Promdipreneur stands up to the big players

Size doesn’t matter all the time. Sometimes it takes courage, perseverance, hard work and vision to compete with the Philippine business Goliaths.

Dennis Uy, chairman and president of Udenna Corp.

Dennis Uy, president and president of Udenna Corp., the promdi entrepreneur from Mindanao, has proven it. He started small, got down to business, and eventually built a business empire in markets dominated by the biggest oil companies and major telecommunications providers.

Uy developed and introduced different and better products and services to the market and seized the opportunities that came his way, sure of his roots, but at the same time aware of the difficulties involved in setting up businesses that would have to compete with the big players.

Davaoeño’s business acumen dates back to its humble beginnings. His ancestors, who moved from Fujian, China to Tagum, Davao in the 1930s, taught him entrepreneurship. Uy’s grandparents established businesses ranging from gold mining and trading to vehicle trading and food retailing, among others, with the help of his father and brothers. and sisters of his father.

After helping the family business since the 1990s, Uy decided to start his own business in 2002, creating Udenna Corp. with his wife Cherylyn. He then recognized an opportunity in the petroleum retail industry, which was then dominated by three major oil companies, by offering Davao customers and customers a different option.

“I took the leap, I went all out,” Uy said in one of his previous talks.

Uy founded Oilink Mindanao in 2002, which eventually became Davao Oil Terminal Services Corp. with the aim of finishing fourth after the top three players. He was confident that his foray into oil retailing would succeed as he predicted the economy would transform in favor of energy within five to ten years.

Uy finally reaped the rewards of his efforts when he secured a major client who was won over by the team’s outstanding service. After overcoming many hurdles along the way, including fundraising to the point he was using his land titles as collateral for bank loans, and a failed joint venture, it was the pivotal break that changed things.

Phoenix takes off

The big opportunity came when Cebu Pacific, owned by the Gokongwei family, became DOSTCO’s first customer when Uy provided the airline with lower fares and flexible terms under an exclusive five-year contract. year. This has enabled DOTSCO to go against multinational corporations that monopolize the jet fuel market and become Cebu Pacific’s exclusive logistics partner in Mindanao locations.

With renewed optimism and enthusiasm, as well as the intention to strengthen brand recall, Uy changed the name of DOTSCO to Phoenix Petroleum Philippines Inc., the first petroleum company to list on the Philippine Stock Exchange since the law of 1998 on the deregulation of oil. This opened up new opportunities, allowing the business to expand beyond Mindanao.

By 2016, Phoenix had established over 500 stations across the Philippines. The company has joined the Philippine Basketball Association with its own brand team, further positioning itself as a formidable oil player.

Thanks to Uy’s foresight, Phoenix has since expanded beyond oil, introducing its LPG arm, acquiring the Philippine franchise of Japanese convenience store chain FamilyMart, and venturing into digital transactions with the gateway. payment system and the Limitless digital lifestyle app. The conglomerate has also moved beyond the shores of the Philippines, with businesses established in Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia.

New heights

Today, Phoenix is ​​considered the third oil company in the country in terms of market share according to the Department of Energy. The company also continues to cultivate itself as a trusted consumer brand with a diverse portfolio of products and services.

In 2019, Uy’s name became even more prominent when he formed a consortium with state-owned China Telecom to create DITO Telecommunity Corp., shaking up the telecom sector, which is dominated by two giant corporations battling each other. for first place.

Through DITO, which is now called the “third telecom operator”, it offers an alternative to telecom users and customers, just as it did with Phoenix.

Phoenix Petroleum and DITO are just a few of the companies that Uy founded under the umbrella of the Udenna group of companies. Through its majority-owned subsidiary, Chelsea Logistics and Infrastructure Holdings Corp., the conglomerate is also active in shipping and logistics in addition to oil and telecommunications.

Udenna has been able to diversify its business portfolio to encompass real estate development, education, food, gaming, tourism and infrastructure thanks to the recent continued growth of the group.

Stay focused

Known for his bold desire to seize the possibilities of adversity, his resilience and his hard work, Uy continues to put his all into growing businesses.

The promdipreneur’s journey has not been smooth. His road to success was strewn with major obstacles and struggles despite other people’s claims that his ventures were handed to him on a silver platter.

In one of his past interviews, he said: “When you are from the provinces, there is a lot of fighting… In Tagum, I play in the streets, I play in the simbahan [church] and we fight and play. Operate in Manila – where they accuse you, they put you in the newspaper – it’s like whoa… It’s audacious.

Despite being the target of negative reviews, he continues to fight for the thousands of people who depend on the success of his businesses. He expects these relentless attacks to continue, but he is undeterred.
“The life of entrepreneurs who choose to offer alternatives to the status quo will always be full of pitfalls. Despite the heaps of negative innuendo, we will continue, aware of our task to continue to provide better products and services to the consumers who deserve them,” said Uy.

endless optimism

Uy manages to stay afloat amid attacks and the debilitating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Just like other businesses, his business was also through the ramifications of a life-changing global phenomenon. If there’s one thing he knows how to do, it’s get up after every fall.

Phoenix Petroleum returned to profitability in the second quarter of 2022 with a net profit of P201 million. Gradually recovering from the first quarter loss, gains from its overseas operations and continued operating expense discipline across the group increased EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) by 67 % quarter-on-quarter.

DITO CME Holdings Corp, which owns a majority stake in Dito Telecoms, said the company remains on track with its business plan with EBITDA expected to be positive by the end of 2024.

DITO Telecom is also bullish on the telecommunications sector as it will soon complete negotiations with a consortium of lenders led by the Bank of China for a $4.1 billion long-term loan to finance its network expansion, which will must cover 84% of the population by 2024.

“As a promdi contractor who provides better quality products and services than existing vendors, we have learned that our journey will not be easy. But we will not be intimidated by any stumbling blocks in our path. We have confidence in our existing partners who support our growth, and we will continue to fight for all small Filipino entrepreneurs who also dream of becoming bigger in the future,” Uy said.

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