Bobson Jeans founder Victor Tan's success is more than pesos and centavos

More than just pesos and centavos 
By Walter Ang
Dec 2007-Feb 2008 issue
Asian Dragon Magazine

Walter Ang speaks with Bobson Jeans founder Victor Tan who says success is
More than just pesos and centavos

Twenty years have passed since Bobson Jeans was introduced to the Philippine market. What began as a small venture in Divisoria has blossomed into a nationwide organization employing 500-plus people with a network of over 130 concessions outlets and 25 freestanding boutiques nationwide.

If you ask the man who started it all if he's reached the peak of his success, he promptly answers, "No." Victor Tan feels strongly that there is more to be done despite his having achieved more than what his contemporaries have been able to.

The eldest of six siblings, Victor started out as a salesman in bustling downtown Manila (comprised of the Chinatown commercial district Binondo, Sta Cruz, San Fernando and Tondo) while attending night classes in college. He speaks of an irrepressible spirit amidst his humble upbringing that led him to take on any job that came his way, whether it be tutoring grade school students or working in furniture and hardware businesses.

A passion for fashion led him to craft the dream he would build on. "I have always had a strong curiosity in what was going on around me. I tend to notice the tiniest details about clothes. I often comment on people's sense of style. I always make it a point to wear shirts/pants that is always in fashion."

He had been printing t-shirts for sale as Christmas giveaways for various companies and eventually worked for a garment manufacturing company, it was these entrepreneurial elements that finally came together when he wanted to create a "homegrown clothing brand that would prove itself through craftsmanship."

He then shares the birthing pains that came with making that dream a reality. "After spending a lot of time and money introducing Bobson to the market, getting rejected was becoming the norm. We got our first big break when the big department store chains in Manila allowed us to showcase our products," he says.

That began the continuous efforts of Victor to build on his brand. Bobson was only carrying its jeans line at that time, now it features an entire line of garments and accessories. His hard work has not gone unnoticed. For the years 2003 to 2005, the Consumer Union of the Philippines awarded Bobson as "Most Outstanding Manufacturer of Local Jeans Wear," while Parangal ng Bayan Foundation named it as "Best Jeans Manufacturer."

"Consumer satisfaction in our products and services has been the basic reason behind our steady growth these years," he says. "As a matter of business philosophy, we invest time, effort, and expense in building up our capability to design, create, and produce products that meet the needs and expectations of our target market." Given his steady hand in leading the company, it's no wonder that Victor was selected as one of the Top Ten Small-to-medium Entrepreneurs for 2005.

Central to all his achievements, Victor plays by a set of values: hard work, integrity and respect for others. Family also plays an important role in keeping him on track. A father of four children with wife Rosemarie, Victor says that his constant inspiration is the hard work and perseverance that his late father exhibited. "He was never daunted by poverty in his devotion to the family's welfare."

In addition, Victor is guided by Buddhist principles that advise, "all entrepreneurs should seek more than just business profits or materialistic wealth, but must seek inner peace, contentment and maintain lifelong integrity as well." He knows whereof he speaks since he is also currently the Director of the Philippine Buddha Light International Association.

"I do not measure success in terms of pesos and centavos only. Success to me becomes complete if along with my company's growth, it would have contributed to the betterment of society and our employees," he says.