As a Businessman (Excerpt) – Triunephant
I worked under Smith Kline & French pharmaceutical division until end of February 1987.
The company has a newly created biological division engaged in selling human vaccines. The division was not officially operating in Cebu, but the pediatricians who knew the products would always ask me if I could facilitate the availability of these products to their group because they needed them for their patients. Since two of these doctors were my children’s pediatricians, I said, I would help them.
The two pediatricians placed their orders worth Php 5,000.00 which was already a big amount at that time. I called up our office in Manila and the one in charge told me that they could process the orders but had to be paid in cash and I had to deliver the stocks personally to the doctors. So, I told the doctors about it and they fave cash and I sent the payment to Manila through telegraphic transfer, picked the stocks in the evening of Saturday at the airport, and delivered them on Sunday. It was quite a messy, time-consuming, and energy-zapping endeavor but that was the great beginning of where our business is right now.
The Php 5.000.00 weekly orders became regular and the better news was the rest of the pediatricians in Cebu learned about it and started placing orders. Sales increased and started placing orders. Sales increased to a whopping Php 50,000.00 monthly for three months. The not-so-good news was that the process of serving these doctors in good faith was already taking toll on my job and personal time with my family. So, one day, I called up the division manager and told him that I could no longer carry the extra load.
Before we ended our telephone conversation, he told me to pick him up at the airport the morning of the following day. In the car, he requested that I help him look for a qualified and credible dealer or distributor for Visayas and Mindanao. I honestly declined and told him that although I knew some distributors, I would not recommend anyone because I did not want to be responsible for what might happen in the future, especially since the products are highly perishable.
He bluntly told me that his purpose for coming was not really to look for a distributor because he already knew one. I asked him whom he had in mind in particular and he told me. “He is the very person driving the car right now, sitting beside me.” I was surprised and asked him, “Why me?” He told me that I had been the one doing it, the doctors had trust and confidence in me, and I was very dedicated in serving the doctors.
But something was not tight, I did not have the money, the facilities, or the people to do the job and the worst thing was that I was still connected with the pharmaceutical division of the same company. How could I do business with another division in the company while I was still employed by the other division? Amazingly, he had ready answers and solutions to all my questions and potential business problems.
He told me to get a dummy and just do what I had been doing. Get the orders and the payments from the doctors, open a checking account, and pay the company at the end of every month and I would get a 20 percent distribution fee, which is internationally accepted as industry and company standard. My mind was playing with numbers. What is 20 percent of more than Php 150,000.00 worth of sales I had already delivered to the company for three months? The amount was more than my salary for one whole year, so I thought that this was probably what they call “business.” The manager read my mind and told me to forget the commission from the previous sales and concentrate on the proposal.
So I started the ball rolling. We successfully handled the distribution of all the vaccines under the human biological division of the company having Php 500,000.00 average monthly sales in the Visayas and some parts of Northern Mindanao for more than three fruitful years.
Lesson in business: Do not depend on one supplier or one type of business.