30 years of building relationships — One roof at a time
In 1989, with only experience and an Architecture degree to buoy him, a young and ambitious David Ong left his job as a sales agent for a roofing company to start his own business distributing various construction-related materials. Then known as Dwight Trade and Services, the startup was a small, two-man operation—with just three tables between them.
But it didn’t stay small for long.
By 1994, the company became a full-fledged manufacturing and importation company and renamed itself to Dwight Trade and Development. It was a move initially born out of necessity. Then President Fidel V. Ramos had signed the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and under it, imported goods were allowed to enter the Philippine market tariff-free. “Being a distributor was no longer viable since the industry was deregulated,” David explains. “I was left with the option to either downgrade to a dealer or upgrade to a manufacturer. I chose the latter in order to have an edge in the marketplace.”
The decision would prove to be fortuitous. By 1997, the company rebranded for the last time. As DwightSteel Building Systems Inc., the company focused on steel as its core material for manufacturing. And from two people and three tables, DwightSteel grew to a formidable player in the industry, with 12 satellite offices and 11 manufacturing plants nationwide.
To date, DwightSteel is headquartered in San Juan City, Metro Manila and has operations in Cebu, Davao, Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, Cavite, Isabela, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Rizal, and Tacloban. The latest addition is a facility in Iloilo.
They’re also headed for expansion. They will soon begin construction of their own building in Mandaluyong, which will serve as DwightSteel’s new headquarters. It will be a bigger workspace to accommodate their growing manpower and to make room for bigger and better training facilities.
They also have 17,000 sqm worth of prime real estate in Urdaneta, Pangasinan, along MacArthur Highway. On this site will rise an industrial hub, signaling DwightSteel’s plans of diversifying its portfolio.
With steel roofing, decking, ceiling, siding products, and galvanized steel accessories in its portfolio, DwightSteel has been helping build high-quality homes for Filipinos for the past 30 years.
The company itself is home to its hundreds of employees. “I am proud of the fact that we have been providing continuous employment and personal and professional growth to employees for the past 30 years,” David says. “We have employees who have been with us from the beginning. We are thankful for being given the opportunity to be of service to others and for making a difference in the lives of our employees.”
Thirty years in an industry that is ever evolving is no small feat. David and his team have had to overcome the usual business pains when it transitioned into a manufacturing company—from sourcing of raw materials, machineries, and efficient manpower to additional financing for importation and production. He was the new player: the David to a host of Goliaths. It wasn’t an easy climb to the top, but slowly and steadily, the company established its foothold in the industry.
“We have managed to flourish despite the countless adversities that we have encountered along the way,” David shares. “These adversities have taught us resilience, patience, and how to face criticism. The challenges built us up, strengthened our resolve, and compelled us to break boundaries.”
To make it to the top is one thing; to stay there requires a whole different set of discipline and commitment. David has maintained a streamlined structure within his organization, despite its ever growing size. Management, which now also includes his daughters Sabrina, Finance Officer, and Colleen, Operations Officer, is heavily involved in day-to-day operations.
“The management is very hands-on,” David explains. “Getting in touch with higher management is relatively quick and easy, which allows for prompt decision-making. Moreover, employees who start from the bottom yet show dedication and potential can move up the company structure, allowing room for professional growth.”
Their approach to customer service is unparalleled: every customer—architect, developer, contractor, homeowner; whether he’s building a small family home or developing a set of high-rise buildings— gets the same level of commitment and first-class service. “We also hold perseverance, integrity, and fairness in high regard,” David adds. “We own up to our mistakes and make the necessary amendments to resolve issues.”
But David also points out that he and management could not have done it alone. He is grateful for the many people who have been a part of the company’s 30-year journey. “We thank our employees, suppliers, and banks for their unflinching support, invaluable trust, and for helping us for the past 30 years,” David notes. “We thank our customers for their loyalty and patronage of our products. Without these three cogs in the machine—employees; suppliers; and partners, both banks and customers—we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
On Top at 30
Thirty years later, David Ong is not resting on his laurels. If anything, he’s still the same determined and zealous David of 1989, eager and ready to take on the challenges of the next 30 years and more.
“It’s been 30 years, but we’re just starting,” he smiles. Perhaps even more telling of the company’s unbridled vigor is its new logo. “We wanted a new logo to really highlight DwightSteel’s commitment, resilience, relationship-driven customer service, and high level of expertise,” David explains. “Behind the very hardline business of construction is a company that cares for honor and integrity.”
The marketplace is also just as dynamic and still constantly changing, with a lot of smaller manufacturers, some from mainland China, setting up shop and selling materials at much lower prices. Competition is tougher but DwightSteel, banking on its 30 years of strong-as-steel reputation, is undaunted. “We have to always change with the times and embrace the competition to stay relevant,” David reminds his team.
DwightSteel’s journey toward product innovation and integrity, research development, engineering efficiency, logistic enhancement, and nationwide reach continues. It’s still the same company with the highest set of standards for product excellence and customer service. But time and experience have only made DwightSteel stronger, more resolute, and ready—more than ever—to take on the next challenges of this new chapter.
As David so aptly puts it, “It’s not how far we’ve come, but how far we can go.”