by Mafelou C. Leagogo-Agriam
(CREAM January 2001)
It’s not everyday that you get to know a very young man handling several diversified and big businesses. All the more, one is impressed because this young man did not even pursue a business management course.
Meet Edgar Jaruda Sia, Jr., Injap to friends and family. He belongs to a rare breed of dynamic and disciplined young men who have proven that one is never too young to put up up a business. At 24-years-old, he is at the helm of five businesses operating in Iloilo City which includes a hotel, an eatery, mineral water producer, a photo processing shop and a laundrymat.
Photo by James Chua
A native of Roxas City, Capiz (on his father’s side) and of La Paz, Iloilo City (on his mother’s side), Injap was raised by parents who place high value on work, time, money, and close family ties.
“My father was the eldest of five children who worked for a long time in his own father’s business. After marrying my mother he managed a stall in the public market in Roxas City. Mama was a disciplinarian and a stickler to time. She would bring me to the stall from our apartment every morning to help repack bijon or sugar with my father.”
It was while working under this environment that Injap’s love for entrepreneurship developed. In his tender years, he dreamt of becoming a successful businessman just like his parents.
While studying architecture at the University of San Agustin, he put up the Injap Color Plaza infront of SM Delgado where the Farmers Batchoy once stood. A few years later, his studies put on hold then, Injap established the Four Season Hotel along with friends and classmates, namely, Rex Chua (of Iloilo Society Commercial), Jonathan Gomez (of General Santos, Cotabato), and Ryan Ang (of Kalibo, Aklan). Shortly later followed the Food Season in SM City, Holland Pure (producer of mineral water) in Mabini, and Mister Labada (a laundrymat).
Where did they get the capital one may ask? Injap acknowledges his parents as his major financier and with support coming from the parents of his partners on some businesses. At the start, convincing his equally business-oriented parents for seed money was a task. To earn their trust and confidence, he had to prove himself a competent entrepreneur the way his father did during his time.
How Injap put up his first business venture is one interesting tale. Gifted with streetsmart ability, he recalled making a hasty study on the feasibility of converting the batchoyan into a photo processing shop. For days without fail, he positioned himself beside the batchoyan tallying the number of people passing by on weekdays and weekends to determine the business potentials of the area. Only Injap knows how many bowls of batchoy he had eaten to be able to see and assess the cost of renovating the interiors of the eatery he soon would claim.
Of course, the figures were not enough to be presented to his parents. He also thought of other convincing ways to make his elders realize his serious intent of becoming a businessman.
Back home in Roxas City, his family maintained a supermart where bread was sold. Getting then from suppliers was a toll to the family’s resources. So why not produce their own bread, he thought.
When off from schoolwork in Iloilo, Injap took up baking lessons. As a result of this, a bakery was opened and to this day it produces their own line of bread. Injap also indulged in the buy-and-sell of vehicles, proof enough of his entrepreneurial capability.
The eldest of the three children, Injap indeed carries his parent’s business genes. His brother Ferdinand is inclined to be a lawyer while his only sister, Rizza Marie Joy, is too young to know what she wants although she is starting to be curious about the Gokongweis and the Sys, both business tycoons. Nonetheless, Injap’s parents are the happiest about Injap’s success.
With Four Season Hotel partner Jonathan Gomez
“Ang salig nila (sa akon) indi ko gid i-destroy,” he vows. “I was twenty years old when Four Season was constructed.” The idea of putting up a hotel came after a summer vacation in Cebu City fours years ago. Through the suggestion of a friend, Injap and Jonathan (Gomez) stayed in a plain-looking hotel near the capitol ground of Cebu. What impressed them. though, was the security measures observed by the owners and the comfortable rooms offered at affordable prices. Why couldn’t Iloilo City have such accommodations?
Thus the idea of a standard hotel was borne. Three years now in operation, Four Season Hotel provides domestic travelers and business executives an affordable, secure, classy and cozy place to stay in. Of the four original partners, only two have remained steadfast and in full control: Injap who oversees operations and management, and Jonathan who takes care of the finance and accounting areas. A pool of consultants comes in handy for technical advice.
For a man in his early twenties, Injap has the mind of a fifty-year-old who observes life and derives wisdom from it. Bar-hopping and partying are the farthest from his mind. thanks to parents who inculcated in him the value of fair treatment, word of honor, good business reputation, honesty, and the spirit of teamwork, he approaches his business with an open mind and a practical understanding of work dynamics.
“The hotel is like a music band. Every musician has a role to play. Kung drummer ka, you play the drums. Kung guitarist ka, you only play the guitar. A drummer cannot be a guitarist or vice versa. If every musician plays his (designated) role well, the music band will produce good music.
“In a hotel, everyone has a specific role. There is no overlapping of duties. If each (employee) does his role well, the hotel will produce good service. Within this scenario, I am the coach who makes sure everything is done as expected.”
Injap’s idea of employer-employee-customer relationship is full of good sense and highlights in interdependence. What an employer is influences what the employee becomes, he starts.
“Kung paano i-treat (sang boss) ang employees, that’s how they’ll also treat their customers. Whatever culture is developed (in the work environment) will also be the same culture the employees will transfer (to other people). If the employer is rude and hostile, the employees will also be the same as they relate with their clients.” In his business concerns, Injap strives to be positive and cool, and not one to succumb to pressure or emotions.
While Food Season and Holland Pure are offshoots of the Four Season Hotel, Mister Labada, however, is Injap’s brainchild and exclusively his own. How does it differ from the other laundrymats? Well, he says it operates state-of-the-art laundry and dry-cleaning machines which are the first of its kind in town and in the region. There are three outlets scattered todate in the city.
Most recently, Injap found another partner to permanently help him in his own business: 21-years-old Shella Ang of Kalibo, Aklan whom he wedded in style. She is Ryan Ang’s sister and Injap’s love since their high school days at the Iloilo Chinese Commercial High School. A young lady who earlier took up economics, she will handle Mister Labada and the photo developing shop’s finance and accounting as well, and help him maintain a balanced lifestyle fashioned after Injap’s own idea: neither poor nor extravagant.
Where does Injap go from here? His priority agenda is to take up crush courses in business management in order to enhance his management skills. Taking off from a definition of his ultimate goals, which is to see his parents retire from hard work five years from now, by this he means he wants to provide them the pleasure of having the time and money to do whatever they want at anytime. That he says is the true wealth he aims to give them. “Gustong-gusto ko makabalus sa ila. After I have accomplished this, I will work for my own benefit. That is my source of fulfillment.”