Uratex chief named Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines 2017

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Cushioning adversity with determination

NATIVIDAD Y. CHENG, chairman and chief executive officer of Multiflex RNC Philippines, Inc. (Uratex), the country’s leading provider of foam and various products, was named the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2017 in an awards banquet held last night at the Makati Shangri-La hotel.

The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2017Ms. Cheng will represent the country in the prestigious World Entrepreneur Of The Year awards in Monte Carlo, Monaco in June 2018.

Ms. Cheng was recognized for her decades of hard work, prudence, frugality and business sense that helped her build Uratex into a trusted, industry-defining organization with a nearly 50-year track record for quality. Today, Uratex is a leading provider of industrial foam, mattresses, food containers, textiles, monoblock furniture and automotive original equipment parts, including car seats, radiators and mufflers, among others.

Ms. Cheng also received the Master Entrepreneur award for applying sound management practices in the critical areas of the company including finance, business development, marketing, human resources and sales.

Ms. Cheng and her husband founded Polyfoam Chemical Corp. in 1968 with a capital of just P4,000.

Under her leadership, the Uratex Group of Companies, has developed products that are available in showrooms in 20 locations nationwide and over 1,000 retail establishments.

Besides direct exports to Guam, Australia and Asia, the company also supplies industrial foam to various export industries.

Other category awards presented were for the Woman Entrepreneur, Emerging Entrepreneur and Industry Entrepreneur categories.

Rissa Mananquil Trillo, co-founder and chief brand officer of Happy Skin Cosmetics, received the Woman Entrepreneur award for leveraging her personal insights and experiences from a career as a professional model to create a cosmetics brand that combined skin care with make-up tailored specifically for Filipinas. The brand revolutionized cosmetics, such that even doctors prescribe Happy Skin products for patients with sensitive skin. Since it was launched in 2013, the company has grown from five to 85 counters and 14 stores nationwide.

Lester C. Yu, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Fruitas Holdings, Inc., was named the Emerging Entrepreneur for establishing a market for affordable fresh fruit juices that catered to the mass market. Through his determination and perseverance, he was able to grow the business from a one-man kiosk into a group of companies with a network of over 850 stores nationwide and with 18 different food brands under its portfolio.

Jose R. Soberano III, chairman of the board, president and CEO of Cebu Landmasters, Inc. (CLI), received the Industry Entrepreneur award, specifically for the Real Estate industry. Mr. Soberano is credited for establishing a company to address the need for quality and affordable housing in Cebu, which later evolved to include residential estates, offices, condominiums and mixed-use residential projects. Today, CLI is recognized as one of the top local developers across the Visayas and Mindanao.

The recipients of the category awards were chosen from among 19 outstanding finalists representing enterprises from diverse industries from various regions in the country.

The other finalists were: Robert John L. Blancaflor (Robert Blancaflor Group, Inc.); Melesa D. Chua (CDC Holdings, Inc.); Levy V. Espiritu (DATEM, Inc.); Francis S. Ganzon (Bangko Kabayan, Inc.); Octavia D. Hizon (Hizon’s Restaurant and Catering Services, Inc.); Rommel T. Juan (Binalot Fiesta Foods, Inc.); Ricardo F. Lagdameo (Damosa Land, Inc.); Peter Ira P. Laurel (Lyceum of the Philippines University – Batangas and Laguna campuses); Maynard S. Ngu (Cosmic Technologies Inc.-Cherry Mobile); Ma. Estela O. Nievera (Cabalen Management Company, Inc.); Cristino L. Panlilio (Balibago Waterworks System, Inc.); Samuel L. Po (JS Unitrade Merchandise, Inc.); Charles M. Streegan (Pacific Traders and Manufacturing Corporation/HCS Management); Antonio S. Tan’s (Lion Commercial Corp.) and Lester Mark E. Yee (Esprutingkle Food Corp.)

SGV Chairman and Managing Partner and SGV Foundation Chairman J. Carlitos G. Cruz emphasized the importance of vision and innovation, saying that, “Now, more than ever, entrepreneurs are disrupting the way people do business, encouraging others to be more resourceful, ingenious and creative.”

“Our finalists understand the new paradigm – that the only way to manage and leverage on disruption is by cultivating innovation, both as a mindset and a strategy, in the same way that Mrs. Cheng has continually innovated her products to become a market leader in the Philippines.”

All nominees went through a strict financial data ranking system used by all Entrepreneur Of The Year participating countries.

The finalists were further evaluated by an independent panel of jurors composed of distinguished business personalities.

The panel was chaired by Former Philippine Prime Minister Cesar E. A. Virata, corporate vice-chairman of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. The other panel members were Senator Paolo Benigno A. Aquino IV; Synergeia CEO Milwida M. Guevara; Securities and Exchange Commission Chairperson Teresita J. Herbosa; Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary Zenaida C. Maglaya; Philippine Stock Exchange President and CEO Ramon S. Monzon and Xurpas Inc. Chairman and CEO Nico Jose S. Nolledo, who is also the 2015 Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines.

The Entrepreneur Of The Year was founded in the United States by professional services firm Ernst & Young (EY) in 1986 to recognize the achievements of the most successful and innovative entrepreneurs worldwide. In 2001, EY expanded the program and launched the World Entrepreneur Of The Year awards.

In the Philippines, the SGV Foundation, Inc. established the Entrepreneur Of The Year program, in 2003. Jollibee Foods Corp. Chairman and CEO Tony Tan Caktiong, the first ever Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines, went on to win as World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2004 in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Socorro Cancio-Ramos, founder of National Book Store, was named Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines the year after, followed by Lance Y. Gokongwei, president and CEO of Cebu Air, Inc.; Senen C. Bacani, chairman and president of La Frutera, Inc.; Wilfred Steven Uytengsu, Jr., president and CEO of Alaska Milk Corp.; Jesus Tambunting, former chairman and president of Planters Development Bank; Tennyson G. Chen, president of Bounty Fresh Foods, Inc.; Erramon I. Aboitiz, president and CEO of AboitizPower Corp.; Jaime I. Ayala, founder and CEO of Hybrid Social Solutions; Inc.; Ben Chan, chairman of Suyen Corp. and Xurpas’s Mr. Nolledo.

Supporting the program as co-presenters are the Department of Trade and Industry, the Philippine Business for Social Progress, and the Philippine Stock Exchange.

Official airline is Philippine Airlines.

Media sponsors are BusinessWorld and the ABS-CBN News Channel.

Banquet sponsors include Bounty Fresh Food, Inc.; CDO Foodsphere; Fiori Di Marghi; First Metro Investments Corp.; Global Ferronickel Holdings, Inc.; Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc.; Intermed Marketing Phils., Inc.; Jollibee Foods Corp.; LBC Express, Inc.; SteelAsia; Suyen Corp. (Bench); Universal Harvester, Inc. and Vista Land & Lifescapes, Inc.