Backed by UPS, products from PH reach buyers on time
CLARK FREEPORT—Bettina Pineda is, in her own words, “superjoyed.”
Trend Mix, a set of designs she has made for mobile phones and tablet casings manufactured here by British firm Ecell Global, under the Head Case brand, continues to sell well online.
“My team and I are overwhelmed, too, when [the hashtag] #headcase on Instagram generates so many photographs of foreigners holding our designs,” said Pineda, 24, a graphic artist.
Just outside Clark, Ruel Pasion is keenly checking out models of aircraft made by hand by 50 or so craftsmen under his supervision at the American company, Factory Direct Models (FDM).
These are bound for aerospace and aviation companies like Cessna, Bombardier, Boeing, Virgin America and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Some would be delivered to individuals who want to keep memories of what their relatives flew while working in the aviation industry. Six aircraft models were made for the Boeing Museum in Germany.
“My day is not complete if I don’t work. I’m happy making [aircraft] models,” said Pasion, 41.
Ecell and FDM deliver their packages of custom-made products to the global market via United Parcel Service (UPS), said to be the world’s largest package delivery company and provider of supply chain management solutions.
The UPS hub inside the Clark International Airport (CRK) complex since 1997 has not caused these companies any delays in deliveries, Jon Rice, Ecell’s chief finance officer, and Henry Morrison, FDM founder, said in separate interviews here last week.
Ecell, which Tim Celikkol started through a kiosk at the Preston Market in Lancashire, United Kingdom in 2000, relocated its manufacturing plant from China to Clark in 2013.
Murat, Celikkol’s brother and co-founder, said their company’s good relationship with UPS in Hong Kong helped their transition to using the Clark hub for the company’s on-demand manufacturing.
Morrison, a retired United States Navy pilot, began making aircraft models in 1990 in Olongapo City and established FDM in 2009 in Angeles City.
Edilberto Antonio Evangelista Jr., UPS Philippines marketing manager, attributes the efficiency of the logistics leader to a “network running at clockwork.” UPS Philippines has 1,270 employees.
Evangelista said: “We help our customers predict because we know that logistics is a critical part of their businesses. UPS suggests solutions to their pain points.”
“In Clark, our customers have better delivery time, giving them more time for production,” he added.
UPS Philippines makes 24 flights weekly to and from CRK, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) and Mactan Cebu International Airport using Boeing 767 planes.
Ecell takes a maximum of five days from the point of order to actual delivery.
“As a global company, we could do it because of UPS,” said Murat.
Rice said being close to the Clark hub gives Ecell extra flexibility. “You can just drive there and drop off the packages of recent orders,” he added.
FDM ships one or several packages at a time, with UPS making sure that models due in 68 counties arrive in pristine condition, without dents or damage.
With shipping the least of their problems, these UPS partners are able to focus on improving their customized products.
Morrison said the art of making aircraft models has long been established in Angeles City because of the presence of the former Clark Air Base. Back in the 1980s, more than 100 mom and pop-type of shops existed, churning out replicas of planes that flew in the area.
“Back then, the level of craftsmanship was poor, but the value of the pieces was in being handmade and hand-painted. Each piece was unique. It’s done one at a time. It’s Philippine handicraft, period,” Morrison said.
He said he just put in more accuracy in the designs and details of the aircraft.
“There’s a confidence that comes with experience and in doing it so long. We brought the quality of the airplanes to a level that we are satisfying the original equipment manufacturers,” he said, noting that FDM has a long list of clients and steady accounts.
“UPS gives FDM credibility. It’s a statement that our product is delivered by UPS,” Morrison said.
At Ecell, Murat said the challenges were in constantly developing software, employing the right people and keeping customers satisfied.
The firm’s global head of software engineering is Drew Ramos, a Filipino. Joel Loremas, another Filipino, manages on the other hand the production of 7,000 designs for 250 mobile devices.
The third is the turf of Ana Liza Peralta, who makes sure that Ecell is among the top-sellers on eBay and Amazon Prime. Ecell has sold more than three million cases.
Expressing its high regard for Filipinos, whom Rice described to be very artistic, Ecell prints the “Made in the Philippines” mark on packages bound for Australia, Germany, Japan, Italy and its head office in the United Kingdom.
From just having three employees in 2008, Ecell now has a workforce of 260.
Murat said it is set to print designs on wearable technology, like Apple watches, yet another testament to what the Filipino can do.
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