FOR a young man placed at the receiving end of the lead role in a company his father founded, this could be a difficult pill to swallow. Not to mention the likely fraught relationship that is akin to the “old bull” versus “young bull” viewpoint. Interestingly, these issues don’t seem to arise between the father-son duo of AppleOne Properties Inc. (API) and Sheraton.
The 22-year-old successor Ray Patrick Manigsaca will be taking the reins from his father Ray Manigsaca in running the family business, but like any great endeavor, it will not come easy. The young Ray has to start at the bottom, learn the ropes.
Beginning with punctuality, he steps into the office earlier than most. Soon he will assume his father’s post, not because they own the company, but because he is the right person to sit there.
Setting up a business from scratch to making a good name out of it is a challenge for any businessman. Moving from that phase, however, to effectively pass the responsibilities on to the next generation is another feat entirely. Managing the family business in the competitive corporate world while also tied to family loyalties and values can fire up a set of tensions, and so passing the big torch may be harder than it seems upfront.
The company and the family relationship are on the line.
Here the stakes are high, but the father-son duo maintains that challenges can be conquered if teamwork is held by a strong familial bond. Ray Patrick speaks candidly about himself not only as the heir apparent but also as a regular guy with hobbies and interests. The elder Ray sits with him and even rides on his son’s jokes like any supportive and loving parent to his child.
What is the start-up story of your business?
Ray: We started in the construction industry in 1993. Uyab pa mi sa akong wife ato, si Venus. She’s a civil engineer og ako nag work ko sa marketing from 1989, and we got married in 1993. We later put up a construction firm called Ven-Ray Construction. In 1995, I resigned from my job at a multinational company in Mindanao and joined my wife in managing Ven-Ray. My experience in marketing for five years and my wife’s expertise in the technical side helped a lot. We then diversified to real estate. Apple Tree Suites in Fuente Osmeña Area, Diamond Suites and Boardwalk City Residences —these are related to construction nga kami ra pod ang mo-construct. That’s the beginning of Apple One as well, still related to construction that we put up. Our advantage is that we build our own and that’s the beginning of our real estate business, which is what we plan to pass on to Patrick.
Patrick, did you acquire your entrepreneurial skills from your parents or from formal studies?
Ray Patrick: I grew up hearing them talk about the business over dinner or mini meetings. I guess my sister and I passively learned some important points and what they do in the business. Now these business terms are already familiar to me and I mention them to my dad. Siguro na-learn nako ang entrepreneurial spirit, like without really forcing it, naa na nako gyud ni.
Do you feel pressured to take over someday?
Ray Patrick: I feel more pressured in this interview! (Laughs). Naa man gyud na. Di mana malikayan, but what’s good is that I have all the support I need. I have my parents, receive good training, came from a really good school and I was able to work in another company. Still, at the back of my head, I know I have big shoes to fill. I really look up to my parents so maybe dira gikan ang pressure. I see excellent teamwork between them. Nindot kaayo tanawn.
Ray: Yes, teamwork.
How supportive is your mom?
Ray Patrick: I receive equal support from both parents. Their decisions are always as one. It’s such a nice feeling knowing that they’ve got your back. The fact that they let me study in Manila at the age of 16 was not easy for them, but they both agreed on that. As for me, I knew nga kung magkalisod ko didto, I can easily reach out to them.
What was your ordinary day like during school terms?
Ray Patrick: I studied in Ateneo de Manila University. We usually have 15 to 18 units per semester so though the work load is heavy, the schedules are not that tight. You can spread the 18 units throughout the week. We have long breaks in-between and we usually spend them at organizational events or socialization events. We hang out with the organizations and friends and at the end of the day, we play basketball.
What was your outreach activity like?
Ray Patrick: We go to schools and teach kids who are less fortunate. The memorable one was when I stayed at a small fishing village in Pampanga for three days. There was no phone reception there and hadlok pa gyud to nga time kay padulong ang bagyo didto nga area. That was a good experience though because it gives you insights about people in this kind of community. You can see that they help each other and their door is always open to anyone.
And how does such insights help you?
Ray Patrick: It made me become open-minded, more open to other people’s opinions; and that’s because I have seen a lot of people who have great potential regardless of their circumstance but wala lang gyud opportunity for them.
Ray: Wala’y opportunity kay layo kaayo sila. Daghan siguro kaayong talented didto pero kulangan lang og resources.
Ray Patrick: Tanan tao naay say or opinion so maminaw ka nila pero ikaw na ang mo-filter unsa imong dawaton. Just always keep your mind open.
What contributes to the success of the business?
Ray: Human resource is basic and very important. Now we have many corporations, and my wife, my children and I cannot manage all these by ourselves alone. We need to get the right people. Like we’re building a hotel. Kabalo mi mo-build tanan pero I need to hire people who are experienced in managing a hotel. I have certain key people put in place.
How do you know that someone shares the same business values as you?
Ray: Mostly these people are those I already know on a personal level. For example, Joy Veloso, the executive vice-president of AppleOne. Her husband is my barkada since elementary. They were college sweethearts ato, unya kami pod ni Venus. I know that she went to Australia and was the head of a mall there. I know her background. It’s really important to maintain good friendships. Also, as we grow and develop, we continue to scout around for talents, hire more teams of professionals. I can easily spot people who have good potential.
How do you draw in a right partnership?
Ray: Sheraton is a big brand and they tied up with us. For Sheraton, ako gyud nagpili ana nga brand. The usual condos here in Cebu are local developers, developers from Manila. To set a difference, nangita gyud ko’g something like a brand, kanang dako na gyud siya. Attractive na gyud siya sa mga foreign and local buyers. Established na iyang standard—the Sheraton standard. I negotiated with different companies and later on it was Sheraton that stood out and has the biggest exposure when it comes to residences and hotels. They’re an icon in the industry. All key cities in the world have Sheraton. It’s a brand that is very much established and that’s because of their high standard. That sets the difference.
What’s the family’s principle in business?
Ray: I value friendship in business. Kung business, naay certain limit pod asa taman pero lalom kaayo sa amo ang interpersonal relationships. Magtanaw ko sa uban strikto kaayo. Kami lahi kaayo mi. Maduol ra mi bisan kinsa na staff even sa elevator. Maduol ra ko anytime. On a personal level, we treat them friends, as our own.
Ray Patrick: Employee-employer? We don’t do that. Ako kuyog-kuyog ko nila didto manglaag. Kung company outing, kuyog ra pod ko nila. We are all people.
Ray: Mo-blend ra pod gyud ni siya. (Laughs).
Patrick, being a young entrepreneur, what skills must one possess to be good at his job?
Ray Patrick: Interpersonal skills. I am always genuinely interested in people. I’d take time to know them. I don’t want the employee-employer approach. I want to break that boundary. Secondly, wit has to come with that para di ka nila maabuso. You need wit to know when to take matters forward and when to back off. You need to have balance to earn respect. These two, and then there’s punctuality. I value punctuality and it comes easy to me. I like it when I come in to the office early.
Ray: And that’s what he saw from us, his parents. If you observe in Japan, they are very punctual and they’re very honest. And look at them, they are very progressive. Aside from skills, second is the word of honor. You are credible if you have that.
Ray Patrick: Yes, iya gyud na ginabalik-balik sa amo. (Laughs).
Ray: Yes, I always tell him our word is better than a signed contract. Once you’re committed, then stay committed all throughout.
Just think that your dad is not here, what is he like as a father?
Ray Patrick: (Laughs). He’s fair, balance, and kind; gentle to us children. Pinangga kaayo mi niya. No doubt about that.
Is he strict?
Ray Patrick: He isn’t the one who directly trains me. I have a mentor. I’m still learning the ropes. Technically, I haven’t reached 6 months yet at Apple One. Our EVP Jocelyn Veloso is my direct mentor. Maybe once after I learn everything I need to learn from Tita Joy, then he’d probably give me the go signal. I do receive responsibilities from him from time to time. It’s a step by step process, the natural succession process.
Ray: There are instances when I give him alternatives or suggestions. Ako lang pod siyang storyaan nga I think moconsider pod ka ani nga side. He had worked for another company for a year, aron lang ma-expose sa corporate world outside our company. He has to be exposed to all aspects of the business so he can reach my level of sight and he can make right decisions on his own.
Ray Patrick: I have to start from the bottom. Like I said, wit is important and I can’t have that wit if I don’t start from the bottom. Otherwise, I won’t have insights unsa ilang gipangbuhat. They can always put anything in the transaction without me knowing kung sakto ba or dili.
At the age of only 22, what’s the objective do you set for yourself for now?
Ray Patrick: It’s when I get to learn something new and develop myself more. I get to move up, but not in terms of monetary gains. I get to be a better person in everything I do even if I make mistakes along the way because then I’d gain knowledge on what to do the next time when I am presented with the same situation. The first thing you should invest on is yourself.
Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
Ray Patrick: It’s either I’m finally his right hand.
Ray: Or left hand. (Laughs)
Ray Patrick: I should be ready, and by then, we are on this business side by side.
Other than your parents, is there any business figure you look up to?
Ray Patrick: Mark Zuckerberg. He’s my idol. Techy-techy. (Laughs). Hilig kaayo ko og computers. And Steve Jobs. Di man sad mo-compare ko sa akong self nila unlike others nga ako pod ganahan modato’g maayo. No. They’re role models when it comes to corporate social responsibility. Mark donated a huge share of his sales to charity. To give back what you receive from the community.
So you’re really into computers and gadgets from the start?
Ray: Mo-assemble ni siya og computer didto sa balay.
Ray Patrick: (Laughs). Nakabalo ko’g assemble og computer around high school. Hilig ko’g mga pisa-pisa, CPU, motherboard, then put together and come up with a functional computer. I’m not the typical gamer. (Laughs). I play games but my interest is more on tinkering computer parts and their functions. Also, I really like to play basketball. (Laughs).
Is this what you do on your free time?
Ray Patrick: Yes, especially that my cousins are just nearby, I get to play basketball with them. Also, I recently discovered my interest in photography. I take landscape pictures whenever I can. Mga ginagmay nga scenes. I even have my camera with me now. I plan to take a photo of the horizon after this. (Laughs).
Despite the pressure and responsibilities, what’s a satisfying moment for you?
Ray Patrick: Whenever we dine together as a complete family–our bonding moments. Naa mi tanan, kabalo ko nga safe akong sister, wala’y worries and kabalo ka nga okay mo tanan.