June 19, 2017

Success Story of Alfredo Yao: The Juice King

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  • Success Story of Alfredo Yao: The Juice King

    When you hear the name Alfredo Yao and you’re of a certain age, you tend to only think of one thing and one thing alone: Zest-O. It’s the country’s largest juice brand, and can be found in almost every lunchbox of every kid that goes to school.

    THE JUICE KING. Alfredo Yao is known as The Juice King thanks to his brainchild, Zest-O Corporation./IMAGE GoNegosyo

    He’s one of the most resilient businessmen in the Philippines, and has built his legacy on hard work and perseverance, as well as showing tenacity for always finding better ways of doing things.

    This is a short snippet of the Philippines’ Juice King, Alfredo Yao.

    Early years

    Alfredo M. Yao was born on November 23, 1943 to the simplest of families. The eldest among his siblings, he had to sacrifice a lot at an early age. He lost his father at age 12 and became the family breadwinner. He started a printing business at age 17 with a Php 3,000 loan from what is today known as the Development Bank of the Philippines.

    He never got to finish school even though he wanted to, because he was already a full-fledged businessman by age 18. He’s gone through the ringer, so to speak: he’s been a street vendor and at times slept on cardboard boxes on the street.

    The birth of Zest-O

    Yao went from printing and packaging to the beverage in the unlikeliest of ways. In 1979, while on a business tour of Europe, he stumbled across a new way of packaging: Doypack, a sealed bag made of plastic and aluminum that’s designed to stand upright.

    Seeing its potential, he marketed it to local juice manufacturers, but no one showed interest.

    Not wanting to let something with this much potential go to waste, he started making his own juices in his kitchen and packaged it using the doypacks he got from Europe. He would soon corner the market on juice drinks, thanks to the convenience of his doypacks.

    The innovator

    Yao has never been one to shy away from innovation. As Zest-O Corporation made waves in the juice market, he was already looking at other potential investments. 2008 saw him launch Zest Airways and sought to compete with other low-cost carriers of the country.

    He was met with stiff competition (Air Philippines and Cebu Pacific Air to name a few), so he looked at a different way of flying people into the country. Zest Airways became the first local carrier to fly tourists from China and Korea straight to Philippine destinations, i.e. without dropping by NAIA.

    Zest Airways would soon be operated under AirAsia as AirAsia Zest, and would fully integrate with AirAsia in 2016.

    The Juice King Today

    Alfredo Yao has gone a long way from his humble beginnings. He’s still at the helm of Zest-O Group and Zest-O Corporation as its chairman. He’s also the Chairman of Macay Holdings, Inc., the parent company of ARC Refreshments, which handles a couple of popular beverage brands including RC Cola.

    IMAGE Philippine Business Bank

    He’s also the founder and Chairman Emeritus of Philippine Business Bank, a bank which focuses on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and has over 139 branches as of 2016.

    IMAGE Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry

    Alfredo Yao is also the former president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the country’s largest organization of SMEs.

    Sources: BusinessMirror, SunStar Cebu, Thomas White International, GO Negosyo

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