Congratulations to these top-tier members of the business community for their long-standing contributions to our islands.
In the current economic climate, companies on Guam and in the Northern Mariana Islands are proud to show their success and longevity in serving the people of our islands. Guam Business Magazine presents a handful of outstanding companies that are doing business in Micronesia celebrating important milestones in 2018. Through inspiration and dedication, each of them has managed to stay on course in a region that has seen more than its fair share of challenges for decades.
These leaders in their fields have ensured quality and reliability to consumers and businesses alike and have given back to the communities in which they do business, setting an example for others to follow. Guam Business is privileged to honor these companies’ milestones and brings readers a special Corporate Anniversaries feature with a closer look at their endeavors.
An American classic at home in the islands
In 1968, Pepsi-Cola began retailing it’s product on Guam. Pepsi initially began as a partnership between the Calvo and Jones families, distributing the popular beverage out of its first location at the J&G Calvo warehouse complex in Maite. A few years later full ownership of the company was taken over by Calvo Enterprises Inc.
Pepsi Guam is the only company on island to manufacture global beverage brands as well as its own line of local brands. According to Luigi Bansil, marketing coordinator for Pepsi Guam, the company’s growth over the past 50 years has been tremendous, “In 2003, the iconic sports beverage Gatorade was added to the company’s product line-up to appeal to the growing population of active customers and athletes. Currently Gatorade has over 90% of the sports beverage market in Guam.” In 2010, Pepsi Guam made a major investment in plant expansion. As a result, the volume capacity of locally produced beverages increased dramatically. In 2016, the company expanded its product portfolio with the addition of popular packaged and dry goods including Essity, Tabasco, and Smucker’s from the U.S., Devondale milk from Australia, and Nongshim, Dong Won, and Maxun products from South Korea. After many years, Pepsi Guam market designation was recently moved from PepsiCo International to PepsiCo U.S.A.
As demand for products grew, the company eventually outgrew the original location and made the move to a larger, better equipped facility. Today Pepsi Guam Bottling is headquartered out of Harmon Industrial Park— where it has a bottling production line, 5-gallon water filler and an ice bagging facility. The company distributes their goods island wide utilizing a fleet of 40 delivery trucks and vans.
Pepsi Guam attributes its success to not only their employees and consumers, but also to the leadership of its owners and management— Paul M. Calvo, president and chairman, Calvo’s Enterprises Inc.; John Calvo, director and president, Pepsi Guam; Clare Calvo, director and executive vice president, Pepsi Guam; Eduardo J. Calvo, director and vice president, Pepsi Guam; and Jonathan Denight, general manager, Pepsi Guam.
Pepsi Guam not only produces local brands, but also supports the local community by sponsoring some of the biggest events on island like the Guam Micronesian Island Fair, the United Guam Marathon, the Guam BBQ Block Party, Payless Kick the Fat 5K, the Japan Autumn Festival and the Cocos Crossing to name a few.
Pepsi Guam also supports charitable causes and community groups not only in Guam but across the region. “The company continues to stay involved and serve the community with donations and other support, be it to non-profit organizations or through cultural, sports, music, the arts, and other events,” Bansil said.
The Pepsi brand is an American icon and Pepsi Guam has played a huge role in increasing brand awareness by distributing not only within the islands of the NMI, but throughout the South Pacific.
Marianas Pacific Distributors Inc. has proudly been serving Saipan and the Northern Mariana Islands since 1973. Originally a subsidiary of Ambros Inc., Marpac first started doing business on Saipan and the NMI in 1972, but it wasn’t until 1973 that the company established a location for business and planted their roots.
“The company was founded by the same man responsible for the birth of its parent company Ambros Inc.— Ambrosio T. Shimizu,” said Joseph “Jojo” Camacho, marketing manager for Ambros.
Shimizu passed his legacy on to his three sons— Frank Sr., Joseph and Paul. Today, Marpac is headed by general manager Thomas G. Shimizu, the first namesake in a new generation of Shimizu’s to lead the company. He is also general manager for the group’s Guam, Palau, American Samoa and Samoa branches.
“Marpac’s original location was an abandoned small retail store on Chalan Kanoa, and that was where the company called home for the first couple of years,” Camacho said. As the business grew, so did the need for a more space. Marpac eventually relocated to it’s current location, a warehouse in Gualo Rai where thousands of cases of beer are stored, along with other goods and merchandise.
Marpac first opened its doors to the public in 1973, and at the time employed less than 10 people. Today, that number has tripled with more than 30 employees who call Marpac home.
Initially the company identified three segments in which its ever-evolving list of products fall. Those segments are beverage, consumer and tobacco. “Quality consumer products include Enfamil baby formula and Diversey Professional floor care, as well as other brands like Ziploc, Kotex and Cottonelle bath tissue,” Camacho said. “Marpac’s beverage sector distributes Fiji water, Aloha Maid juices and teas, Stars & Stripes soda, Royal Mills ground and ready-to-drink coffee, Wente wine and liquors like Bacardi, Grey Goose and Bombay Sapphire to name a few.”
The company’s product portfolio is extremely versatile, and Marpac has now added rice, snack and specialty liquor segments. But it won’t stop there. “Marpac is always looking for new products that meet the needs and demands of the market,” Camacho said.
Marpac started with distributing Budweiser beer, but Ambrosio Shimizu envisioned something greater for the company. He wanted to create a one-stop shop where retailers could go to get everything they needed for their stores. And 45 years later, they have done exactly that. “Marpac has long evolved from just the exclusive distributor of Budweiser products on the islands into a wholesaler of other brands like Kimberly-Clark, Ito En and S.C. Johnson,” Camacho said.
Success is the result of hard-work and determination. And though the Marpac has been faced with many challenges through the years, those challenges have only made the company more resilient. The ability to change with the times and satisfy consumer needs, along with economic demands, serves as testament to the company’s success.
Bringing good things to the Western Pacific
JMI-Edison, a distributor of healthcare, industrial and hotel and restaurant supplies and equipment, is celebrating 40 years of customer satisfaction on Guam.
The company’s legacy began in December 1978 with the late John Mercado Ilao and Andrea Rodriguez Ilao, the founders and original owners. They worked from a garage in a Tamuning house they were renting. With just four employees, the husband-and-wife team sought to serve customers who needed electric motor equipment and supplies.
John Ilao had known from his other job that this type of work was in high demand, which led to the business’s positive cash flow. Not too long after the business started, the family moved its operations to where it is now — 125 North Marine Corps Drive, Tamuning.
JMI-Edison was initially two entities: JMI Electrical & Air Conditioning and JMI Motor & Bearing Supply. The two businesses later merged to form Johndel International Inc., which does business as JMI Edison.
The couple took great care in keeping the businesses afloat, working 12 to 16 hours a day, except on Sundays. It was an arduous routine, but John and Andrea Ilao prioritized their customers.
“Our parents made sure our customers were served such that their expectations were surpassed consistently,” says Eduardo R. Ilao, president of JMI Edison.
This contributed to the business’s positive reputation. Having no formal business plan to work with, the couple instead focused on their customer care service and established a network of support.
“Our father also had developed a 360-degree relationship with his previous managers, peers and subordinates, so the relationship, plus ‘word of mouth’ was the marketing plan,” Eduardo Ilao says.
As the years went by, JMI-Edison expanded its products and services. In the late 1980s JMI started selling electrical parts for building and mechanical projects, taking advantage of the hotel construction boom.
Then in 1991 the company opened a store that primarily sold Philippine groceries and fish.
By 1996, JMI-Edison was a seller of medical supplies and equipment. The company founded and operated the first freestanding magnetic resonance imaging system in the region, according to Ilao. The company also began selling lighting products and water and wastewater pumps.
At the turn of the millennium, JMI-Edison honed in on selling industrial products, medical supplies and medical equipment. The company continued to build on its successes as a medical equipment supplier and installer and specialty industrial contractor, including services for commercial kitchens, elevators and air conditioning.
JMI-Edison now has 68 employees and four managers, according to Eduardo Ilao. He is one of two executives, along with Vice President John R. Ilao. The company has kept its original location but added a warehouse to its assets at 147 Tun Vicente Leon Guerrero Drive, Tamuning. The company plans to move its warehouse space to the Harmon Industrial Park later this year.
Emphasizing the owners’ passion to improve the island, JMI-Edison also is a proud supporter of the Guam Chapter of the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army. The company also has its own nonprofit — the Andrea R. Ilao Scholarship Foundation — which benefits college students.
Moving forward, JMI-Edison intends to continue to grow its market share and adapt to the latest trends, all the while keeping the customer in mind.
“[We’ll] continue our JMI culture of learning agility, adapting, innovating and transforming our service offering based on market needs,” Eduardo Ilao says.
Finest Korean Cuisine
For 15 years, Sejong Restaurant continuously strives to serve locals, tourists and military with only the best Korean food, and this is reflected in the principles of its owners.
Sang Hun Oh and Alex Baik opened Sejong in 2003 behind the Boy Scouts Club in Tamuning with seven employees. Oh and Baik had known each other long before that; Oh was head cook and Baik a manager at a previous Korean restaurant. Since then, the pair worked hard to build Sejong into what it is today.
“With Sang Hun’s exceptional Korean recipes and [my] business know-how, Sejong has quickly become the premiere Korean restaurant on Guam,” Baik says.
The business prides itself on honing its core beliefs and practices on family, customer service and quality food. Without these three principles, the business would not be nearly as complete as it is now.
Today, Oh and Baik continue their roles as head chef and operations manager, respectively, but the number of employees has grown to 20.
“Success can be largely attributed to the loyal, hard-working employees who have been with us from the start. All our employees are valued and treated just like family,” Baik says.
Sejong still operates at its original location, but major renovations were conducted over the years to ensure customer satisfaction. The restaurant serves widely popular Korean barbecue like galbi, or barbecued, marinated beef short rib, as well as a variety of soups, noodles and stews. Baik says the restaurant uses only the freshest and best ingredients for its dishes.
The business has also partnered with tourism companies to connect visitors to the restaurant. Sejong works with Korean tour companies Guam KTB Inc., Guam Hana Tour and Mode Tour; Japanese companies JTB and HIS Guam Inc.; and Mastar, a Chinese tour company. This connection has led Asian celebrities and foreign dignitaries to the restaurant.
Sejong is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the weekend. Up to 260 people can be seated, according to the restaurant’s website. There are also private rooms that guests can reserve for meetings or special occasions.
“Sejong is continuously committed to serving our island the best of Korean cuisine,” Baik says. “We would like to thank the island and all our customers for making us who we are. We are honored to serve you all!”