WHILE definitely Italian in origin, husband and wife food entrepreneurs Eduardo and Tess Ngan-Tian went into business branding their pizza as the “Genuine Pinoy Pizza”. The gimmick worked and their small business grew by leaps and bounds.
Co-owners of the successful franchise system Lots’A Pizza, this Pinoy couple started their business in 1987 renting out food stall spaces near the San Beda College campus in Mendiola, Manila. At that time, Eduardo was selling hamburgers, siopao, ice cream, banana cue, peanuts and other snack food items through R&W Foods, and Tess was working as finance and administrative director at San Beda Alabang.
When no occupants leased three of their stalls in Mendiola, Tess came up with the idea of offering a different fare to the students—their usual patrons. To add to the fare she added pizza which she made from her own recipe.
With a business now needing fulltime attention, Eduardo asked Tess to quit her job at San Beda. After some thinking, Tess packed her bags and went to the United States to study a course on pizza technology at the American Institute of Baking where the unique pan baked crust and signature sauce of Lots’A Pizza was developed. That was the beginning of Lots’A Pizza here in the Philippines.
With no background in the food industry, but armed with CPA backgrounds, the Ngan-Tian couple invested PhP250,000 into their venture and started out with 10 co-owned Lots’A Pizza stores in 1996.
From these humble beginnings, the Ngan-Tian couple started a franchise system in 2000 and today Lots’A Pizza has over 130 franchised outlets all over the Philippines and 39 company-owned stores.
In a newspaper interview, Tess shared her guideposts for business.
“First, make sure that the product you have is universal. Meaning, anywhere in the country, or in the world, that product is accepted,” Tess said.
“Second, make sure that the product is tailored fit to the taste of your clients. You cannot expect someone in the Philippines to eat the same way as Americans do. Even if it is the same product, there will still be differences,” she added. “Third, and most importantly, you should develop your own product. Make sure that your product has its own character to be a market stand out.”
Through the couple’s joint effort, they were able to create a market brand known for its affordability and high quality of ingredients used. Their signature dough, she said, “has the desired chewiness and crunchiness but without the toughness.”
“Moreover the crust is formulated with very low sugar and oil which makes it a good source of complex carbohydrates,” Tess said.
To continuously develop their product, Lots’A Pizza has successfully partnered with multinational food companies like San Miguel, Purefoods, Dole Philippines and Kraft Food Products to provide them with ingredients customized for their pizza brand.
To help their franchisees, the couple also introduced the Lots’A Pizza Academy, a five-level training and development program that covers business concepts and the areas of recruitment, methods of preparation, cost analysis and management skills. Franchisees spend some time in a classroom and on-site environment to develop proficiency in pizza making, counter service and business management.
Tess and Eduardo also developed a telco-powered inventory and ordering system that “reduces human error and provides faster turnaround.”
To service its operational needs in Luzon, the company has invested in the construction of three commissaries to make sure that franchisees get a steady supply of pizza ingredients. After putting up commissaries in Pampanga and Las Piñas, the company built an even bigger facility in Cavite to provide for expansion in the southern parts of Luzon and Bicol Province.
The company also expects to open more branches as Lots’A Pizza builds its presence in Visayas and Mindanao.
What started as a small food cart in Mendiola, a Filipino-owned pizza chain continuously conquers every corner of the nation. And Eduardo concedes that they owe much of their success to the hard work of Tess—who also sits as company president and treasurer.
And if there’s one secret to their success Tess says its their conservative approach to business.
“Conservatism is our approach to business. We may not be aggressive as the rest but we have maintained focus in the business, dedicated a strong passion for the product and adopted good money management,” she said.
Tess said Lots’A Pizza will always remain committed to providing Filipinos with the best affordable pizza without compromising quality simply because their pizza is prepared by people who love and know pizzas.
Awards and Recognitions
No pizza company in the same market segment can match Lots’A Pizza in growth and number of prestigious awards received.
In 2011, Tess became one of 20 Go Negosyo Women Starpreneurs which included Genevieve Ledesma-Tan, Founder and President of the Southville International School and Colleges; Zenaida Tantoco, President of Rustan’s Commercial Corp.; Nelia Siggaoat, President of Manels Leathergoods Corp.; Elizabeth Lee, chief operating officer of Universal Motors; Myrna Yao, founder and COO of Richwell Trading; Natividad Cheng, Chief Executive Officer of Uratex Group of Companies; Rosalinda Hortaleza, Chairman and CEO of HBC Inc.; Vicki Belo, Medical director of Belo Medical Group; Merle Alferez, Founder of MSA Academic Advancement Institute; Sara Black, Owner of Sara Black Photography; Lydia de Roca, Owner of Lydia’s Lechon; Mary Grace Dimacali, President Mary Grace Foods Inc.; Emma Guerrero, President of Bioessence; Grace Gupana, CEO of Abs Bitter Herbs; Marlyn Montano, Owner of Holy Cow Animations; Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos-Recto; Ruth Callanta, President of Center for Community Transformation; Pacita Juan, Founder of Echostore; and Alegria Limjoco, CEO of Francorp.
Here is a rundown of the awards received by the company:
2012Franchise Awards – Best Franchising Support; Special Citation, Research and Development; Special Citation, New Distribution Models
2010Entrepreneur Philippines Franchising Awards Most Promising Franchise (gold); Best in Franchising Support (gold); Best Local Homegrown Franchise (gold)
2009Entrepreneur Philippines Franchising Awards Best Local Homegrown Franchise; Fastest Growing Franchise; Most Promising Franchise
2008Entrepreneur Philippines Franchising Awards Best Franchise Support; Best Local Homegrown Franchise
Entrepreneur Philippines Franchising Awards Best in Franchising Support
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