He is Canadian and has worked in several countries through the years, but Darcy Lalonde minces no words as he explained why he loves doing business in the Philippines—“it has a very accepting culture for foreigners, and I felt most at home here. Living in other Asian countries you feel like an expat, but living in the Philippines, you could really become part of the country as opposed to an expat living in it.”
Lalonde is the managing director of Shore Solutions, one of the country’s fastest growing contact centers.
Lalonde said that he is proud to be a part of the dynamic company, even as he explained that it was really the result of the vision of his business partner Jonathan Smith. Shore Solutions started out in the Philippines as a small consulting business in 2005, primarily to provide assistance to companies wanting to offshore components of their organizations. At that time, Lalonde said that Smith was bringing in particularly the Australian businesses to set up offshore development centers in the Philippines.
“He kept helping people to set-up, but after helping them, he was done. So he thought it was such a good idea that he wanted to do it himself,” he added.
After all, Lalonde points out that “Jonathan is considered the godfather of Australian outsourcing in many respects when it comes to contact centers.”
At the same time, the company executives also saw the industry’s phenomenal growth in the Philippines and in 2010, decided to open up its own contact center and business process outsourcing (BPO) services provider. Lalonde said that the company’s aggressive growth continued along with the industry and in May 2012, new international investors came in, which allowed the company to expand into a new key business line and started offering Information Technology (IT) services.
In December of that same year, Shore Solutions acquired Rainmaker Asia Inc. (RAI), which is a leading outsource provider of telesales, integrated marketing services, and hosted e-commerce services. It was also the same year when Lalonde came in as part of the investors’ group. “I have some private equity funds, so I was looking for a business I could join up with and saw Shore Solutions,” he added.
At that time, he said that the company hit the threshold of capitalization that could drive further growth, and had stopped at 200 seats. He said what the company needed at that time was the infusion of more money and additional business acumen. Lalonde said that it was also around that time that he was looking for something to do, where he didn’t have to travel all the time after having been doing so for the last 25 years.
Today, the company has four sites in Metro Manila and has over 2,000 employees specializing in handling operations for Australian, United States, United Kingdom and Philippine companies. It currently operates in three key service areas, the first being the contact center services, which handles inbound customer support and technical services, outbound customer relationship management, campaign design, build and operations, sales generation, debt collection, and customer counseling, business-to-business and business-to-consumer inbound and outbound sales, and customer retention, among others.
The second is their BPO services, which handles back office processes such as accounting, human resources, payroll and regulatory advice, accounts payable and receivables, and remote IT support, including IT and infrastructure set-up. Finally, the third key service area is its IT services which include applications development and maintenance, enterprise resource planning services, and consulting services. Shore Solutions was also nominated “Fastest Growing IT-BPO Company of the Year” at the International ICT Awards in 2013.
Lalonde said that they enjoy tailoring solutions for their customers. What sets them apart as a company, according to him, is that they are multi-dimensional in that they allow people to come in, whether they want to completely outsource everything, perhaps others would want to co-source it, while there are a few who prefer some of the staff in their payroll.
This year, he said that they’ve changed their strategy dramatically. Lalonde explained that the voice side is a stable business, but it’s not a high-growth business, so they are looking at the non-voice, the IT services, and the whole side of knowledge process outsourcing (KPO). Shore Solutions has created three distinct markets, Australia, US and the Philippines/Asia, and develop specific sales channels for each of these markets.
The most enjoyable part of business is really working with good people and customers, he said. This also enables him to do other things like managing his own investment portfolio as head of DML Holdings, and speaking at forums such as the Asia CEO Forum last year, where he spoke of his company’s success in the country. He is also hands-on in running his own resort in the Philippines called “Kahuna Resort and Spa,” just off San Fernando in the province of La Union. Lalonde admitted that opening a resort is one of his passions and said that the tourism industry in the Philippines has so much potential for growth too. He said that he is definitely looking at more prospects to help tourism in the country, “because I want to be able to stay as much as I can in the Philippines, that’s why I am looking at different ways of creating business here.”