The trucking industry is usually a field dominated by men. It is understandably so, because of the work it entails. But sometimes, circumstances lead people to an unexplored career path, and find themselves liking where it leads to. This is exactly how Kristine Pearce found her “calling” to go back full circle and help run her family’s trucking business, and helped it grow to where it is today. Kristine is the comptroller, board member and one of the registered owners of Explorer Freight, a Philippine-based company that provides trucking and Customs brokerage services.
As she sat down for this interview, Kristine proudly states that Explorer Freight is now on its 29th year of operations, and they’re gearing up to celebrate their 30th year in 2016. Looking back, she says, the company has indeed gone a long way, especially because the business was born as a result of a career stumbling block that Kristine’s father faced. It was 1987 she says, when her father, a chemical engineer, was retrenched from work, and got a severance package of P90,000.00. But the same company he worked for, also gave him a small window of opportunity, by telling him he could provide them trucking services. “So he used that money to buy one truck, the office was our house, and his first customer was his former employer,” Kristine narrates. It was a difficult time for their family then, Kristine says, but through perseverance and dogged determination, their business slowly grew.
In 1990, they turned the business into a corporation, as their client-base expanded to servicing most of the chemical companies operating in the country. Today, Explorer Freight is into trucking, freight forwarding for international and domestic, and their single truck has turned into a fleet of 50 trucks. Their clientele had also vastly expanded, with a significant chunk of their business now going into servicing big construction projects. The soft-spoken comptroller says, “We move the steel posts for NGCP [National Grid Corporation of the Philippines], and transformers. So when you see those 100-ton transformers, we move them from here to Tuguegarao, Iloilo, and even remote areas.” At the same time, she says they also provide services to other big companies like Shneider, PLDT and Smart. Explorer Freight has also opened offices in Cebu and Iloilo, plus agents all over the Philippines.
Kristine credits her father for rising amid adversity and succeeding in the business, especially considering his very humble beginnings. “My father was a muro-ami fisherman, and started fishing when he was just twelve years old.” This is why, she says, she is just as determined to grow their company even bigger, with the help of her siblings. She belongs to the second generation, and since coming on board in 2011, she has implemented several digital upgrades in their office systems, such as getting NetSuite to deploy their cloud operations.
These upgrades are necessary, she notes, especially because she sees the trend of businesses becoming transformed by the power of technology. In particular, Kristin cites successful applications like Uber as game changers in their field. She says she would not be surprised that there will soon be an app specifically for truckers and movers like them, and she wants Explorer Freight to be ready when that happens.
Kristine says helping run the family business at first was not among her plans. At the time, she adds, “I just wanted to explore, do my own thing, so I worked for SGV Consulting in 1998 when ERP was a boom.” Soon after, she says she got hired by the tech outsourcing company then called James Martin and was assigned to work in the US. It was there she adds that she eventually met her husband.
After the birth of their daughter, Kristine and her husband went back to Manila for a vacation. It was also around the same time, she says, that they started considering their options of relocating to the Philippines. Soon after, her husband was hired by a multinational data analytics company, which had an office in Manila. Meantime, Kristine was asked by her dad to fix their company’s employee handbook, while she was here on vacation. From one handbook, she says, she kept finding other things that needed to be taken care of, and before she knew it, she found herself being actively involved in the operations, along with her siblings.
She would not have admitted it then, she says, but it turned out to be a happy transition for her, especially because her young child can be around family all the time. She has also managed to be active in their company’s foundation, where they distribute free books to their employees’ children every summer, in an effort to encourage the next generation to widen their horizons through books, so they can dream even bigger, in the same way her father pursued his dream, and was able to achieve it.