34 stories of successful people in motoring

By Alvin Uy, Charles E. Buban Philippine Daily Inquirer December 04,2019

A number of industry leaders became successful only after venturing into another career. Like an executive officer who used his skills that he acquired from a former job to build his own enterprise. Some rose from the ranks and started their new career with little experience but with a lot of determination to succeed and make a difference in society.

When in need of inspiration, take note of these industry leaders or game-changers. They may look like they are living fabulous lives these days—but it wasn’t always that way.

Here are a few automotive personalities who will motivate you to start putting more energy into achieving your dreams just like they did. They will remind us that through perseverance, grit and a little bit of luck, anyone can overcome hardships and achieve extraordinary success.

RAMON ANG

More than four decades ago, Ramon Ang was a working student who did odd jobs after classes to support himself, help his family, and fund his schooling.

After graduating with a degree of mechanical engineering from the Far Eastern University, Ang began a business fixing and selling used Japanese car and truck engines. It was during these years that he came to know Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, when partnered with Cojuangco’s son to sell aluminum wheels.

Ang then ventured into the trading of luxury automobiles and the sale of their hard-to-find parts. This passion for collecting and restoring vintage cars soon connected him to Cojuangco, who later, made him handle his cement enterprise in the north.

As one of the richest individuals in the country (with a net worth of $2.7 billion), Ang heads one of the nation’s oldest conglomerates, San Miguel, now a leader in food and beverages, as well as a major player in power and infrastructure businesses.

MA. FE PEREZ-AGUDO

Ms Agudo was just a fresh accounting graduate of St. Scholastica’s College Manila when she began a career in real estate. But after a successful 25-year stint, an opportunity came in 2001 for her to lead the distributorship of the Hyundai brand in the Philippines.

Selling a virtually unknown Korean badge in a market dominated by Japanese and American brands was no mean feat, But Ms Agudo felt confident that Hyundai has what it takes.

In just a few years, Ms Agudo made Hyundai brand a household name and Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. (HARI), one of the biggest and strongest automakers in the country.

More recently, she was instrumental in HARI getting the official distributorship of Hyundai commercial vehicles, trucks, and buses in the country, making HARI the only distributor in Southeast Asia to combine both passenger car and CV operations under one distributor.

DENNIS UY

Dennis Uy has never been in any rich list until this year when Forbes’ roll of wealthiest Filipinos finally put him at 22nd with an estimated net worth of $660 million (P3.4 billion).

A self-made businessman from Davao—family’s copra business and car dealership—just a little over a decade ago, Uy has made a big leap in 2007 when a family business of his, Phoenix Petroleum, became the first independent oil firm to list on the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) in July 2007 after enactment of the 1998 Oil Deregulation Law.

The petroleum business, established in 2002, was just the start of his fast growing conglomerate. Today, Uy has stakes in numerous companies—Family Mart chain of convenience stores, shipping and logistics company 2Go Group, hospitality school Enderun, restaurant chain Conti’s, as well as Dito, formerly Mislatel—including the chairmanship of Motostrada Inc., the exclusive general distributorship and dealership of Ferrari brand of super-fast and super expensive sports cars, spare parts, service, accessories and merchandise in the country.

Uy and his “empire” can no longer remain off the public’s radar—just recently, it was announced the he just bought nearly half of international petroleum giant Chevron’s stake in the Malampaya gas field in waters off Palawan.

ATTY. ALBERT ARCILLA

Atty. Arcilla would have been a successful corporate lawyer of some multinational corporation or even a staunch government lawyer had he not met tycoon Richard Lee in 1994.

A few months after passing the bar, he first served as a legal technical assistant to Peter Garucho, who was then tourism secretary who then later became, trade secretary during the administration of President Cory Aquino. Atty. Arcilla followed Garucho in Malacañang when he was appointed secretary of then president, Fidel Ramos.

When Garucho returned to the private sector in 1993, Atty. Arcilla came to Richard Lee’s attention who hired him to negotiate to get the distributorship of Volvo in the Philippines.

Seeing how he successfully negotiated the deal, Atty. Arcilla was later invited to join the company as head of sales. Eventually, after a few more years, Atty. Arcilla was asked to become COO, then as president and CEO. The rest, as they say, is history.

 

ROMMEL SYTIN

Amid the crippling effects of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, Rommel Sytin, together with his brothers, went into selling surplus engines and importer of used vehicles. The company, United Auctioneers Inc., soon became a full pledge auction company that sold surplus cars, commercial vehicles, and heavy equipment.

From being an importer and auctioneer, Sytin in 2006, ventured to exclusively distributing FOTON brand of vehicles that includes passenger vehicles, light-, medium-, and heavy-duty trucks, agricultural and heavy machinery.

Since then, Sytin’s United Asia Automotive Group Inc. (UAAGI), has been the exclusive distributor of Foton commercial vehicles in the country. His company even built an 11-hectare assembly plant in the Clark Freeport Zone, with the aim of establishing an ISO-certified assembly facility for its line of commercial vehicles by employing a sizable workforce of Filipino engineers and technical personnel.

FELIX ANG

CATS Motors was a mere accessories shop along Araneta avenue—the initials stand for Car Accessories Tires and Servicenter—when Felix Ang established his “empire” in 1989.

It was a business he knew so well considering he grew up around accessories shop, memorizing every spare part of a vehicle.

A few years later, he realized that he needed to shift to another endeavor—that of becoming the authorized Mercedes-Benz worksho in 1990 and then the authorized dealer of Mercedes-Benz brand of luxury vehicles in 1993.

By 1999, Ang is already importing Mercedes-Benz vehicles. It was a bold move on his part but his notable background as a dealer of a couple of luxury vehicle brands and a good track record, as well as an impressive business plan, earned him the nod of the regional office to make CATS Motors, the authorized distributor of Mercedes-Benz in 2004 and then later, Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep.

By 2014, Ang helped establish Auto Nation Group to manage the importation and distribution of Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and RAM while CATS Motors, Inc. spun off into a dealership.

Ang continues to be a driving force in the Philippine automotive industry, earning a reputation as prestigious as the luxury car brands he proudly displays in his showrooms throughout the country.

ATTY. REGINALDO “REY”OBEN

ATTY. REGINALDO “REY”OBEN

Rey Oben not only heads Toyota Balintawak, Toyota North EDSA, Toyota North EDSA Service Center, Toyota Otis, Toyota Marilao, Bulacan and Toyota San Jose Del Monte—he also leads Obengers Racing team with his son Cosco that has been a dominant force in Toyota’s one-make-race ever since its inception, winning three drivers’ titles in the last five years.

Indeed, Rey Oben is one of the most powerful car dealers in the country today. He was one of the pioneering Toyota dealers when Toyota Motor Philippines decided in 1991, to look for a franchise dealer in the northern part of Metro Manila. Oben’s business interests extend to shipping, manning and agri-farming.

 

GINIA DOMINGO

Driving a Ferrari is an essential must-haves for the super-rich Filipinos. And who would not aspire for what is arguably the world’s most recognizable Italian supercar brand?

But with only limited number being made, Ferrari will choose which applicants will be allowed to shell out millions of pesos for the car. In this regard, you should set a meeting with Ginia Domingo, the new president of Motostrada Inc., the exclusive importer and distributor of Ferrari in the Philippines.

Before taking the helm of one of the most expensive badge in the country, Ms Domingo had the privilege of leading several mass-market brands : she was formerly president of Kia Philippines under Columbian Autocar Corp.

Indeed, Domingo is no stranger to the local automotive scene, having started with Toyota in 1998 as a marketing assistant before moving on to General Motors Philippines and Ford Philippines.

As one of only a handful of women who currently lead a local automotive company, Ms Domingo has amassed more than two decades of knowledge that should be more than enough enough to steer the Ferrari brand to even greater heights.

DOROTEO “TEY” SORNET

Who would have thought that this unassuming salesman of General Motors and Isuzu brands of vehicles would soon become the head one of the country’s largest multi-branded car dealership groups.

When GM and Isuzu brands left the country in the ’80s, Sornet, resilient as he is, decided to put up a used-car business with friends. Not long after, he found himself with the sales group of Toyota.

Today, Sornet is the Chief Operating Officer of the LICA Auto Group. He supervises at least 46 dealerships covering 13 brands plus 18 motorcycle stores.

ROBERT COYIUTO JR.

Robert Coyiuto Jr. got his first start in the Manila Stock Exchange, eventually starting his stock brokerage in his own name, Robert Coyiuto Securities Inc. The untimely death of his father, Robert Coyiuto Sr. eventually led him back to the insurance industry where he was forced to learn the ropes and manage the family business.

Today, RCJ, as he is fondly known by friends and employees, is one of the country’s most successful businessmen. His passion for cars led him to found PGA Cars Inc., which became the country’s sole and authorized importer and distributor of Porsche sportscars. Many predicted this venture would fail, as the country was not yet ready for cars of this caliber, but was in fact revolutionary, and paved the way for other upscale brands like Lamborghini and Bentley to enter the Philippine market, of which these are also under the PGA Cars Inc. wing. Today, the market is flush with high-end exotic luxury brands. The group now also owns a Hyundai dealership in Northern Metro Manila.

Aside from insurance, the local bourse and the automotive industry, RCJ has interests in energy generation and distribution, mining and oil exploration, petroleum, real-estate, food and beverage industries. Impeccably dressed in dapper Zegna suits, RCJ is a powerhouse success story of grit and determination overcoming insurmountable challenges in a highly dynamic and ever-evolving economic landscape.

ATOY LLAVE

Perhaps, the most popular car-bodykit fabricator in the country, Atoy’s keen interest in automobile has been the very foundation of his “empire.”

He once said that even at a young age, his imagination was very active as he often advises the older siblings of his high school classmates on how to distinguish their rides so they would not look like everyone else.

From high school up to college, Llave reaped awards in various auto shows competitions and in the process, found potential clients.

In 1996, he set up an auto paint shop business creating cars with unique palette ideas. But after two years he finally found his calling when he started using fiberglass to customize the front grilles, side skirts and rear spoilers of some of the vehicles he work on.

The year 2000 was his first recognition as a bodykit maker through winning the Best Bodykit award in the Trans Sport Show.

A-toy designs have claimed numerous awards at the coveted Transport shows for the past 10 growing years in quality and ability to create designs for any type of car, and will continue to be the inspirational leader for designs amongst the aftermarket and OEM industry.

He has gone on to build mobile kiosks, rolling stores, rescue vehicles, church shuttle vans, even zombie survival machines. His biggest, most ambitious project to date is the Salamander amphibious trike.

Between 1999 and 2000 he earned his first P1-million. This was when he was commissioned to customize vehicles of a top car manufacturing company. Even celebrities soon flocked to garage to customize their favorite rides.

You are doing what you want to do and at the same time, you are paid to do it. What could be more amazing than that?

Who would have thought that The Covenant Car Co. Inc. (TCCCI) SVP for Marketing and Morris Garages (MG) Philippines EVP and Director for Marketing and Communication Services was once a brilliant nursing graduate looking forward to her board exam.

LYN MANALANSANG-BUENA

After finishing her nursing course, Ms Buena decided to temporarily work with Scandinavian Motors Corp. or Volvo Philippines while studying for the board exams. Little did she know that she will be permanently part of the automotive industry—from being a front desk officer she soon transferred to customer relations and then to marketing where she would become the department’s VP.

Volvo Philippines and TCCCI are sister companies and both headed by lawyer Alberto Arcilla, who saw Buena’s talent and made her handle the marketing of Chevrolet from the brand’s revival in 2009.

BRIXTON AW

You must be a very talented entrepreneur to be able to sell just one brand of a specially formulated lubricant. And yet, despite having a well-defined and very specific target market, Brixton Aw’s X-1R product has become a household name among local automotive manufacturers not to mention, the aftermarket scene.

The brand he sells was an outcome of the advanced, environmentally friendly spray lubricant that was originally used to lubricate the crawler that carries the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s 5,500-ton space shuttle.

After being inducted as the the only lubricant company to be inducted into the Space Foundation/NASA Space Technology Hall of Fame, the company later developed a full line of standard automotive and specially formulated racing products bannered by the X-1R Engine Treatment Concentrate, a formula that treats engine cylinder walls, bearings, cams, rings, and valve guides.

The X-1R Corp. named its exclusive distributor in the Philippines—CreativeSparx—and with the leadership of Aw, the product became a hit that his company has become a consistent best performing distributor in the Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Middle East and Africa region.

Creative Sparx, Inc. is the world’s leading X-1R distributor for the last six years.

ADRIAN SPENCER YU

Adrian Spencer Yu begun his automotive career as sales agent at Honda Cars Makati in the ’90s. He then moved to selling luxury vehicles at PGA Cars (Audi and Porsche distributor) and later at Lexus Manila as the Japanese luxury brand’s first sales director.

When San Miguel Corp. formally announced in 2017 that it was buying a majority stake in Asian Carmakers Corp., then the official BMW distributor in the country SMC boss Ramon Ang personally picked Yu to the new SMC business unit called SMC Asia Car Distributors Corp.

FERDINAND RAQUELSANTOS

Ferdinand Raquelsantos started about 30 years ago in the auto industry. He was a production manager for Dai-ichi speakers and spent about three years before moving to Sanden air-conditioning where he stayed for about five years.

In 1998, a headhunter looking for a managing director for Sweden-based Autoliv contacted Raquelsantos. This company, which accounted for 65 percent of the worldwide market share for seatbelts and 40 percent for airbags, became key to Raquelsantos’ success.

When the local automotive assembly began to slow, this development prompted Autoliv to stop its manufacturing activities in the Philippines.

When Autoliv pulled out in 2008, he decided to continue supplying seatbelts under a new company he called called AutoFIR of which, the last three letters stand for his initials.

AutoFIR functioned as a logistics center to supply parts to local car makers with seatbelts imported from other countries, and also locally assemble seatbelts for certain low-volume vehicles manufactured in the Philippines.

Although Raquelsantos kept himself busy with AutoFIR, PhUV and his other businesses that includes an enterprise offering solar energy solutions, his heading the Philippine Parts Makers Association Inc. (PPMA), the organization of car parts makers in the Philippines.

Later, Raquelsantos became part of the domestic vehicle when he was elected president of PhUV Inc.

To uphold a competitive edge in the automotive industry, Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp., then called Philippine Automotive Manufacturing Corp. (PAMCOR), decided it needed to appoint a third franchise dealer for Metro Manila with the intention of strengthening its dealership network in the National Capital Region.

FULGENCIO “PAUL” CHING

Pamcor chose the group of Paul Ching and partner Gordon Teng who later established Citimotors Inc. becoming the local assembler and distributor of Mitsubishi passenger cars, light commercial vehicles, and trucks and buses.

But even before putting up Citimotors Group in 1988, Ching used to work with another Mitsubishi distributor, Union Motors.

Somehow this bond with the Japanese brand enabled him to develop some sort of loyalty that has been tested several times from the martial law years, to the Asian financial crisis, as well as political and economic troubles.

Today, Citimotors Group takes the lead of some of Mitsubishi strong markets including Makati (where company headquarters is located), Las Piñas, and Alabang.

ROMMEL JUAN

Rommel Juan is a fresh Marketing Management graduate when he started a fastfood company—Binalot Fiesta Foods—in 1996. A hit back then, that company uses natural, organic and biodegradable materials for food packaging to make sure they don’t contribute to pollution and the degradation of the environment.

He said that he wanted to make sure that his company contributes to the “green” campaigns in his own little ways.

So it was no surprise when Juan became an advocate of electric vehicles (EVs) since 2007. As then president and spokesperson of Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (EVAP), Juan led the first Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Electric Vehicles and Hybrid Summit in June 2017 in the hope of bringing to life the country’s dormant EV industry.

This gathered members from government and private sectors, local EV makers and carmakers, and representatives from Singapore, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand and the Philippines, among others, to form the Asean Federation of Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Industries.

During the Summit, Juan revealed that EVAP had submitted to the Board of Investments the Philippine EV road map for the next five years.

The following year, Juan again led the Philippine Electric Vehicle Summit in July, a very successful event considering major manufacturers such as Mitsubishi, Nissan and Hyundai have participated for the first time.

During that same event, he also organized the very first Electric Vehicle Drivers Advanced Training, a capacity building program advancing skills to ensure sustainable lovelihood alongside technological changes.

GEORGE BLAYLOCK

George Blaylock has long list of automotive firms that he now heads including Diamond Motor Corp., a pioneering (established in 1969) and one of the most successful Mitsubishi vehicle dealerships in the country.

But apart from overseeing the six full service Mitsubishi outlets in Metro Manila, Blaylock is also expanding his reach as he recently led the inauguration of the country’s first dedicated dealership for Fuso trucks in 2016—a fitting achievement considering Blaylock started as a dealer for Fuso trucks in 1969 and for the next 50 years.

In 2014, Blaylock has set his sights on introducing other formidable auto brands in the Philippines when his group got into business with Tata Motors from India and set up Pilipinas Taj Autogroup (later renamed as Pilipinas Autogroup Inc.).

A year later, Blaylock also helped bring Dongfeng—one of China’s biggest automotive conglomerates—to the country through his company, Pilipinas Autogroup Inc.

EGMIDIO “EDDIE” JOSE

Eddie Jose became an entrepreneur at the encouragement of his mother who had to put up a modest textile shop in Divisoria to augment family income (where Jose would help during the day while he studied as night).

This humble background would prove helpful when Jose founded and chaired VSO Group of Companies, a group of original equipment manufacturers supplying the automotive industry with localized parts since 1977.

Under this group is Valerie Products Manufacturing Inc., which fabricates automotive components for domestic consumption and for export.

Heavily involved in the automotive parts industry, Jose soon became the chairman of the Philippine Parts Maker Association (PPMA) and Chairman Emeritus of the Toyota Suppliers Club.

This young entrepreneur came on the scene in 1995 when German auto giant Volkswagen and Warren Buffet-backed Chinese carmaker BYD Co. Ltd. (Build Your Dream) announced their entry into the Philippine car market.

MARK ANDREW TIENG

As the Managing Director of Solar Transport and Automotive Resources Corp./BYD Philippines, the youthful Tieng saw the potential of the Chinese company in the emerging green energy revolution.

Starting with just three conventional gasoline powered but tech-laden models (a sedan that could be remotely driven), Tieng’s company is now leading the market in offering electric lithium ion-powered forklifts that are changing the industry in logistics by offering more efficient and environment-friendly technology than lead acid-powered ones.

There’s also the 7-seater plug-in electric hybrid executive SUV BYD Tang as the latest addition to its present roster of three electric and hybrid models, which incidentally were all sold out, proving the market demand.

No wonder, BYD Philippines was recognized as having the best marketing and after-sales service in Southeast Asia, among all other BYD distributors last year.

WILLY TEE TEN

Willy Tee Ten graduated as a chemical engineer, had no inkling about cars and does not even own a car then. But when his grandfather’s distillery and ethanol business closed amid the Asian financial crisis in 1997, a friend invited him to apply to be a dealer of Ford.

Despite having no background in the business, Ford awarded him Ford Makati along Pasong Tamo Extension in 1999.

With fresh concepts setup within the facility—there’s a bar inside for enthusiasts—the Ford dealership in Makati boomed, prompting Tee Ten to move to a bigger location in Global City, Taguig. He then setup a second one in Davao in 2000, followed by one in Cagayan de Oro in 2002, and another in Manila in 2004.

Always looking to push his limits, Tee Ten then did what was then unthinkable as he ventured into dealerships of other car brands.

Somehow, he popularized “multi branding” not just for dealers but for distributors as well.

After Nissan, BMW, Hyundai, Mazda, and even iconic Italian Vespa scooters Piaggio and Gilera, he then added to his “empre” MINI, Rolls-Royce and Lotus, three iconic British cars.

His Autohub Group also distributes Piaggio Ape three-wheel vehicles, and V-Kool window tints. He then added, Autohub Car Care Services that purvey premium body and paint and mechanical/electrical repairs and accessories. He also has Click Car Rental and Leasing.

As a way of giving back, he set up Autohub Institute of Technology a Technical Vocational Institution which undertake specialized training activities for TESDA accredited programs such as Automotive Servicing NC I, Automotive Servicing NC II. He even sponsors qualified mechanics of the Autohub Group to receive training abroad from all the car brands that he sells and distributes.

ELIZABETH “BETH” LEE

In the past, many entrepreneurs chose to accumulate wealth in the private sector and become philanthropists later in life.

However, these days, a number of these entrepreneurs realized that they can work to improve social issues through their businesses. Here in the Philippines, one of these leaders is Ms Beth Lee, founder and CEO of EMotors, Inc., an e-mobility company and makers of ZüM, a three-wheeled electric vehicles targeted to serve small-, medium- or large-enterprise as well as individuals planning to start a business.

Ms Lee is one of the most recognizable names in the automotive industry as she has been Universal Motors Corp.’s (UMC-NISSAN) COO for 12 years, as well as the youngest and first female president of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines (CAMPI) for seven years.

An awardee of The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service ( TOWNS ) and former VP of the Management Association of the Philippines, Ms Lee wants to work toward improving communities through core principles of environmental responsibility, poverty alleviation and job creation.

ALEC SANTOS/RENAULT TAN

Alec Santos and Renault Tan are literally a story of rags to riches—their business began when they started to sell detailing products, Meguiar’s (for Santos) and Mother’s (for Tan) and from the dirty rags wiping of the grease and grime from cars, these two made a fortune distributing some of the country’s best and most popular detailing products in the market.

After finishing college in London, Santos first business was into interior design and construction. But his love for cars and attention to detail led him to distribute one of America’s most popular car detailing brand.

Simex Trading, where Santos is president, distributes Meguiar’s brand of auto detailing brand, which is now a regular in all of the country’s major auto shows and custom car scene.

TONY ANG

After spending years working in their parents’ shop, siblings Tony and Felix Ang (of CATS Motors) decided to start a trading company in the ’80s.

But as Felix moved on to selling car accessories and then later, luxury cars, Tony went on to establish Tiara Commercial and Industrial Corp. one of the country’s biggest tire distributors carrying Continental, Kumho Tire, Michelin, and Doublestar brands.

RENE NUÑEZ

Rene Nuñez is car enthusiast by heart, a reason why he put up Autosport, a body and paint and detailing shop in Makati.

Servicing premium cars, this banker and COO of a subsidiary of a listed gaming company would soon find himself joining the company that sells the luxury car brand he most admire: Mercedes-Benz.

Nuñez eventually invested in Cats Motors and was one its directors prior to 2015, when he was finally appointed president of CATS Motors, taking over the position long held by his long-time friend, Felix Ang.

HENRY CO

Henry Co is one of the success stories in the Philippine automotive industry. He held various posts in the Philippine automotive industry. He worked for Nissan Motor Philippines, then Ford Asean, then finally Ford Group Philippines as manufacturing director, president and eventually chairman. Probably his brightest moment in the automotive industry is steering Ford Philippines to be the first and only company to export Philippine-assembled completely-built up vehicles: the Escape SUV and Lynx sedan. These were shipped to our ASEAN neighbors. Co is currently a governor of the Philippine Board of Investments

JOHNNY TAN

Johnny Tan made his fortune selling surplus auto parts with his Kilton Motors becoming a giant in the local market.

Though he didn’t make a name as a race car driver, he made it big in the business side of motoring. He put up the Batangas Racing Circuit and the Clark International Speedway, an achievement that earned him the tag as the Czar of Philippine Motorsports. He also established the annual Golden Wheel Awards to honor those who excelled in various four-wheel and two-wheel events.

ROBERT TAN

Robertson Tan started working for his uncle who owns Miles and Levels, when he decided to establish Blade Auto Center in 2004.

With over 50 locations nationwide, Blade Auto Center is now the biggest in the country, providing a wide selection of auto parts, accessories, maintenance and supplies, as well as motorcycle accessories, bicycle, scooters and other mobility products.

CARL CUNANAN

Carl Cunanan’s passion led him to be one of the founders of the country’s longest running and highly successful car enthusiast magazine (C! Magazine).

Aside from being in the publishing business, he is the only juror in the country for the following International Awards bodies: International Engine+Powertrain of the Year Awards, Vehicle Dynamics International Awards, Future Mobility of the Year Awards, KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology), and Professional Motorsports World Awards.

Apart from this list of ever-growing responsibilities in the auto industry, Cunanan is also the Editor of Calibre Magazine, as well as a columnist here at Inquirer Motoring.

ALVIN DEE

Alvin Dee heads HLT International, Inc., distributor of DuPont Refinish, a global brand of automotive refinish systems, now rebranded as Cromax.

Passionate about car restoration, Dee is also an accomplished BMW Motorrad-certified instructor (he passed the IIA Certification Program conducted in the Philippines this year).

ALEX ISIP

If you are an ultra-rich fellow and want to have your ultra expensive ride repaired and restored, then you should know where to find Alex Isip of Alex Restoration.

Restoring specialty cars and collectibles at his shop in Quezon City, Isip is perhaps the winningest custom and classic car restorer in the market today.

He credits his father for leading him to this line of work: as a young 13-year old, his father would often assign him to clean their car or supervise the repainting or servicing of the unit.

Just recently, he recently partnered with AutoHub Group to put up a commercial body paint and repair center, thus, expanding his market reach.

WILLIAM HERRERA

A Formula 1 racing and motorsport enthusiast, William Herrera decided to share his passion with others when he put up Red Rock Travel, a travel agency specializing in packing F1 and MotoGP tours, the only agency of its kind in the country.

With Red Rock Travel, the company could create for their Philippine clients their ultimate motorsport experience.

JP AND JEANETTE TUASON

JP Tuason was part of a racing dynasty, being the son of the late racing legend Arthur Tuason. They were racing as a family and had a flourishing Automotive paint business called the Wetlook.

Sadly in 1996 the elder Tuason was diagnosed with leukemia and died two weeks later. His untimely passing left a big void and became key to the demise of the businesses he has established.

Continuing his passion through the kindness of friends of his Dad like Judes Echauz of Standard Insurance, JP would meet in 1997, his future wife Jeanette, who was a college junior from UP Diliman. Jeannete acumen in organizing events led the two to put a karting clinic in 1999 to make motorsports—regarded at the time as an elitist sport—a lot more accessible to the public.

When they got married, JP went on to work for a chemical company while Jeanette remained at home. But both had other plans—JP decided to quit his corporate work and gambled their lifesaving into a research trip around the United States on the different racing program and schools so he could establish what is now Tuason Racing School or TRS.

As the first professional and systematic racing program in the country where all materials were provided, TRS started teaching people how to race karts, then cars. Starting with just four Honda Civics, 10 Ford Lynx, Ford Fiesta were soon added.

These days, TRS takes charge of one of the biggest grid in Asia with the Toyota Vios Cup and is about to launch a regional single seater program called the Formula V1. Aside from organizing races, TRS also hold classes for superbikes called the California Superbike School in the region and manufacture race cars. TRS also holds road safety programs for all ages.

CARLOS GONO

CARLOS GONO

From running a side-hobby car repair and tuning shop, Carlos Gono is now the country’s sole authorized distributor for MOTUL lubricants from France, as well as RAYS Engineering/Volk Racing from Japan. A patron of local motorsports and now co-principal of the flagship BMW dealership that will soon to open in Greenhills, Gono is regarded as “officially the fastest man in the Philippines” thanks to his infamous highly modified Ford GT.

EDBERT TIU

Edbert Tiu is your typical quiet low-profile businessman who hides from the limelight, focusing instead to work hard at promoting & selling his brands.

His background has always been in the automotive industry, particularly in the mobile audio electronics segment with his family business. An opportunity came to start fresh and solo, & Edbert took it. Working with his own family, they have in such a short period of time officially brought in world-class automotive brands that are OEM-approved including SONAX, PIAA, CTEK and Blaupunkt.

Aside from the automotive segment, their family business also handles mobile phone gadgets & accessories, as well as home, personal audio, and professional grade audio equipment.

SAMMY LIUSON

It was in 2002 when Sammy Liuson tried his luck on selling aftermarket wheels and tires in his shop along Santolan Road in San Juan. He came up with 17- to 20-inch wheels when the 15-inch wheels were the standard for Japanese and American sedans.

Back then, similar shops would not lay a bet on such product offerings believing very few or no car owner would love fitting such on their beloved cars.

But Liuson saw such a trend coming in the Philippine market. In fact, just two years later his shop introduced 22- to 26-inch chrome wheels.

By 2006, Liuson’s Wheel Gallery Inc., was already a big name in the automotive aftermarket scene—coming out in radio shows and even had a segment on a popular automotive TV show. His company’s Nitto brand of tires was even named as the official tires of the Philippine Touring Car (PTCC) and Philippine Production Car Championships (PPCC) in 2009.

In 2011, his shop became the exclusive and authorized representative of BBS GMbh, Carlsson Autotecnik GMbh and Kelleners Sport GMbh to service the aftermarket needs of Mercedes-Benz and BMW enthusiasts and car owners in the Philippines.

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