to look for distributors for her products.
Marina says that although one can't really rake in the big bucks in trade fairs, joining them is very good for product exposure and for meeting potential customers and distributors. Indeed, after she started joining the trade fairs, demand for her processed milkfish rose to as high as 300 kg monthly in 2007. Currently, Marina says, she nets P20,000 monthly on production volumes of 500 kg per month.
At the moment, Marina supplies several Metro Manila restaurants and individual households. She has further expanded her product lines to siomai, lumpia shanghai with cheese, tocino, longanisa, bangus sardines, bangus belly, sisig, and kilawin. Poised to grow her markets even further, she intends to join more trade fairs in the coming months.
ADVICE TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS AND BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPS
Marina Blanco of Tita Marina's says she observes the following guideposts in running her milkfish processing and distribution business:
- Work harmoniously with your distributors.
- Maintain a good relationship with your customers.
- Have a sense of sacrifice. "When production peaks, I help my workers. It's a good thing for them to see you working with them. It gives you credibility and respect, unlike if they see you just sitting on your chair."
- Be hands-on and always be keen on quality. "You have to know the operations of your business no matter how big your business is and even if you're too busy. This is also a good way of checking and maintaining the quality of your products."
- Keep a modest lifestyle. "Having a profitable business doesn't mean that you can live an extravagant lifestyle. You need to maintain a simple lifestyle so you can further grow your business."