A few weeks ago, my dad Bunny and I were given a tour. We rode in a Toyota Rav4 as the driver, just like in any tour, circled the winding roadways. We stepped off the vehicle every few minutes, strolled inside the buildings, observed the operations. The entire tour lasted one and a half hours.
Our driver? Our guide? The one person who accompanied us the entire way and personally explained every detail of the vast kingdom?
For 90 minutes, the founder/owner of Profood International Corp. showed my dad and I building after building inside the 16-hectare conglomerate’s operations.
We climbed the upper deck to view thousands of skilled workers peeling the skin off the mangoes. We stepped inside the exclusive laboratory where chemicals and secret testing was on-going. We donned hard-hats to watch an assembly-line of Del Monte bottles being rolled off.
Best of all, the three of us watched a movie. No, we weren’t watching Wolverine inside his J Centre Mall — the “J,” of course, stands for Justin and his siblings, all of whom start with J.
We were inside the multi-million peso ampitheater of Profood to view a documentary of his business and of mangoes. “It’s my first time inside this theater,” said Justin, referring to Theater 2, which was newly-added. Lucky us. We got to watch the premiere showing of Justin’s movie seated beside the director himself, Mr. Uy.
As we left our Tour of Profood, my dad and I were in awe of the sights we witnessed. We were like 9-year-olds who just came from Disneyland.
But that’s not the full story. Because exactly 15 years ago, we visited Justin in the same Mandaue property. At that time, we just started operating Thirsty Juices and Shakes and considered a possible mango-supply arrangement.
Then, 15 years ago, Justin did exactly the same thing. He toured us. Personally. But then, the 16-hectare property he now commands was only a few hectares large. And then, it was a golf cart that Justin drove.
Fifteen years. How time travels fast. Justin, day after hour after month, has worked extremely hard to build, build, build. He is now the leading exporter of dried mangoes — not just nationwide, but possibly of this whole planet. (The best part, speaking of tourism, is that his “Cebu” and “Philippine” brands promote our names worldwide.)
Like the BMW Z4 that he drives, he steps on the gas pedal at full speed. But what’s amazing about Justin is not just how hard he works and how intelligent he is (he knows every single mechanism inside the Profood plant; often designing the equipment and systems himself — a true pioneer).
As successful an entreprenuer as Justin Uy is, he is so friendly and approachable. One time when my wife Jasmin brought a group of Rotarian spouses and they couldn’t enter the Profood Museum because they were too early for the 8 A.M. opening, I called Justin and he quickly dispatched a message to the guard.
As hard-charging and aggressive a businessman as Justin is, he is easy-going and relaxed as a person. Laugher and joke times? Ha-ha. You should hear his back-and-forth exchanges with his best friend Johnny Siao. He’s witty and funny and knows how to relax.
Speaking of relaxing, three years ago when I was president of the Rotary Club of Cebu West, our group of Rotarians flew to Singapore for the traditional visit with our “sister club,” the RC Singapore West. Justin joined us. For four days, we ate together and joined the functions. He played golf. Justin loves golf, often playing with buddies like Romy DyPico, Mark Yang, Danny Lua, John Young, and Hans Co, among others.
Finally, on this topic of relaxation, we once visited the Imperial Palace Waterpark Resort and Spa. We rode the elevator all the way to the top floor and walked inside the Presidential Suite that housed a grand piano, a jacuzzi beside the window glass (overlooking the sea) and amenities that are fit for a king.
Well, yes, that king of mangoes is Justin. He also happens to own Imperial Palace!