Mega Global Corp’s William Tiu Lim explains how he won the canned sardines wars
It takes careful quality control that ultimately passes the world standard to take a sardines brand to the top. It also doesn’t hurt to have a clear vision with blinding passion from the man behind the steering wheel.
William Tiu-Lim, the president and CEO of Mega Global Corporation, certainly had the dream and leadership to provide export-quality sardines to the public here and abroad. The result is the brand Mega becoming number one, as proven by survey certificate from AC Nielsen retail index. Relatively quick by industry notion, it took just about 15 years for the super modern brand to overtake the rest of the competition.
“The goal was really to become number one. Now that we are, we want to retain that and widen the gap,” grinned the tried-and-tested commander of the ship who takes pride in his company’s accomplishment that it achieved technically two years ago.
A number of factors led to the success of Mega as a household name, yet it all boiled down to the employment of a state-of-the-art assembly line that starts with proper catching to canning and then segueing to wide distribution and exportation. Lim has always been the guiding force to ensure that the brand is globally competitive with production efficiency as its cornerstone.
At the turn of the new millennium, he envisioned to provide Filipinos with a quality product to be taken care of by his fishing business. He made this strongly possible with the formulation of the innovative “12-hour Catching-to-Canning Process.” This essentially means that “the fishes are canned within 12 hours from the time that they are caught.” He also pioneered the fish pump technology in all of Asia, allowing fishes to be preserved at a constant temperature to minimize histamine development, and therefore ensuring freshness and top-of-line quality.
Finally, Lim addresses that age-old question as to why some Pinoys complain of being allergic to sardines. In his own scientific take, he said, “It’s coming from the freshness of the fish.” Having determined the root of the problem, the now-granny corporate executive reminded everyone working for the cause that “the fish has to be fresh.”
Getting past rough waters
After officially claiming summer last year that it is bannering the topnotch sardines emblem in the Philippines, Mega Global Corporation has strengthened its reputation as the leading manufacturer and distributor of canned goods. Apart from carrying Mega sardines that comes in variants we are all familiar with, it also offers other high-quality, value-for-money products namely, Mega Creations premium sardines, Mega Tuna, and Mega Prime canned vegetables.
Taking the cue from his finely ‘fishing’ mother-in-law, Lim started his own business in 1975 as a small fishing company in Bicol that supplies the local canners. Sadly or expectedly it took him a decade to stabilize it as initial struggles almost engulfed him. “In many instances,” he recalled, “I was about to give it up. You have to have the logistics to keep fishing afloat and experience had to lead me through that process of learning.”
All the right moves
In 1993, he moved his battered fleet to Zamboanga, a move that paid off as he instantly became a major fish-supplier to Manila-based canneries. And then he decided to go into canning operations using his team’s fresh catch. All the years of keeping up with the flow were bound for harvest time.
Thanks to a strike of ingenuity, the man launched Mega sardines in Easy-Open-Can packaging to take advantage of the market’s apparent inherent desire for convenience. Canned fish has never been that quick to serve and satisfy.
Employing around 3,500 people from his production plant in the south to the well-staffed office here in Manila, he shared, “I wanted to deliver a quality product to consumers that they will always be satisfied with. Ever since we started, the intention was to coach our people because by coaching we’re leading our personnel to level up their work and eventually deserve that promotion.”
Lim, who sits with the board for planning and business assessment at least once a month, has not stopped in improving his organizational skills. Over the past three years he completed an Owners Management’s course in Harvard University, basically studying about strategizing business turnaround and sustaining achieved growth.
His family of degree holders knew how special it is for the padre de familia to accomplish such feat and so the clan spent a much-needed vacation abroad with and for the captain of the boat.
An advocate of continuous learning, the amiable baby boomer championed a technical training school in Zamboanga himself, in partnership with TESDA.
For all his success in the field of business that now includes a hotel and a restaurant, he was declared Entrepreneur of the Year in the 2015 Agora Awards and was also cited for the same title by the Asia CEO Awards last year. He was recognized for steering a company from scratch and yet now boasting a fleet of 65 large commercial-scale fishing vessels and exporting the brand to nearly 40 countries around the world.
“Success is failure turned inside out. It’s the ability to come out with a strategy to not fail again,” he mentioned. “A Filipino brand can beat foreign competition by diverting from the traditional and braving the challenge of attaining excellence as determined by the highest of standards in the global arena.”