Nation Shoe Supply's Business Secret: Make Customers Happy
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In a competitive industry like selling tools, leather, and other materials to shoe manufacturers, the truism “keep customers happy” is the key to survive.
That is how William Lu, second-generation owner of Nation Shoe Supply, one of the pioneer shoe supply retailers in Marikina City, explains how the business has survived for more than six decades since his parents started it in the late 1950’s.
“Unang-una maganda ang relationship namin sa aming mga customers. Lahat ng mga kailangan nila sa kanilang factory, dapat meron kami. Kung may mga bagong labas na mga products na kailangan nila o hinahanap nila, as much as possible dapat meron kami dito,” said William, 53, in an interview inside his office and store near the Marikina Public Market on Dela Paz Street in Brgy. Sta. Elena.
“Ang presyo namin reasonable. Hindi kami basta-basta nagtataas ng presyo dahil alam namin na may mga kontratang sinusunod ang mga shoe manufacturers natin. So ina-absorb muna namin kung biglang nagtaas ang presyo ng aming mga suppliers. Ang importante, masaya ang aming mga customers kaya naging maganda ang aming relationship with them,” William added.
As the name suggests, Nation Shoe Supply sells almost anything that shoe (and most recently bag) manufacturers would need such as machines, leather materials both locally-produced and imported, tools, nails, glue, and a lot more.
Supplier of Heels
When the business started during his parents’ time, the store, at its former location (but still near the Marikina Public Market), just supplied the basic materials for making shoes – leather and other shoe components. The store also sold mostly heels for making stiletto shoes, which were made in a small workshop that his parents also owned.
When William took over from his parents in 1993, he expanded the product line to include machines, tools, shoe components such as insoles, accessories, and a wide variety of leather.
“Ang business ng parents ko started sa paggawa ng takong. Doon sa kabilang kanto pa ang store namin dati. Maliit lang iyon. Gumagawa siya ng takong para sa stiletto. From there, nag-evolve siya, hanggang nagbenta na ng mga shoe components, mga leather,” said William. “When I took over, nag-expand na kami ng mga binebenta.”
The store moved to its present, much bigger location in 2010, since the old store could no longer accommodate the wide array of products being sold.
William said they had to add more items in their store to meet the growing needs of their customers, mostly shoe manufactures based in Marikina City, known as the Shoe Capital of the Philippines.
“Kaya naman kami nag-expand ng products kasi mga customers din namin ang naghahanap. So pag naghanap sila, since hindi lang naman iisa usually ang naghahanap, subok kami na maglagay sa tindahan,” he said.
“Kasi dito sa Marikina, karaniwan, pag suki ka na ng customers mo, gusto nila one-stop-shop. Nandoon na lahat. Hindi na sila paikot-ikot pa sa ibang mga tindahan. Kung makukuha nila sa isang store lahat ng kailangan nila, mas ok sa kanila. Mas convenient,” added William, whose business acumen was polished by helping his parents in tending and managing the store at a young age and by finishing a business management degree in college.
William said he would not be able to keep the business running successfully without the help of his wife, Christine, a Mathematics degree major at the De la Salle University. Christine handles the finance side of the business, including accounting, purchasing and paying suppliers, as well as most of the paperwork.
During the interview, Christine, 46, would supply information that William could not recall. Her table is just a few meters away from William’s in the office located at the back of the store.
“Kaming dalawa ang magkatulong dito,” said Christine. “Ako sa office, sa accounting. Hawak ko mga paperwork. Finance.”
Christine said they did not have to start from scratch since William’s parents had already established a system in running the business, particularly on finance and other stuff.
“Hindi naman kami nahirapan kasi when William took over the business, mayroon na namang existing system dito. We just improved and developed it,” she said.
Their four children – two boys and two girls and all still in school – help out when they are not busy with their studies. The eldest, Liam, 22, is studying law at the University of the Philippines. The second, Ryan Timothy, 20 years old, is in his senior year in Communication Arts at the De la Salle University.
The third, Chelsea, 18, is a freshman college student at the Ateneo de Manila University taking up AB Psychology. The youngest, Christiana, is six years old and enrolled in Grade one at the Immaculate Concepcion Academy or ICA.
Aside from tending the business, William is also helping out the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) develop the supply chain for the leather craft industry in the Philippines. In fact, after the interview, he was set to meet DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez at an event at the SM Megamall in Ortigas.
“Gusto ni Secretary Lopez na matulungan ang mga gumagawa ng mga bags at sapatos sa ibang lugar (outside of Marikina) na ang gamit ay mga indigenous materials. Gusto ng DTI na ma-incorporate ang ibang materials upang umangat lalo ang quality ng kanilang mga produkto,” said William, who is also active in triathlon, which explains his well-maintained physique.
William also wants to help the Marikina Shoe Industry Office (MASIDO) train and educate more people in other places apart from Marikina in the shoe- and bag-making business. He said he is willing to put up stores in other places in the country once they have a stable shoes and bag manufacturing industry.
The couple also plans to develop an online store so that they can reach more customers outside of Metro Manila, which is also part of their advocacy to help budding entrepreneurs to develop their businesses in other parts of the country. If this happens, Nation Shoe Supply has indeed expanded its reach and has become available nationwide.
Number 4 Dela Paz Street, Sta. Elena, Marikina City
Telephone numbers – (02) 646-2125 and (02) 681-6896
Email address: email@example.com
(Photo credit: Alfred Javier of MASIDO)
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