By: Michael Galvez – 8 June 2016
When one speaks of the revered Guimaras mango, it is hard for the Mcnester brand not to find its way into the conversation. Having been assigned the business with my partner, Fedora, we were eager to meet the owner and find out how established Mcnester was already, having been told that it was one of the bigger companies on the island. Apart from knowing that it was a food production and processing business, we knew little else, as did many of us when assigned our businesses.The Mcnester gift shop and receiving area for visitors.
The Mcnester gift shop and receiving area for visitors
A small group of us, including myself without my business partner, has previously visited their facility in the Barangay San Isidro of Buenavista. We were intrigued by its remote location and upon arriving, we were greeted by owner Rebecca Tubangnuan’s husband, who was initially unaware of who we were. Having introduced ourselves and confirming with his wife, who was not there are the time, we were immediately treated to some of their products, of which included their dried mango and calamansi juice. We were also fortunate to have received answers to many questions that we were initially going to ask Rebecca herself, some of which included when they started (2003), their initial capital (P7000) and many other pieces of information pertaining to the business, including the growth of Mcnester in the initial development of one new product per month since their beginning.
Mcnester products on display at an Iloilo supermarket
On the day of meeting Rebecca herself, one thing stood out to me in terms of the business itself: the degree to which it was already well-established and organized. Quoting Rebecca herself, she mentioned to us: “Unlike the other businesses you see here, I already have my mission and vision statement”. She was articulate and comprehensive on her introduction of the business and on her answers to our questions, to which we were impressed and excited to meet at the facility the next day.
Having been to the facility already, there were no surprises except for the overpriced tricycle fare that the driver, of whom according to Rebecca, knew we were foreign, extorted from us. Upon being brought into what was a receiving room for visitors/gift shop, we were immediately drawn to the shelves of trophies and awards for Rebecca for her achievements, participation, placing in competitions etc. We were even more impressed at the meticulously ordered and organized documentation of everything from newspaper excerpts, to photos of attended seminars, to previous product labels and packaging. We could also observe the production process and facility from the room and noticed both the technology used to dry the mangoes and the very manual process of making and packaging other products.
Once treated to some dried mango and mango juice again, we were able to discuss and discover more aspects of the business, which reaffirmed Rebecca’s extensive knowledge of mangoes, as shown in the many awards and recognition as a ‘Magsasaka Siyentista’ (A farming scientist), combining the knowledge of the mango with her chemistry background from college. One aspect of her business which we were particularly interested in, which was also stated in her mission statement, was of being a socially responsible business and this is achieved, according to Rebecca, but the purchase of “reject” mangoes and other produce that do not conform to strict size and appearance requirements but still retain the same taste as an approved mango. Uses for these mangoes would be in mango jam, sauce and ketchup, all of which would not discriminate on the visual aesthetics of the mango, unlike their dried mango product, which only uses mangoes that are of size and appearance, whilst still using the flesh from the seed to create their sauce-based products, thereby promoting a “no-waste” practice.
Although we had been told in advance of a delivery that Rebecca might have had to do, we were surprised to have been offered to accompany her to Iloilo to do two deliveries and we were even more surprised to know that she often did this at most three times a week by herself, only relying on the help of the boat operators and drivers of various vehicles she took to carry, load and unload the boxes for her. She seemed to suggest that although it was hard work to deliver it all by herself, she preferred it to relying on a distributor and seemed to enjoy the personal relationships she had with her customers. We were very happy to have been able to accompany her, as well as thankful for both showing us some of the landmarks of Iloilo as well as taking us for lunch to an authentic favourite that the city is most known for: La Paz Batchoy.
La Paz Batchoy
Having discussed the direction in which to take with Mcnester with my partner, we are perhaps in a different position to others whose businesses are far less established and organized. Instead of shaping basic features of a business such as mission and vision statements, which she already had, we will look to build on what is already there. Aspects we aim to target include her marketing and the possible use of social media as a platform, customer analysis and how to better organize her receiving area and gift shop to accommodate more customers in a café-style setting.