Joseph Calata became one of the youngest chairmen of a publicly-listed corporation through a mix of persistence, gumption, and unwavering vision.
"Don't think about the money yet. Think about growing the business. The money comes at the end."
- Joseph Calata
He started with his family's small poultry supply store in Plaridel, Bulacan. But as a forward-thinking young entrepreneur with a lot to prove, he knew that he could make it even better. For Joseph Calata, the CEO of leading agricultural distributor Calata Corporation, this meant looking ahead and patiently laying the groundwork for more business opportunities and growth.
Road Less Taken
When the young Joseph Calata made his way back to Bulacan after finishing his studies in DLSU, he decided to manage his family's poultry supply shop the way nobody did: he used computers. This addressed certain critical issues -- the shop was not logging sales and was losing track of supply. This information was crucial. "It's the key to know how to grow your business," he said.
There was always room for improvement. Rather than focus on immediate returns, he set out to build a solid foundation for future growth -- and that includes dreams of paperwork. "It was difficult in the beginning. As you start to have more people, it becomes harder to manage. It's hard to align people with what you want to accomplish because they haven't visualized it yet."
To get everyone on the same track, he taught his small group of five employees how to input information into computers. He soon automated the store's point-of-sale (POS) and inventory systems, making sure that no information fell through the cracks. Ultimately, his goal was to align everyone to work towards the same direction – and it was a success.
Mr. Calata would typically put in a twenty-hour workday, focused on preventing costly mistakes and encouraging efficiency. The business rapidly grew from there, soon becoming the go-to shop for agricultural products, and eventually exploded to sixty retail stores nationwide. He modeled his slick and well-lit branches after convenience stores, rather than the traditional supply shop. By the time he turned thirty-one, he became the youngest chairman of a publicly-listed company. He credits this enormous success to the crucial decisions he made in 2001.
"From the beginning, the Internet was already important. Because even when I'm not around, I can access my computer through a remote desktop connection," he said. "Even in Manila, I can see the sales. I can see the expenses.” And even as he opened more stores, all were seamlessly connected.
His business has now expanded and diversified to include agro-chemicals, fertilizer feeds, farming, pig breeding, and crop protection. He explained that a strong Internet connection and an efficient POS system spells the difference between slow operations and rapid growth. "It helps with the expansion of the company, because the connectivity of each department, each branch, and our warehouse is important. So our success is dependent on PLDT."
Perseverance and Passion
For Mr. Calata, making it big entails perseverance. "For the company to keep growing, you need to be aggressive. You have to keep pushing until you get it. It also takes passion, " he emphasized.
He worked non-stop for the first three years because he clearly had something to prove. "Don't think about the money yet. Think about growing the business. The money comes at the end."