Most people normally choose the career or type of business they enter into. But sometimes, it is the business that they stumble upon that dictates the path they eventually take. This is true in the case of businessman Patrick Lawrence C. Tan, the founder and chief executive officer of Global-Link MP Events International Inc., currently the biggest trade event organizer in the Philippines.
While he said that he never had any doubt that he would become an entrepreneur, it is in trying to determine which business to get into that mattered for him. “The Chinese family influence is always very strong for business, so being a businessman is almost not by choice. I found this job in Hong Kong that was in this line of business that I am now in, and I was able to get my training there. A few years later, I brought the business in Manila and this is where I’ve been ever since,” Tan said.
Global-Link MP Events International is an industry pioneer in the niche market for trade exhibitions. It is this advantage of being one of the first to do this type of business in the country that eventually made them number one. The company stages and organizes around 18 annual events featuring various trade exhibits for the different industry organizations in the country. They normally hold them at the different venues created specifically for these types such as the World Trade Center and the SMX Convention Center, both in Pasay City. Along with it, the company also organizes business conferences as well as event management, understanding the need of the exhibitors for a solid promotional platform that would allow them to express, promote and share innovations that set them apart from the rest.
Tan said that he comes from a family of traders. “They’re into trucking, trading of various merchandise and even spare parts, all of which I’m not keen on doing,” he said.
He explained that he was fortunate that his parents did not force him to carry on with their type of business, but rather gave him the freedom to choose and build his own. Tan said that he first put up a company called Global Exhibitions in 1993. He then sold the business in 1997 to a British company and eventually bought it back again in 2003, this time with a partner, and renamed the company Global-Link MP Events International Inc. He considers himself “blessed,” because at the time he started, another company that was doing a lot of trade shows here in the Philippines decided to close its operations, about a month after he started Global-Link MP Events International. So there was an opening for various industries for them to go into, and the company hasn’t stopped since.
Tan said at the time the company started, they were able to help launch trade exhibits for industries such as printing, packaging, plastics, machinery, garments and textiles, which were still big at that time. Today, Tan said that there are at least three major industries that they deal with, and one of that is the construction industry. In fact, the company had recently had a huge milestone in early November of this year. Tan proudly stated that they “made history with the largest show ever organized in the Philippines to date—an event so huge that it covered both the World Trade Center and the SMX Convention Center—and that is Philconstruct. Tan said that they managed the event for the Philippine Constructors Association, which had been their client for 10 years now, and he personally witnessed how this show had grown to “leaps and bounds.”
Another industry he said that is doing good right now is machinery. “Again, this is into the capital goods manufacturing industries like printing, plastics and heavy machinery, which we’ve been handling for about 20 years now. The third one which is now equally large is technology, which include digital technology and electronics,” Tan added.
Tan said that they’ve always been lucky because the company has been successful in grouping the companies in the industries together. This also helped their industries, especially during scenarios where one industry is weaker at that time, and another related industry is stronger, and by doing trade exhibits together, they end up helping each other as well. A good example he said is the packaging industry where at the moment, paper is very strong, and the ones in the printing are helped by the current demand for paper packaging. Tan said that it’s also the same with construction where first it was the equipment, then the building materials, and finally there was the interiors.
Looking to the future
With the current trend of trade shows getting bigger by the year, Tan predicts this type of robust growth will continue at least for the next three years, before he sees a slight tapering off. He acknowledged that their business is also dependent of the country’s economy, and said they are now at the higher end of the business cycle. This makes him a very busy man, he said, but hastens to add that he is not complaining. With a little time management, he is still able to pursue his other interests and have ample quality time with his family as well. As a matter of fact, he along with his business partners are currently in their final stages of entering into the field of publishing as well. Like most entrepreneurs who consider a new business as having another child, he is extremely positive his new venture will also do well. But that he said is another story for another time.