In It for the long haul

Lessons from a family-owned, multi-billion conglomerate with half a century of doing business

Part of popular saying goes: “The first generation builds the business, and the second makes it a success.” That’s certainly the case for Reynaldo S. Guevara, the current chairman of the Guevent Group of Companies, a multibillion peso conglomerate with interests in real estate, finance, transportation solutions, technology, gaming, medical services, and insurance.

This 22-company group was founded by his father,the industrialist Domingo M. Guevara Sr., who built a small radio repair shop into Radiowealth, a local pioneer in electronics in the 1950s that produced televisions, stereos, air conditioners and the parts that went into them. From that platform “DMG” branched out and evolved into Guevent Industrial and Development Corp., which his eight children manage today. The most well-known among these companies are Radiowealth Finance Corp. (RFC), which is among the country’s top 10 finance companies for livelihood and micro-enterprise businesses, and taxi operator Avis Philippines, the local arm of the famed rent-a- car company.

Rey Guevara, however, is an entrepreneur in his own right. A US-educated physicist who specialized in research and development, he has his own real estate company, RSG Development Corp., and several other firms. One of the companies he manages under Guevent, Honeycomb Builders, Inc. is responsible for Rock Fort Makati Boutique Residences, a condominium development that straddles the cities of Makati and Taguig and stone’s throw away from the Fort Bonifacio business district.

ENTREPRENEUR caught up with Rey Guevara and asked him what lessons he has learned in over half a century in business, especially in a carefully-managed family corporation like Guevent. Here are some of his nuggets of business wisdom:

On his father’s influence: “Dad started it all. He set up his businesses when he was still a young man, at yun napalago niya to become Radiowealth, and ako even before I graduated from college, we would go to Radiowealth and work with the company. Going to the factory or the office became a way of life.

During the summer when most of our classmates would be going to Baguio, we would still stay here and go up there only in the last two weeks of vacation. We were at the office for six weeks, working or observing.”

“You have to be fair to the customer. You have to give them an honest product for their money; it has to be worth it.

On his guiding principle in business:

“You have to be fair to the customer. You have to give them an honest product for their money; it has to be worth it. Kung hindi, you will just get into trouble. And in all your dealings, you must be fair in that whatever you are getting from them, they match, kasi kung nalalamangan one or the other, that will not work, mag-aaway kayo. Of course, quality. My father used to say,

“Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten.”

Advice for entrepreneurs just starting out: “Hard work, dedication, fairness. Fairness is the foundation, hard work is needed, you cannot take it easy, something is bound to fail when you don’t take it seriously. Dedication and hard work, another word for them is passion. So if you are a would-be entrepreneur and you have fairness and passion, chances are you will succeed.

My father also used to say, ‘An entrepreneur never retires, he just sticks around.”

On making it Last: “Life is a continuing lesson. There is no sure-fire formula. Except for the grace of God, we could have ended up, I could have ended up out there in the corner, and it has happened to many people. They were millionaires in their lifetimes but they died paupers. In history you’ll find a lot of them. So for me I’m grateful and always cognizant of that, by the grace of God, I’m able to talk here, enjoying the peace and and prosperity that has accrued over the years.” – Jimbo Owen Gulie

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