Ronald Mascariñas doesn’t just enter a room; he takes command of it but in a way that is not domineering. He looks everyone in the eye, shakes hands firmly when introduced, and makes everyone in the room feel welcome.
An epitome of a successful man the president and general manager of Bounty Agro Ventures Inc.—the nine-year-old umbrella company behind Chooks-to-Go, Bounty Fresh, and Uling Roasters, among others—he has also led the brand to exceeded expectations, while always keeping the good of others close to his heart.
While others may think that someone of Mascariñas’ stature was raised with the proverbial golden spoon, the opposite is true. Growing up in a small, obscure barrio of Libertad, Butuan City in Mindanao, he and his five siblings were raised by a strong-willed mother, who was a high school teacher. His father passed away when he was only eight, and at age young age, he and his siblings were given chores to do while taking care of each other.
“Every Saturday, I would go to the swamps to gather kangkong good for a week to feed our pigs. Once a month, I hiked to the river about a kilometer away to pull logs and haul it with a carabao to our house. I’d spend an entire day each month to cut the firewood and dry them. The work was never a burden to me, though. It was simply how life was.”
He is quick to give credit to his mother in the role she played in his life, and her difficult task to raise five siblings without a partner.
“Even with the meager income of a teacher, my mother sent all of us to the best private school. She made it very clear that doing well in school and finishing college are the only things she wanted us to accomplish, and then we can do anything we want. I never had a lofty dream as a child or as a young man, except to have a college degree and land a job.”
But Mascariñas went above and beyond his own expectations first by securing a scholarship from the University of the Philippines Los Baños where he earned a degree in Agriculture. Upon graduation, Pure Foods Corporation immediately offered him a job as Assistant Farm Manager, which he gladly accepted. Joining the said company when it was just starting its poultry business gave him the opportunity to take part in the planning, start-up and construction stages, which proved beneficial to his future in the agriculture industry.
From his very first day on the job, Mascariñas already showed an incomparable work ethic.
“On my first year, I worked 18 hours a day for 365 days without a single holiday or day-off. I never felt tired because work was exciting for me. There was never a challenge that overwhelmed me. During strong typhoons, we would work 48 hours straight exposed to strong winds and rain to protect the chickens.”
Again he points to how he was raised for having such a determined and devoted attitude for work.
“I look back at those moments with much gratitude to my mother who trained us to work and take responsibility at a very early age. Our mother inculcated in us to take great care of our reputation and repeatedly reminds us of the saying, ‘A glass that is broken can never be mended.’ I believe my mother was the strongest influence to the molding of my character as a business leader. The early demise of my father may have also strengthened my character, knowing that there was nobody I can turn to but myself in times of trouble.”
Mascariñas went on to work for 19 years with Pure Foods, which gave him a chance to hone his management and leadership skills through close association with mentors within the company.
Through his hard work, Mascariñas—who also completed a Master’s Degree in Management from the Asian Institute of Management, through the scholarship program of Pure Foods—went on to become the company’s Senior Vice President overseeing three businesses: poultry, food service, and the hotdog chain Smokey’s where he served as president.
His run with Pure Foods came to an end when San Miguel Corporation took over the company in 2001.
“The heavy burden of sustaining the livelihood of my people was suddenly on my shoulders. I just couldn’t turn my back on the hundreds of loyal people who served the prime of their careers in building the business of Pure Foods with me. I owe my professional success with Pure Foods largely to them. I knew their spouses, children and their beautiful dreams for their families.”
During the takeover, he was offered by the family who owned Tyson Agro Ventures, Inc. (now Bounty Fresh Foods, Inc.) to lead a new company that will grow their broiler business in the outskirts of the Philippines. The company wanted someone to help them transition to a highly professional organization and turnover a sustainable business to their next generation.
Always a man for others, he saw this as an opportunity not just for him, but for them as well.
“Among other options, the call of Tyson Agro Ventures for professional help seemed an answered prayer to the burdens of that time. Almost everybody came to work with me. In fact, most of my key managers and executives now are people from the previous company. I was able to sustain the livelihood of these people and they all worked with a kind of passion and fire I have never seen before.”
Running a company that has been consistently growing into success is definitely no easy feat. Under his wing, the Tyson Agro Ventures escalated into being one of the leading and fastest growing broiler integrators in the Philippines. Its roots traced back to Sta. Maria, Bulacan, the company is seen today as one of the country’s biggest and most reliable suppliers of value-added chicken products, fresh-chilled chicken and table eggs to hotels, restaurants, institutional companies, as well as supermarkets.
Now known as the Bounty Fresh Group of Companies, this conglomerate is the only fully integrated poultry company that has continuously invested in company-owned facilities. It operates more than a dozen hatcheries across the archipelago, four broiler complexes and 10 feed mills serving the fast growing requirements of its broilers, layers and pigs. The newly opened Tarlac feed mill is further considered the most modern in the Philippines today.
Mascariñas believes the company’s success can be attributed to the management team’s solid track record of competence, trustworthiness and fairness that has attracted entrepreneurs from all over the country to invest in them.
“We do not own any production facility. The multi-billion-peso worth of facilities for poultry farms, hatcheries, feed mills, processing plants and fleets of trucks are investments from entrepreneurs across the country. We organize and manage the entire supply chain, and allow entrepreneurs to participate in big business. The only way for us to sustain growth of the business is to ensure that everybody in the supply chain is happy.”
He is also a man who deals with problems head-on, “We always advise business partners from the very start that there is no perfect situation. Like any other business, we will encounter some problems in the course of doing business. What we guarantee is that any problem will always be resolved fairly with the interest of both the company and the business partner treated equally.”
Best kept secret
An hour with Mascariñas gives a quick perspective of what matters the most to him: His people. Just like those who have generously mentored him through the years, he pays it forward by making sure that his company’s employees are well taken care of so they can grow into the best versions of themselves.
“I owe my professional success to the people who worked with me and to the leaders who mentored me. Early on, I took it to heart that an organization’s best asset is its people. We can have excellent systems, high-end machines, cutting-edge technology, but at the center of all that—especially in a business with live products like chicken—it is our people who execute our directives, operate the machines and implement the systems that produce the results of the whole enterprise.”
He proudly added, “Our people should see a correlation of the company’s growth and their own personal advancement. We can actually simplify the equation. We take care of the people who take care of our business.”
Asked how he ensures to provide a positive environment for his people, he told The Sunday Times Magazine, “We make clear to our people what results we expect from each of them, the benefits they get with those results and equip them to attain those results. To explain further, we define to them what our goals are, and how these affect each one in the organization. We define key result areas for each unit and individual key performance indicators. We also set up a Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. or Bavi Academy under the Human Resource Department—a full time, in-house team of qualified trainers devoted to training our people with customized modules on operational efficiency and people development. Furthermore, we have engaged reputable third party resource providers in systems improvement and in people management standards.”
He also makes sure that their employees are well-rounded, adding, “The academy also has an I-Engage program—a set of activities designed for employees’ well-being and stress-relieving from work. For wellness, there are fun runs, family days and other exercise activities. More examples are the Valentines program, summer outing, Halloween party and Christmas party, which are all sponsored by the company.”
An asset they are most proud of is the Toastmasters Clubs. Said Mascariñas, “Toastmasters Clubs in the areas we operate have been established as well. Membership and club registration fees are all company-sponsored, and the meetings are held on company time. In just six months, 13 Bavi Toastmasters Clubs were formed—a feat that earned us a Crystal Globe Award from Toastmasters International.”
He continued, “We also have policies in place regarding study grants for qualified personnel who desire further studies and training. Five employees have been granted company scholarships to local and foreign schools.”
With this in mind, he finally told The Sunday Times Magazine one rule that every employee must have to succeed just like he did.
“Magkaroon ng malasakit—work as if you own the company,” Mascariñas ended.