By: Anchit Som
The light peering into this little cave from the blue ocean and the green expanse of Jagna, hold within it the spirit of its citizens that cannot be explained in plain words. Among the noise of fans, trimmers and a basketball game our client Ruben asks us “Do you know what Pangmasa is.” It was a response to an inquiry on what the mission statement or the goal of the Jagna Barber Shop was. In our attempt to understand this goal, we understood a way of life that encapsulated Jagna. Pangmasa, as Ruben explains, is the idea that a rich man, a poor man and a beggar can come inside his store to get a haircut and leave happy. Our travels across the city have shown me how warm and sweet people are, willing to carry heavy suitcases up the hills to offer help. Our adventures at the beach made us have Tuba(Coconut Wine) with a group of fishermen who shared their tribulations in life happily for hours. Jagna is for everyone, each of its citizens, it holds a beautiful meaning which binds them to the community. The shop-owners in the market crowd around to watch an NBA game as much as the children of Tubud Mar love to play the game every evening. Ruben looks outside for a brief moment and then lays his eyes on us asking for a word in English that translates to Pangmasa. The fact that there is no such translatable word in English makes me realize how the language never really developed to capture this way of life. While every business targets a specific niche market or target group, Ruben cuts across this barrier to create something for every target market in the local community.
The barbershop is his life’s biggest project and biggest achievement. It is an emulation of his dream to build something for the community of Jagna and the vision seeps into every aspect of his business. Ruben opens the shop at 5:30 am and closes at 11 pm priding himself as the only barber shop with such long hours of functioning. Scores of people stand outside the shop and wait for a haircut while the better air conditioned shops don’t have enough customers. The star barbers from almost all the competitors have quit their jobs to work for Ruben at Jagna barber shop. They bring with them their experience, energy, and more importantly loyal customers. As Toto one of the famed barbers cuts my partner Emma’s hair, he talks about how much happier he is here because of his boss, Ruben.
Before we could teach Ruben, Accounts and the theories of management in the structure we learned. He gave us a lesson in management and leadership which lies at the core of every business i.e to keep the employees happy. His vision of Pangmasa isn’t just the branding and marketing of the shop but the business mantra he lives by to take his most important decisions. Jagna Barber shop does not operate by cutting hair just like Starbucks does not operate just by selling coffee. It’s the environment of the barber shop that people came for many times. He writes down on the board with a red marker the numbers of the lottery for all the people in the barber shop to see. He puts on the NBA game, a huge craze in Jagna and openly discusses it with employees and customers. The smile on his face just never seems to go and this environment he consistently provides beats the bigger air conditioned suave barbers every single time.
Deeper investigation and introspection did give us some problems to work on as a consulting team. However, what we learned is absolutely invaluable and if Ruben was a Business Professor then we would certainly be studying the Pangmasa Business Model with Michael Porter and Peter Drucker.