“GT COSMETICS FROM FAMILY BACKYARD TO THE WORLD”

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By Tonton Alcos Antogop

GT cosmetics is already a household name in cosmetics products in the Philippines no doubt.

Truth be told, from a backyard family business with a capitalization of just P500, it is now a multi-million business which is even exported to the other parts of the world. The Americans, Canadians, Koreans, Japanese, Jordanians, and other Middle East countries are using their products and believe it or not, even the Nigerians.

Engr. Leonora Salvane, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GT Cosmetics Manufacturing, Inc. found a reason for that.

“Belief in their products.”

Salvane said they used ingredients which are natural and of tested quality and their top-selling products which the Nigerians loved are beauty soaps and whitening creams.

“Yes even in Nigeria, they like our soaps and whitening cream. They really believe in our product,” Salvane told iNews.ph in the sidelines of the installation of the new President of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) Virgilio Espeleta last Tuesday, April 2, in Radisson Blu.

Salvane recalls how their business grew from a starting capital of just P500 in 1994. She said she started it by herself after a friend who passed away encouraged her to engage in soap making while she was still involved in the sales of machineries and heavy equipment spare parts.

Using a baking pan then she at first made papaya soap as she already learned the basics of soap making even while she was in college taking up chemical engineering in the University of San Carlos (USC).

From out of 50 bar soaps that she cut in rectangular shape, she distributed to friends, neighbors and relatives the still unnamed whitening soap until she was asked for orders even if their marketing then largely depended on “word of mouth.”

Since orders came in, she already sought the help of her husband, Rogelio, and their children, all incorporators and salaried officials of their family-owned corporation now. Since their five children were young, they already literally helped by wrapping their products.

They started in their old house in Guizo, Mandaue City when the children were given an additional 10 centavos in their school allowance for each piece of soap that they could wrap.

In about two years, their product which already included a carrot soap and others had increased in demand as they already entered the local supermarkets.

They transferred in Sitio Calubihan, Yati, Liloan in 2006 where they first had their P1,000,000.00 (one million pesos) in gross sales, the day that did not escape Salvane’s memory recalling how it happened.

“I could not really forget it, it was in 2006 that we reached the one million mark,” said the USC alumna in Cebuano. Their house in Yati became their first manufacturing site by just making extensions within its compound.

After six years, they expanded in Luzon area where they inaugurated their Marilao, Bulacan plant in May 2012 as their penetration in Luzon market also upsurged.

In 2014 as the financial liquidity of the company even become better, they decided to diversify by establishing GT Northeast Academy (GTNA) which is now offering a complete K-12 curriculum from pre-school to senior high school.

Two years after, just adjacent to their school, they built their P50 million manufacturing plant in Tayud, Liloan as their products already included personal care portfolio.

The Tayud complex houses their production, research and development, sales and marketing and admin offices while their old plant in Yati served as their extension to store materials which cannot be accommodated in their warehouse.

Their products which are also sold online apart from being distributed to almost all the leading supermarket chains domestically and Watsons has already reached 30 Stock Keeping Unit (SKU’s) to date according to her son-in-law Bruce Villamor who is in charge of marketing.

All their products are approved by the Foods and Drugs Administration (FDA) and keeping with international standards are all ISO and Halal certified.

The company now have at least 300 employees where an ordinary promo girl makes P80,000.00 a month in her commission.

“They are earning big kay aside sa ilang salaries, naa pa gyud silay incentives, among mga promo girls naay usa sa ilaha, she is earning more than eighty thousand a month,” Salvane said.

The chemical engineer turned entrepreneur revealed that by giving what their employees deserved, it inspired them to be more productive which in turn is very good for their company.

“Call it a miracle, when we started increasing their salaries and give them other incentives, our sales also increased. Our employees reciprocated it by being productive and zealous in their work,” Salvane said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

Back then she kept ten percent of their profit for charity. Today, they expanded it by doing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs like having medical missions, feeding in schools and sponsoring church and spiritual activities.

And so amidst the multinationals and other cosmetic product manufacturer competitors, Salvane revealed her most kept secret.

She said she put trust in God first as GT meant God’s Talent and her mantra is treating everybody fairly, their employees, customers, suppliers, distributors, and other business partners.

Her business philosophy is like being in heavy traffic while on the road on the way to a particular destination.

“For as long as I move on my own phase, mao na ang giingon nga (that’s how you call), no matter how busy the traffic is you always have a place in the road. Ayaw lang gyud pamangga kay muuna ka, ayaw pamag-id, dili gyud ka kaabot asa ka padulong (just do not collide with others so that you will go ahead, don’t bump the others, you will not really reach where you are going to). You will see, sa hinay-hinay muabot ra gyud ka imong (even slowly you will really arrive in your) destination.”

Take it from the woman behind the success of GT Cosmetics, she started it right in her own family backyard, now its conquering even the world.

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