ALTHOUGH Lester Codog discovered how to make cars look better through foil wraps in Dubai, his first business venture was not related to cars at all.
“I was into landscaping and I was very popular in Dubai in landscaping. I became popular there. There were only three companies [doing landscaping]and I’m one of them up to Abu Dhabi, Qatar,” he said.
In Dubai, Codog had three neighbors from Germany who were into wrapping cars for industrial use. The Germans, whose office and warehouse were near Codog’s, were bidding to wrap 2,700 vehicles of the military and police in Dubai.
“It was only for industrial usage [like]ambulance, police cars, nothing like luxury. It’s [automotive foil]was not built for that from the beginning because ideally, it’s so funny to really put sticker or foil on your car. Usually it’s the post office, Federal Express,” he said.
Although the German businessmen lost the contract to wrap foil on the 2,700 vehicles of Dubai, they exhibited in a trade show a Lamborghini that was wrapped like a police car that caught the attention of Sheikh Abdullah, one of the highest-ranking officials in the United Arab Emirates.
The Sheikh requested the Germans that his Lamborghini be wrapped in attractive autofoil, which in turn became the first high-end vehicle to be wrapped in autofoil. Matte gold was the color of choice of the Sheikh.
Autofoil soon formed part of Codog’s exit plan from Dubai after the city’s economy turned bad but he was aiming for Singapore, not the Philippines.
“Dubai hit the ceiling already, it was going down, the economy was going down. I was panicking, nobody pays on time already, everybody was running away. That was in 2008,” Codog said.
“So I was thinking of what product I have to bring out or open in a different country just to continue my business. Instead of me injecting more money in the company [in Dubai]which everybody should [do], everybody pulled out money from Dubai,” he added.
Tea, cacao and automotive foil were the three businesses that eventually formed Codog’s exit plan from Dubai.
But it was the automotive foil business that boomed, not in Singapore, but in the Philippines.
“I did not push the tea and cacao because Foilacar boomed,” Codog said.
“We are one of the first people who are doing this worldwide. We are not following America or Europe. It all started in Dubai,” he added.