RJ Jacinto aims to strike right note in roofing sector
Friends and family members who trooped to the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium in Makati City to attend the 70th birthday party of Ramon “RJ” Jacinto did not lack for reminders of the celebrator’s secure place in the history of original Pilipino music.
But aside from his ventures in the local music industry, from leading The Riots to setting up the Rajah Broadcasting Network that helped make a legend out of Filipino rock and roll pioneer Juan dela Cruz band, Jacinto is also known for his deep involvement in strategic and capital-intensive industries.
The chair and chief executive officer of the RJ Group of Companies, which has interests in real estate development as well as retail and manufacturing, says his attention these days is focused on regaining a sizable share of the roofing products market.
Banking on the respected Jacinto name as well as investments in systems and technology, JacintoColor Steel Inc. brings to the market new products that promise to revolutionize the way roofing is executed in the Philippines.
“In the same way that I designed new kinds of guitars, I designed new kinds of roofing. I am always innovating,” says Jacinto, who first learned about the steel and roofing business when he joined Jacinto Steel in 1965 as special assistant to the president, just before graduating with honors from the Ateneo de Manila University with a degree in Economics.
One of the JacintoColor Steel’s pioneering products is the Jacinto roofing system that he claims can reduce the roofing cost by up to 40 percent.
This is because of the savings on labor and materials usually devoted to installing the trusses to which the roofing material is attached.
Jacinto says the company is now in a better position to become more aggressive in marketing its quality products such as roof panels because he bought out his siblings’ shares in the company, thus giving him greater control over its destiny.
“The company was just there supplying small customers, but I saw the potential. So I bought out my siblings since they are mostly abroad and retired. I revived the company about four years ago,” says Jacinto.
Jacinto says he took it upon himself to continue the family tradition in roofing having learned the way the industry works from his father, Fernando Jacinto Sr., considered the father of the local steel industry.
His father established in 1958 Jacinto Steel, the pioneer manufacturer of galvanized iron sheets in the Philippines.
The group grew its reach in the succeeding decades but suffered greatly in the wake of the Asian financial crisis of 1997, with the Jacinto Group almost collapsing under the weight of its debt burden.
The group was forced to sell valuable real estate assets as well as corporations to pare down its sizable debt.
What were left that had real value was the roofing company and, more importantly, the sterling reputation for quality that the Jacinto name still carried more than 50 years since his father entered the steel industry.
Jacinto took over the reins of the roofing company, which was given a fresh mandate under the new corporate entity called JacintoColor Steel, Inc.
With the help of forward-looking executives and sales personnel, plus the family’s invaluable reputation for quality, JacintoColor Steel, Inc. believes it is well equipped to fulfill its mission “to be the premier roofing company that designs, produces and markets high quality and innovative steel roofing products.”
The third of eight siblings felt obligated to carry on the family tradition because he was the most involved in the steel business, working side by side with his father when he was just in his early 20s.
“I felt obligated to carry on and when I went back in a big way to the market, I found that we still had a good name in the steel industry because of the quality of our products,” he says, “Indeed, nobody knows roofing better than Jacinto.”
Jacinto stresses that from the first time Jacinto products rolled out of the factory, the company never compromised on quality.
When it comes to roofing, quality means manufacturing according to specifications, such that the roofing products are never undersized nor misdeclared.
“There are manufacturers who scrimp on the zinc coating so that they can sell the products at a lower price. But that means that rust will set in quickly. We do not do that. We have always been straight with the consumer and we are reaping the benefits of that now,” says Jacinto.
By joining product fairs and deploying sales personnel all over the country, JacintoColor Steel is fast gaining lost ground, with its products now installed in residences as well as commercial developments such as Puregold and SM branches and Robinsons Galleria.
Institutions such as the Baguio Country Club and the International School Manila are also part of the growing list of satisfied clients using locally manufactured Jacinto roofing materials.
Jacinto is also particularly excited about the prospects of the company’s new product called Bahay Tibay!, a basic 24-square-meter home that can be constructed in as little as eight hours for just P125,000.
The Bahay Tibay! homes are ideal for resettlement and reconstruction projects, Jacinto says, as they can be quickly set up because of use of pre-fabricated steel frames and GI sheets, which are certified to withstand 250-kilometer-per-hour winds.
For P365,000, a Bahay Tibay! comes complete with an electrical and plumbing system, kitchen sink and glass windows.
“The idea is to give strong and quickly deployable affordable housing to Filipinos,” says Jacinto, “and we are not just providing the roof. It is the whole housing system that we are doing. We want to change the dynamics of the housing sector.”
The Jacinto group is not new to pioneering efforts.
In 1968, his father won the bid to build Iligan Integrated Steel Mills (IISMI), the country’s and Southeast Asia’s first integrated steel mill, which later became National Steel.
The Jacinto Group was also the first to manufacture long span and color roofing.
And when Jacinto came back to the Philippines from exile in the United States, he was the first to introduce TV shopping. He is also involved today in a venture that will lead to the export of locally manufactured guitars.
“Innovation has always been part of the DNA of the Jacinto group, that and being a pioneer,” says Jacinto, who is also proud of Rajah Broadcasting Network, which has 11 stations and the RJ Music City, a growing manufacturer, retailer and wholesaler of electric and acoustic guitars.
But more than capturing the lion’s share of the roofing materials sector and continuing his long career in music, Jacinto says his ultimate dream is to finish the mission of his father to establish a complete integrated steel mill in the Philippines.
“My father always said that you cannot build a country without a steel mill. We missed the boat but it is not too late. An integrated steel mill in the Philippines still makes sense. That is my dream,” says Jacinto.
“Steel is now in my blood, just like music,” he adds.
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