It was a risky move not too many individuals would dare take, but for entrepreneur Edgar Tam, leaving a promising career in the Big City to take over a small backyard enterprise in his province was very much worth the gamble.
“My heart really was into this. I love our farm. I learn something new here everyday,” Tam notes while recalling the humble beginnings of his Myler Agribusiness Inc. The biggest layer farm in Region 9, the firm is one of DBP-Zamboanga branch’s prime clients, and the chief producer of eggs in the Zamboanga peninsula.
Tam was working for one of the country’s top accounting firms when his parents asked him to handle the operations of their small farm, which had been losing money for a good number of years. In his younger days, Tam had found a different kind of thrill in taking care of pigs and chicken, so it wasn’t a shock that he immediately left his comfy post in Makati City in exchange for the opportunity to manage their farm.
“There were economic uncertainties then, but what really pushed me to return to my province was my passion for agri-business. I enjoyed being in the farm, in fact, I was taking care of pigs and chicken when I was barely into my teens.”
So he returned home in 1983 and by the following year, Tam was completely in charge of operations of their farm. The enterprise wasn’t exactly a model of operational efficiency, so the greenhorn businessman looked to turn things around. “I gathered our figures and determined which areas we had to do better. Like where we source out our materials. When my father was handling the business, he was getting all of his supplies from one dealer. So I said, let’s go directly to the distributors of chicken feeds and medicines so we can cut on our costs,” Tam explains.
In 1990, the firm got a major shot in the arm when it received a loan assistance from the DBP through its Zamboanga branch. “It had a very big impact on our business. We were relatively small then, and it was through DBP that we were able to grow our business. It practically offered us the lowest rates. We continued to expand with DBP’s help.”
With the DBP loan helping out on its working capital requirements, Myler Agribusiness steadily increased its production. The small backyard farm in Barangay Mercedes expanded into a 3 hectare property composed of seven layer houses. Overall, the farm produces an average of 103,000 eggs a day. Preparations are also underway for the expansion of a new site in Barangay Pamucutuan which is expected to provide an additional 64,320 layers and improve the daily production volume by around 22,000 eggs. The eggs are sold in markets and retail stores in the Zamboanga provinces as well as the nearby provinces of Jolo, Tawi-tawi and Basilan.
Recently, DBP granted Myler Agribusiness with another loanassistance to finance the renovation of one of its layer houses and acquisition of automated tier cages with temperature control system.
Right from the get-go, Tam was focused on improving his business’ operational efficiency. Thus, investments on equipment that hastened and improved the production process became a priority. For instance, the firm brought a fully automated system which mechanically feeds and waters the chickens; and gathers and sorts the eggs. The system limited human contact with the layers, reducing the risks of viral contamination which can cause disruptions in the operations. This meant that layers would have a greater egg laying efficiency, resulting to maximized earnings for the business.
Venturing into other businesses
In 2005, Tam put up a new firm, Marcela Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), which recycles waste paper into egg tray. The first paper egg tray plant factory in Western Mindanao, MIDC initially provided the egg tray requirements of Myler Agribusiness.
By operating MIDC, Tam was able to save on costs of importing paper egg trays. In past years, Myler Agribusiness relied on egg trays supplied by manufacturers in Davao City and Cebu City, which meant additional overhead costs. With MIDC, Tam was able to save an average of 20 centavos for every egg tray since freight costs are eliminated.
Despite becoming one of the most successful enterprises in the city, Myler Agribusiness remains steady and loyal to its partnership with the DBP. Ever grateful to DBP’s assistance, Tam underlines the support the Bank has given to his businesses through the years. “During the time when nobody was lending to us, it was only DBP who took notice and gave us a very good loan. DBP is really for development.”