Destileria Limtuaco’s next generation
Destileria Limtuaco’s fifth-generation head Olivia “Olive” Limpe, 54, and her husband Benny Aw, 58, have three children, Clifford, 30; Aaron, 28, and Brandon, 24. Each child’s strengths complement the others. Clifford, a University of Asia and the Pacific Entrepreneurial Management major, is “a street smart, bold negotiator who reads people well,” says Olive. Aaron, a University of the Philippines Diliman Economics major, is “analytical and a good leader.” Brandon, a De La Salle University Liacom graduate, artistically inclined, has become a successful DJ, useful for events.
The two elder brothers are working in the family business while Brandon is working for another corporation to gain experience and to prevent any “sense of entitlement many children of owners have.”
When Olive worked long hours and the boys, then little, complained, she would say, “I work hard for us, so you choose. I can stop working, but we have to change our lifestyle. They would say, ‘Go work!’”
“If the school asked for a conference, we’d go, but Benny and I never babied them. When my son was bullied, the teacher feared we would complain. She was surprised when I told my son to fend for himself. Life is hard and we should expose our kids to realities early.” When the boys wanted a bike, their father asked them to save for it. At the store, he tried to entice them with better models, but they stuck to their budget. Benny relented by buying brake lights because “they were necessary.”
“Without Benny, I could not have achieved what I have,” says Olive. “He understands my need to work, my business trips, the way I run the house. Strong men do not feel threatened by women who work.”
Training for succession
To encourage children to enter the family business, Olive quotes Italian jewelry designer Roberto Coin: “Enchant the young.”
“Do not complain about the business often while they are young. Tell the kids about the benefits of the business. Expose them to the challenges little by little, as they grow older.”
“My sons know the sacrifices I made just as I knew what my ancestors did. We communicate openly. If they want to do their own thing, that’s fine, but I won’t support them financially. If they succeed, good; if not, they can work for us and prove themselves. I didn’t force them into the business. They always have a choice, but they know the consequences of every decision.”
While they were still in school, Olive brought her sons on market visits. When they started in the business, she put them into sales because “it was the hardest thing to do. You eat rejection for breakfast, lunch, dinner.”
“At first, my sons would complain that the product wouldn’t sell. Then I would show them how it’s done. They would say it works because it is I. I say, fine, develop your own ways.
“Let children earn little successes; they’ll grow confident and start loving what they do.”
Only when her sons did well in sales did Olive transfer them to purchasing and marketing. “Learn to earn before you spend.” But she did not stop there. “After marketing, one son went to HR. He already knew marketing and I don’t want him to get complacent.”
Hard as it may be, owners need to treat their children professionally. Once, Clifford went on a European business trip and got robbed. He had to pay back the entire amount, but his grandfather took pity and paid half the sum.
“When I heard what happened, I asked him to repay his grandfather, who would not hear of it,” says Olive. “I had no choice but to respect the wishes of the elders. But since that incident, my son has become extra careful with funds.”
(Next week: Innovations)
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