Incorporated in 1997 as a family owned corporation of the Cheng family, Bounty Agro Ventures, Inc. (BAVI) was a small company with initial operations in Cebu and Davao. It was virtually unknown in the poultry industry. In 2002 the Cheng family engaged the present management led by the current President and General Manager, Ronald R. Mascariñas, a product of the country’s premier agri-business institution, the U.P. Los Baños and the Asian Institute of Management, with the mandate to launch the company into full operation as poultry integrator covering provincial Luzon, and the whole Visayas and Mindanao.
We were a small and new player in the industry and the threat of being run over by the giants in the poultry business was ever present. In addition, the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) where foreign competitors with better technology and huge capital capability can trump local integrators like us, made our prospects dim. We urgently needed to be innovative, efficient and quick if we were to thrive and succeed in the highly competitive Philippine poultry industry. For how can we even talk of providing for our people if we fail to find our niche in the industry?
Our business is not unique. There are many players in the poultry industry. Speed of execution was essential to our success. Management immediately undertook a massive and rapid expansion, and engaged the best qualified professionals available in the industry and embarked on a program to modernize operational capability and market expansion. It was critical that each branch which is separated from the Head Office not only by distance but by the geographical obstacles inherent in an archipelago has direct link to the Head Office and in real time. Management invested heavily in communications technology and laid down IT infrastructure. Within three (3) years by 2005 we were able to set up 19 full-operation branches nationwide, complete with feed mills, contract farms, processing plants, and a nationwide distribution network.
The company then started a new business concept – selling oven-roasted chicken with specially-formulated marinades. After a couple of years fine-tuning the concept and ensuring consistent product quality, safety and taste, the company launched in 2009 a new brand of roasted chicken: Chooks-To-Go, completing the entire integration cycle of the poultry operations from the farm to the dinner table.
We looked around for a bench mark for our stores operations and found none. So we set-up our own and evolved our own best practices. We engaged reputable service providers to service our stores. We formed a Store Maintenance Department. We set up the BAVI Academy under the Human Resource Department – an in-house Training Unit of qualified trainers devoted to operations training. We organized a Compliance Unit to conduct regular audit of our stores to ensure compliance to store standards and consistent product quality. The effort paid off with improved sales and the company winning several major awards, and establishing our niche in the industry. Today, Bounty Agro Ventures, Inc. is the country’s second largest poultry integrator, and the number one roasted chicken company.
Those of you who have gone through the process of birthing, planning, executing, fine tuning, and streamlining a new and massive business venture with very limited time can understand the enormous demand to prioritize operations and processes. From day one of our operations under the present management we have always believed that a corporation’s greatest assets are the people that run it. The challenge for us was to translate that belief into concrete programs and policies.
It is almost a cliché when you engage highly qualified professionals – you pay them well. Yes we took care of our people, we had incentive schemes and employee engagement activities, but we wanted systematic well-defined people oriented programs and policies that go through the organization top to bottom and that measure up to international standards. The urgency to innovate and execute plans rapidly to be able to compete and succeed thrust itself to the forefront and pushed aside the programs we wanted to put in place. But the desire for these programs was always there, constantly gnawing at our hearts.
Our IiP journey was actually initiated by our President. He came across IiP in one of the symposia that he attended. It was he who gave directions to contact IiP. As we began to make headway in streamlining operations and greatly improved our processes, it was also becoming evident that there was indeed a major component that was lacking, and this showed in our stats – the people factor. And IiP provided just what we needed. We met with Mr. Gerry Plana and Ms. Janet Webster who in a sense took our hand and pointed us towards a horizon of great things we can do for our people, and our journey began.
With the same fervor and intensity that enabled us to grow our Chooks to Go stores from zero to 1000 all company owned in three (3) years, we thrust ourselves full scale into the IiP program, spearheaded by the Human Resource Department. The Management Committee met to discuss the program, the standards, and how to proceed. Working closely with IiP, we defined what we wanted to be and what our goals are. We created an IiP Leadership Group composed of Department Heads, Regional Heads and Executives. We mobilized all branches directly involving all the branch heads and unit heads. We took the standards to heart and identified key areas of compliance and areas of improvement.
Since a clear and well-understood Mission Vision & Values (MVV) is basic to an IiP accreditation, we set down to work on our MVV. Guided by IiP, the Management Team convened and defined our Mission Vision and Values. This aspect alone has revolutionized the way our company now operates.
Our Mission – is to provide freshly cooked food of the best value in every neighborhood.
Our Vision – is to be the preferred take-out store of freshly cooked food serviced by highly motivated and well-trained people.
a. Honesty and Integrity
d. Endless Innovation
e. People Oriented Traits
The MVV made everyone see a very clear picture. The bigger and more stable margins are in the retail segment. We will transform into a retail company retailing our own products. The commodity segment will remain as a backbone of our operations, but we need to shift at least a large portion of our sales to retail. This was cascaded all the way down the organization in the next two months, and everyone saw its wisdom. This was a liberating and motivating moment. The tug-of-war ceased almost overnight. Everyone saw the vision. We will become a retail company retailing our own products.
The BAVI Academy shifted focus to the IiP Program. Under the Leadership Group, we formed a Core Group of 21 select employees across departments who together with the BAVI Academy trainers we sent out to all our branches and operating units nationwide to cascade the MVV and the IiP program, monitor and self-assess our organization of more than 600 employees. We made sure the standards were in place, cascaded, understood and implemented in the organization. In six (6) months from June to December 2014, we got the IiP Standard Accreditation. We are the first in the Philippine poultry industry.
Before IiP, our decision making was highly centralized. With our compliance to the IiP Standards we defined, decentralized and devolved a large segment of our decision making hierarchy and processes to our regional executives, branch heads, and supervisors. And during branch level and unit level meetings, we have given everyone liberty to speak up and give suggestions.
Before IiP, we had 57 employee engagement activities. After IiP, we have so far undertaken 76 engagement activities. Before IiP, we only had one Sagip program. After IiP we have so far undertaken sixteen Sagip activities.
The impact on leadership awareness resulted in managerial and executive personnel becoming more eager to learn about people management and leadership behavioral change. The number of requests for leadership and people management trainings has doubled since October 2014. And employee participation in our engagement activities has gone up.
We have in place an I-Engage program, an employee engagement program of activities designed for their well-being and relieve stress from work, such as Wellness Activities (i.e. fun runs, family day, yoga, basketball); Valentines Program, Summer Outing, Halloween Party and Christmas party, all of which are company sponsored.
Realizing the value of affording employees opportunities for self-improvement, the company encouraged employees to set-up Toastmasters Clubs in the areas we operate. Membership fees and club registration fees are all company sponsored, and the meetings are held on company time. The response from our branches was quick. In the five months since we launched this activity, 13 BAVI Toastmasters Clubs were established in the areas where we operate.
With the IiP Standard accreditation, we can truly claim that we take good care of our chicken but we take better care of our people.
IiP provided our company with a highway where we can move forward as an enterprise of people who are making our business thrive, who are valuable and needed to know and feel that we are valuable. We will continue our journey on this highway with high hopes and expectations of great destinations that await us.