Hortaleza Success Story

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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Tyrone is a passionate financial literacy advocate. He started this blog on November 2008 when he watched The Secret which talked about Law of Attraction because he wanted to become a millionaire and wanted to know how a millionaire acts. At the age of 26, he achieved his first million. To find out more about him, click here or follow him at Instagram

15 responses on “Hortaleza Success Story

  1. Dr. Hortaleza,

    May we know how can we invite you to be our guest sopeaker for a studnets’ convention on entrepreneurship here in Batangas City? I have read your success story and we think that your the best person to inspire our students here.
    Hope to hear from you.

  2. Hi I was an employee in Splash and I know how hard Doc and Doctora work, they deserve the best for giving the best, God bless you for all the help you have given and still giving.

  3. Greetings!

    Your successes have always been inspiring. I’ve grown up hearing the stories of you and your wife (she visited my mother some many years ago in Virginia). Blessings to you and yours! And as always, continued success in all your endeavors!

  4. Good am Dr. Hortaleza,

    Right now, I’m enrolled in a cosmetology class. After finishing my course, I’m planning to put up a beauty salon. I want to ask if how can I avail your products on a discounted price.


    Nel Torres

  5. helo naihirapan po ako hanapin ang barnch ng hortaleza san po ba branch nyo sa pasay may hinahanp po kc akong hair product sa inyo lang po mabibili.pls replay po thanks

  6. sir

    ofw po kaming mag asawa gusto ko po mag simula ng negosyo kc d namn lagi dito sa abroad.ask ko po mag kano po ang pwdeng panimula sa mid level na parlor lahat po as in zero ang start ko.thanks

  7. Hi Dr Hortaleza,
    How are you?? I hope you will remember me, We used to be playmates in Sampaloc , (Negros) we lived next door to each other. I’m now living in Los Angeles California for 32yrs.
    I heard so much about you every time I went home, wow! I’m so impressed! Good for you!
    Congratulations to you and your wife, my warm regards to your family!
    My Auntie Aida, used to own a store next door to your cousin of Nene and Bert Lerpido.
    I hope you remember, Lando and you used to fight when I’m around from Laguna.
    In fact the last time I went home I bought your products.
    Please check out my website, http://www.usana.com my home base business, so we can talk.
    Please e-mail me, take care.. Tina ( [email protected])

  8. im tissany mariss carcido and im a student i have an assignment 2 research your succesful business.May i know where and how did you start that business?

  9. Hello,

    I’m having a vet hard time finding your products and I was trying to see of I can buy them from your website at hbc.com but I’m having a hard time doing that. I like your products but they are so difficult to find. Can you help with this matter? Hope to hear from you.


  10. HI Olan ,

    this is Diane from Better Living .. remember / need ur help for my daugther’s research for cosmetic product please..hope to hear from you …GodBless!

    thanks Diane (La Consolacion College)

  11. Hi, Tito Boni
    Its been a long time, wen i see u i was 4-5yrs old i dnt knw if u still remember Us and my Brother,ur his Ninong hope we can see u soon.. duagther of Enrico.

  12. Good day Dr. Hortaleza

    Greetings of Peace! May we invite you for an open forum which will be held here in Bauan, Batangas. Your story is so inspiring. Sharing your story will be an honor for us. Hope that you can lend some of your time. The open forum will be on February 3, 2015.

    Thank you

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