Alria Shoes: From Mom and Pop Operations to a Successful Family Biz
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The 30-year-old shoe manufacturer of ladies’ footwear started as a mom and pop operation on July 5, 1988, with the husband and wife team of Alfred and Gloria Magtaos, where the name of the company comes from, doing everything from securing materials, doing the designs, making the shoes and then selling and delivering them to customers.
“Noong una, kaming dalawa lang ang gumagawa ng lahat. Mula sa pagsusukat hanggang sa pagdeliver ng mga sapatos,” recalled Gloria in an interview inside her office, just next to where the shoes and sandals are being made.
Gloria said the couple was lucky because one of their godparents in the wedding owned a store that sold materials for making shoes. The godparent would allow the couple to buy materials on credit, usually payable in five to six months.
Secret of Family's Success
“Noong nag-start kami, walang puhunan . Pinautang kami ng materyales ng aming ninang sa kasal at saka na namin babayaran kung nakapaningil na kami. Halimbawa, kumuha kami noong July, December na niya kami sisingilin para makapag-ipon muna kami ng pambayad,” she said.
From just the two of them, the business grew. At the peak of their production in the early to mid-90’s, the company made more than 3,000 pairs of shoes a week, several times higher than when it was just starting, when it used to make around 50 to 100 pairs a week. Its number of workers has also grown to nearly a hundred.
Alria was also able to buy machines and equipment to improve the quality of its products and to speed up production. Gloria recalled that when the couple was just starting in the business, she used to have the shoes sewn in other factories because they did not have their own sewing machine.
“Dati nakikitahi lang ako. After six months, nakabili na ako ng sarili kong sewing machine, ng scouring machine. Paunti-unti. Nagdagdag kami ng manggagawa. Nakakadeliver kami noong una 54 (pairs of shoes) a week, naging 100, 200 hanggang sa tumaas na,” she said.
With the expanding business, the couple was able to build a bigger house, where the factory and the office are now located. They also financed the education of their four children, who all obtained their college degrees in computer science, business management, hotel and restaurant management and economics.
The education of their children was very important for the couple because they were not able to finish their studies. Gloria said she married early and was not able to get a college diploma. She was in her junior year in commerce major in accounting when the love bug hit her and ended up marrying her husband, who also did not finish college.
“Lahat ng anak ko graduate ng college,” the proud mother said. “Lahat sila ngayon tumutulong dito. May gumagawa ng designs, may sa accounting and finance."
She said her children decided to help in the business after seeing her getting sickly, probably from the stress of managing the company.
Even with the onslaught of cheap imported shoes, Alria remains among the strongest shoemakers in Marikina, known as the Shoe Capital of the Philippines.
What’s the secret of the success of the family enterprise?
“Unang-una ang kailangan sa negosyong ito ay sikap, tiyaga, malaking pasensiya at lamig ng ulo. Kailangan mo ang pasensiya at lamig ng ulo hindi lang sa mga manggagawa kundi pati na sa suppliers, sa mga customers,” Gloria said.
For Ladies Only
Since the company started, Alria is focused on making casual shoes, sandals and other footwear for women only. Never for men, though one of the children is starting to venture into it.
Gloria said she was skilled in making ladies’ footwear that is why the shoemaker concentrated on it, a decision that really paid off. She explained that she started making ladies’ shoes when she was in high school. During those times, she said her father got sickly and could not afford to send her to school. So she decided to work at a nearby shoe factory in Marikina.
“Kaya ladies’ shoes kasi noong pagka-graduate ko ng elementary, gumagawa na ako ng upper part ng sapatos. Self-supporting kasi ako. Nagkasakit ang tatay ko at hindi na niya kami mapag-aaral. Gusto ko makapag-aral, kaya nag-aral akong gumawa ng sapatos na pambabae. Kaya na-master ko talaga ang ladies’ shoes,” Gloria said.
“Pumasok akong manggagawa. Ang kinikita ko pambaon sa eskwela. Ang iba binibigay ko sa mother ko,” she added.
With the success of the family business, Gloria can only smile at the memory of her younger self who was working in a factory just to send herself to school. Indeed, nothing beats perseverance, hard work, patience and a family working together as one to achieve one goal – grow the business for the years and generations to come.
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