Dr. Rolando Hortaleza, the owner of the local Splash Corporation competing and knocking down multinational brands, Unilever and Procter and Gamble Philippines, is the featured entrepreneur success story today.
In an interview with The Philippine Star last August 2005, Dr. Hortaleza tells about the “bitter taste” of success after carefully assessing that he could not support his wife and their daughter with his income if he practiced Medicine – he dared his fate to become an entrepreneur.
Hortaleza says that success is just a matter of dreaming. In reality, however, dreaming only constitutes 50% of the total picture of success. Aspiration is one thing and materialization of the ambition is another. Let us view another rags to riches entrepreneur as we witness the life story of success of Hortaleza’s Splash Corporation:
In 1985, with a paltry capital of P12,000 (the total cash gifts he and his wife received as their wedding presents), he ventured into repacking acetone and cuticle remover after he paid P5,000 to his cousin in exchange for a special formula for these “chemicals.” Sans sophisticated technology, Hortaleza, his wife Rosalinda Ang-Hortaleza (also a doctor) and an all-around assistant transferred those substances from drums to small. amber bottles using tabo (water dipper) to make their very first cosmetic products under the company name RBH Cosmetics. Inside their two-storey, 500-square-meter house in Valenzuela, their very first products were manufactured.
“Many times, I would siphon acetone and cuticle remover to small bottles. And many times, too, I would accidentally ingest them,” Hortaleza said adding that their first year of business venture earned for them a little over P100,000.
Like all entrepreneurs, Hortaleza was itching to hit it big. Seeing a crown of opportunity in making hair spray in 1987 – because big hair style was the fad then – his company offered a high-quality, low-price alternative to the imported hair spray products. As many a woman used his hair spray, Hortaleza stumbled upon a spray of luck as he earned his first P1 million in sales that year.
It was only in 1993 that their technology became sophisticated. By that time, too, their company name had metamorphosed into other names – from Hortaleza Cosmetics in 1986, it was renamed Splash Cosmetics in 1987, Splash Manufacturing Corp. in 1991, until it became Splash Corp. in 2001.
To date, Hortaleza’s company is worth billions courtesy of its three arms – local distribution and international distribution of Splash and retailing (HBC). From acetone, cuticle remover and hair spray, his company now processes and distributes soap, lotion and exfoliating products like Extraderm, Skin White, Maxipeel and Biolink. From three people working f or Hortaleza Cosmetics in 1985, the company has 1,600 employees now with the inclusion of 40 Indonesians who are employed in his factory in Jakarta, Indonesia.
More than a success story, Hortaleza would like to believe that theirs is a story of hope, a story of humble beginnings. There were times, he said, that instant capital was hard to come by so he resorted to informal channels like borrowing from the Chinese community. At one point, he borrowed from loan sharks just to see his business through.
“I always believe that at the end of the day it will always be people issue. As long as you’re surrounded by passionate people, you can make sure that your endeavor will take off,” he said, adding that their faith in God is the tie that binds all actions of their company.
You can buy technology. You can buy or build structures. But you can’t buy passion and loyalty. Hortaleza is very thankful he didn’t have to buy determination and dedication from his people. For he practices what he preaches, Hortaleza’s people are all wired up to think and act that what they’re doing is for the betterment not only of themselves but of their country.
“The pursuit to succeed should not be taken as an end but rather as a means to the end. We run after profit to sustain life. We bought equipment and nourished ourselves. It’s about time we contributed to the society,” he philosophized.
Relating well with people is one of Hortaleza’s unwavering armor to feel the pulse of the masa. This trait of his is the reason there’s no labor union in his company. What’s the need for one when, in fact, Hortaleza is within arm’s reach of his employees? He is also very concerned about his suppliers, he put up World Partners Bank so accredited clienteles of Splash can enjoy “partnership of equals” when they do their financing transaction with the bank.
“I’m jologs. I play basketball with them. I sit down and eat with my employees in the factory and we tell each other stories about anything under the sun. I listen to their problems,” he said. Most of his employees call him Kuya, a term that does not alienate them from him. He and his wife also stood as principal sponsors in the weddings of their employees. Even his children – two boys and two girls who go to Ateneo and Poveda – are so grounded they spend time with their employees very often.
Even as a young kid, Hortaleza recalled, he has always been maka-masa. “For one thing, I grew up in a below-middle class community in Sampaloc.” At the age of 10, he would bring lunch to the employees of his parents in their small retailing business called Hortaleza Vaciador where, after school, he would help by sharpening nippers, pushers, scissors and cutters.
Now that Hortaleza’s company has grown big and has weathered the storm posed by competing against multinational skin care brands (Splash is the No. 1 skin care product in the Philippines and No. 6 in the international market, the only local company in a pool of international brand names), many companies want to buy them out especially now that they recently launched “neutraceutical” products like flavored virgin coconut oil and ampalaya tablets.
But Hortaleza said he’s not selling his company because it is the flagship of the Philippines when it comes to skin care products, a domain dominated by North America and Europe.
Truly, Dr. Rolando Hortaleza is another epitome of a rags to riches entrepreneur story. He has proved that with the right goals and actions towards those goals, competing with bigger companies is definitely possible.
Salute towards more success Dr. Hortaleza!
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