Text and photos by Kap Maceda Aguila
LET’S face it: The automobile sector is among the world’s cutthroat industries where competition at whatever price point is equally intense. The passion to succeed is expressed in the commensurate urgency to generate sales numbers.
So when news broke late last year that automotive conglomerate Autohub Group made it to the country list of HR Asia’s “Best Companies to Work for” in the Philippines, it was not taken lightly by Autohub founder and head Willy Q. Tee Ten. HR Asia is the continent’s “largest circulating publication for senior HR professionals.”
On Feb. 26, the multi-brand aggrupation celebrated the advent of its second decade in business by taking stock of all it has achieved through the years. Starting in 1999 with a Ford dealership on Chino Roces Avenue in Makati, Mr. Tee Ten and his colleagues have grown the Autohub breadth of offerings to include 13 car brands and seven attached companies/services. In addition to Ford, the group sells vehicles of Nissan, Hyundai and Mazda. Autohub is also the exclusive distributor of Rolls-Royce, Lotus, Mini, Piaggio Ape, Vespa and other brands.
He told BusinessWorld in an exclusive interview; “We’re super proud to be recognized as one of the best employers in the country, especially in the very competitive space of the automotive industry.”
Mr. Tee Ten added; “It’s not easy. To be a good employer, you have to sacrifice your margins, too, for the sake of the employees. But employees are a very important part of the business. We have people who have been with us for 20 years.”
A one-day exhibit at the Bonifacio Global City Amphitheater provided a better visual clue to just how much the business has grown through the years. Representative vehicles of each brand were on display; several panels listed the highlights for the group throughout the years.
“There were lots of ups and downs — lots of challenges. It wasn’t easy but, as they always say; sipag at tiyaga lahat ‘yan e [everything’s about hard work and patience]. Of course, luck also plays a big role — and a lot of trial and error,” explained Mr. Tee Ten to this writer.
Meanwhile, Autohub VP for public relations and marketing Owee Cruz laid out the range of motoring brands that the conglomerate carries, and said there is a transport product for every life stage of each customer.
Mr. Tee Ten maintained; “We’re very, very proud of the brands we carry, and we still have a lot of brands we’re looking at and are hoping to get. Even after 20 years, with almost 40 dealerships — we’re still just about to start.”
The organization recalibrates its vision under the acronym AIM (accelerate, innovate, move). The acceleration will be applied in the “number of happy customers,” as well as the number of brands and jobs. Innovation, averred Mr. Tee Ten, is about “adapting to advancements and providing choices.” He also talked about automating services as the group undergoes a digital transformation. Finally, to “move” means to be a mover in the auto industry.
“Our vision has always been to be the most sought-after automotive group in the Philippines, and we want to be well-rounded,” he said. “So far, we’re already into two wheels, three wheels, four wheels — from mass market to premium brands. We want to be as complete as possible… If you want a vehicle, we have all kinds in our portfolio.”
The Autohub head shared that the group has a strong presence in Mindanao and Metro Manila, and is looking at expanding its footprint into more parts of Luzon and Visayas. “We want to reach as many markets as possible,” revealed Mr. Tee Ten.