How an accidental bizman built a car rental business
Entrepreneur Cuizon turns his passion for cars into the still growing Catalina Car Rentals
If there is one advice Cebuano businessman Jerome Cuizon, owner of Catalina Car Rentals, has for other aspiring businessmen, it is to always pursue your passion.
It was his passion that helped Cuizon put up and establish his business which is now one of, if not the most successful, car rental business in Cebu.
“We got into this business because of my interest in cars. I have a passion for that. That is also my advice for people who want to start a business, to always start with your interest – what it is you love. That way, it would be easy,” he told Cebu Daily News in an interview.
In their over two decades of operation, Catalina Car Rentals has transformed from being a minute operator into a giant company with a fleet of over 100 vehicles from cars to vans, and coasters to buses.
Catalina is now the only sole proprietorship offering a complete array of vehicles and currently holds around 75 percent of the market share of foreign tourist transportation service industry.
The company will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2019.
With only one unit, a Toyota Corolla, in operation, Cuizon and his wife Consolacion Poca-Cuizon started Catalina in 1994.
Jerome said they took out a less than a million peso loan to purchase their first rental vehicle.
Since then, they have been adding unit after unit every year;
“I was an accidental businessman. I married early, at the age of 21. So I had to look for work,” Jerome said.
His passion and interest for cars started when he was in college. When he was about to enter college, Jerome got his own car. He would enjoy customizing his car’s parts, and he even joined competitions including drag races.
With their single unit in operation in 1994, the couple tried out the market. Since they were beginners, they had to learn things on their own.
“We were not businessmen back then. Everything, we learned it from our day-to-day experience. At that time, we did not expect that we will reach this far We learned everything step-by-step. We learned everything on the go,” Jerome said.
Another struggle when they were starting was their funding. Unlike most people who venture into business, Cuizon did not come from a very well-off family. He had to start the business with his own efforts.
Catalina’s current fleet now includes tourist buses, a double-decker bus, coasters, vans, cars, and SUVs.
Their clients mostly include tours and travel agencies, international schools, airlines, and hotels.
He said they make sure to employ well-trained, disciplined, and courteous drivers to make sure guests feel the hospitality and special feeling of being cared and protected throughout their trip.
Aside from tourists coming in, Catalina has been contracted as transportation service provider of numerous government institutions, serving government’s honorable guests and VIPs.
They also served as official carrier of some historical and significant events like the Miss Universe 2016 and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.
Comfort and luxury
Over the years, Catalina has had a reputation of being clean and luxurious among their clients and customers. And this is exactly what the people behind it want.
“It is what you see first. It needs to look good. Not just good, but the best. We see to it that we are better than the rest. And it shows in our units,” Jerome said.
This had been what Catalina brought to the industry when they first entered – a premium for comfort and luxury.
And this is what they would like to be known for even in the future.
Consolacion, for her part, pointed out how when they buy buses, they would always customize them like changing the seats, the color, and other aspects and parts to make it at par with their own expectations.
They also extend this kind of meticulousness and attention to detail in their people whom they train thoroughly.
Right now, Catalina has around 100 employees mostly drivers and office staff. Their other employees include a welder, aircon technician, painters, and washers.
“We treat our drivers and staff as our partners, and part of our family,” added Consolacion.
As a company, Catalina makes sure they treat their employees well, who enjoy incentives and benefits aside from their salaries.
Subscribe to our regional newsletter
Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of Cebudailynews. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.