From Corporate to Coop: Story Series 2
There is nothing to be ashamed of for being in the cooperative. As a big organization, there is more opportunity for you to learn and explore various industries. In IMG alone, we promote a work environment that is data-driven, we have weekly report where we constructively critic each other’s work.
From Corporate to Coop: Story Series 2
            When we talk about working at a cooperative, it almost always happens that the question would be “Ano ang ginagawa nyo doon?” or “What do you do in a cooperative or what does it do?”

            According to a blog from cooperativesfirst.com¹, “Every business is different and reflects the concerns and interests of their shareholders. Plus, corporations come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, from non-profits to global conglomerates. In fact, cooperatives are corporations, but with a specific structure that has a lot of applications.

            This versatile structure can produce a coop that looks a lot like a large, investor-driven corporation — or one that is very much like a small, charitable non-profit organization that provides community service.”

            In our Corporate to Coop Story series, we would like to hear it from people who have been working in a Cooperative setting and let them share their own story about their shift from corporate to cooperative.

Transition from Corp to Coop

Michael Gonzalez. Independent Manufacturing Group Head

            I am Michael Gonzalez, the business group head of Asiapro’s Independent Manufacturing Group. I am a graduate as cum laude of Civil Engineering from the University of the Philippines. By the time I graduated, my professor hired me as a structural engineer and at the same time I was teaching engineering in my alma matter. I was very fortunate at the time for working two jobs in such a difficult economic period. During this time, I was able to get my master’s degree in engineering from Stanford University. After my stint as structural engineer, I transferred to Phinma, where I started my career in the manufacturing industry. There, I was in charge of acquiring companies, running its concrete ready-mix operations, and I was the project manager of one of its cement plants expansion. After 8 years, I moved to DMCI as project developer for the first ever private water franchise known as the Subic Water. I stayed there for 4 years while at the same time being the General Manager for Montecito Properties where we developed the Montecito Village. Then I moved to Rustan’s where I was the head of engineering and store operations for 5 years while at the same time the Project Development Director for Sta. Elena Properties.

            For some reason I had this habit of having 2 jobs all the time ever since I graduated from my college degree. After this, I became the President of Vinnel-Belvior which is a construction company. My most noteworthy projects there are the construction of the new building in medical city, the bayanihan hall, and the construction of the operations building for Teleperformance. I stayed there for 5 years, after which I became the Head of Food Manufacturing of Ramcar Group of Companies. There I oversaw poultry integration when it started its poultry operations, which supplies chicken to KFC. I was also in charge of its dressing operations, food manufacturing operations, head of industrial park, and I headed the construction of almost all of KFC’s new branches in the Philippines and renovated the old ones. While doing these, I was at the same time the Director of a finance corporation, where I later on became the Vice Chairman and President, up-to-date.

            Looking back at, it is not a surprise if one asks why I am currently in the cooperative. When a good friend of mine told me that Asiapro was looking for a head of manufacturing, I was in awe that a cooperative would take such step to advance its business. We need not talk much really, whether it be in a well-known company or in a cooperative set-up, I would take on Toll Manufacturing any time of the day. Why? You might ask. Toll manufacturing is one thing I so strongly believe in, that if you harness the worker and give him reason to work well and you pay him well, he will definitely perform well, even better.
 
The Cooperative World

First Impressions

            When I first entered the cooperative’s office, my first reaction was that it was crowded unlike in my previous offices where they were palatial. But this did not bother me at all, as an engineer I am supposed to be used to crowded places, I thought, I’ll do well sitting on a bench chair, the same way I’ll do well in an office with a toilet and bath. As soon as I started working with Asiapro, I noticed that the reaction time here was a bit slow, of course it is, because it is owned by a lot of owners, which are our members. This is what I appreciate about being in the cooperative set-up because there is no singular owner. Everybody gets to have a say in every decision, personally, I have more opportunity to stand on my own and take care of the business that is entrusted to me.

The Independent Manufacturing Group

            At the time when the Department of Labor and Employment released an order prohibiting labor-only contracting, Asiapro took a bold move to change the old ways of supplying people that is “tao-tao” into a less risky, more productive, and legally compliant engagement. This is when IMG started. We shifted to Toll Manufacturing Agreements (TMA) in 2018 which focuses on the concept of “per piece system” rather than the “labor contracting” system – we are paid for output than manhours, making manual labor more productive.

            One of our first engagements under the new model was with existing clients involved in coconut and banana processing.  Prior to IMG’s take-over, the achievement rate of the plants were at 78%. After we implemented IMG’s model, our nut opening and banana processing plants, there was a 19% increase to a 93% target output – with production peaking at 111% at certain times. This was immediately replicated to another coconut processing client, which resulted to 11% increase in average per shift efficiency when IMG took over in 2019.

            In 2019, we entered into TMA with the pioneer banana exporter in the Philippines beginning with 2 of their plants in North Cotabato. From 76% operational efficiency prior to IMG’s take over, we had a 25% increase in efficiency, resulting in a 95% operational plant efficiency, with peaks of 146%, after we implemented our very own new efficiency techniques.

            These are just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. We are continuously acquiring more and more clients engaging in toll manufacturing, even obtaining additional plants from existing clients. This 2021, we are expecting at least 2 more clients engaged in coconut production and bottling of oil.
 
Realizations about the cooperative

            Having worked in the cooperative industry for more than 3 years now, I must say that cooperatives are progressive, in a way that members have bigger stakes unlike in agencies, because here in the cooperative, they are not just members but are also owners. All benefits due them by law are assured to be given and each gets what everybody else gets. There is a work-life balance in a cooperative, that coming from a corporate setting, I have yearned for such a long time. Now that I am in the cooperative, I get to do my hobbies which I did not enjoy while I was in the corporate industry, and I get to spend more time with my family and dogs. For our members, this is very much important for someone who is a minimum wage earner, when they get to finish work early, go home early and be with their families but still get paid the same as if they had a full day’s work.

Message to Future Cooperative Members

            There is nothing to be ashamed of for being in the cooperative. As a big organization, there is more opportunity for you to learn and explore various industries. In IMG alone, we promote a work environment that is data-driven, we have weekly report where we constructively critic each other’s work. As a cooperative, we use one of its foundations of being family-centric, we take care of each other as if we are part of a real family, and we make sure you will not get left behind. The same way, we take care of our members, we ensure that they are happy all the time, we give them their pays on time, their benefits, and incentives. This will in turn create a domino effect, when our members are happy, our clients are happy, then the whole cooperative is happy.