Monday, September 25, 2006

A & J Seafoods and Marine Products

If Aurora Capitulo Amagan has become a successful entrepreneur, it is because her apprenticeship began when she was only 12 years old.

Born to a poor family of nine, Aurora helped her parents feed her siblings by selling candies, tira-tira, halo-halo, leche con hielo, and fruits. She also assisted her aunt in her grocery business in Angeles, Pampanga. Her father worked as train maintenance crew and did not earn enough.

Although she was third to the eldest, she was the one who did more for the family, simply because she was the most hard working. More responsibilities were placed on her young shoulders when her mother, who was sickly, taught her how to cook for her siblings, a skill that she also used to prepare food for sale to augment family income. This same skill put her on the road that led her to her current enterprise.

Things seemed to happen to Aurora earlier than they do to most people. Married at 16 and widowed at 21, she found she had to rely on no one but herself in supporting her five children. She tried her hand at many ventures before she finally found her niche. She ran a restaurant, went into real estate sales and the beauty care business, curling hair and doing manicure and pedicure. She also became what is called a "viajera," bringing imported products entrusted to her by her late husband.

In Zamboanga, where she tried her luck in 1976, she marveled at the abundance of seafoods and marine products. She bought fresh sea cucumber and shark fins, and processed them into ready-to-cook ingredients to be sold to exotic Chinese restaurants in Manila. She also became a barter trader in Zamboanga until the big players came in.

In 1980, she went to General Santos City, where banana export was becoming a booming business. She forged a link with some farmers, agreed to provide them with seedlings, fertilizer and chemicals for farm products, on the condition that these farm inputs would be paid with the farmers’ output, which were then shipped to Manila. Many farmers benefited from this arrangement, and business was brisk.

A few years later, however, when shipment of farm products to Manila suffered due to several devastating typhoons, and delays meant profit loss, it was time to look elsewhere for other opportunities. This decision was also prompted by the entry of big corporations into the vegetable and fruit shipment business.

In 1990 Aurora and Jose, her third husband, joined forces to establish A&J Seafoods and Marine Products. Aurora initially contracted the stocks of big companies which were rejected by foreign buyers. These she sold in Manila.

In this business, nothing ever gets wasted, because although only 30 percent of each tuna can be sold for sashimi export grade, the rest can be processed into different food products. Now her products include tuna sashimi (all grades); seafoods (frozen abalone, octopus, squid, cuttlefish and assorted marine products); value-added products (longganisa, siomai, lumpia, tocino, sausage, embotido, barbeque, and patties;) and cooked fish loins.

A & J Seafoods has come a long way from the company that had initial capital of P1.5 million to a P40-million business in 2003. It now has 12 regular workers, three of whom are her children, and 50 to 100 seasonal workers.

Aurora recently availed of a Land Bank financing which she used for the ongoing construction of a processing plant at the General Santos City Fishport Complex. When completed, the plant will enable Aurora to double her production output and improve on the quality of her product.

In 2002, A & J Seafoods received the "Most Outstanding SME" in the Medium Category by the SMED Council.

A & J Seafoods has joined trade fairs, both national and international, in places like Greece and Dubai. Its market has now expanded to the US, Japan, Korea, China, Hong Kong and the Middle East.

When the firm was invited to display its products in the WOW Philippines exhibit in 2003, the organizers extended their stay longer than the required one week per regional exhibitor. It has also gotten a lot of mileage for being featured in the TV program The Working President.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Thursday, January 31, 2013 6:15:00 AM  

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