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Monday, June 6, 2011

Alfredo Yao

Alfredo M. Yao is a Filipino-Chinese and a rags-to-riches businessman who founded the privately held company, Zest-O Corporation. His other businesses include Semexco Marketing, Inc., Harman Foods, Amchem Marketing, Inc., American Brands Philippines, Inc., SMI Development Corporation, Philippine Business Bank and Zest Airways. He also served as the Special Envoy to China for Tourism and Cooperation. He was conferred as the Most Admitted ASEAN Enterprise Award in the Innovation Category for his Zest-O Corporation. Yao was the awarded 2005 Master Entrepreneur by Ernst and Young.
Early life

Yao became a breadwinner at an early age after his father died when he was only 12 years old. He is the eldest of the six children, being penniless, he started to work to help the family because his mother’s earnings as a sidewalk vendor could not support their needs. He would accompany his mother to Chinese gambling dens to sell. He hardly finished his elementary and high school education but with the help of a relative, he completed it. He went to the Mapua Institute of Technology for college but had to leave after two years. Later on, he was still able to earn his degree in Engineering under the same institute and got his doctorate degree in Business Administration Honoris Causa from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

Yao worked hard and did odd jobs such as working in a warehouse of a packaging company. At that time, one of his cousins was working in a printing press and had the chance to visit the work place several times. And there he saw the potential market in the packaging business and decided to invest. It was the birth of Solemar Commercial Press, named after his mother.
The Birth of Zest-O

The said printing press was engaged into making cellophane wrappers of biscuits and candies and stayed 20 years as a business. Then in 1979, while touring around Europe, Mr. Yao came to discover the technology in packaging called “doy packs.” Or flexible foil packs, in one of the exhibits. He bought the machine and tried to market the idea of doy packs to local juice manufacturers in the Philippines but nobody seemed interested. He himself used the said equipment and started preparing fruit juice in his own kitchen.

The company was established as SEMEXCO Marketing Corporation, soon after it adopted the name Zest-O because of its fame. In 1980, Zest-O juice drink was launched and soon, it became a big-hit in the Philippines and eventually capturing 80% of the market for ready-to-juice drinks. Soon, other flavors were introduced to the market such as orange flavor are mango, grape, pineapple, strawberry, guyabano (sour soup), apple, calamansi, mango-orange, mango-calamansi and mango-lemon lime flavors.

Yao soon launched other brands including juice brands including Sun-glo Juice Drink, Big 250 Juice Drink, and Plus!which exported to other neighboring countries in Asia like China, Korea, and Singapore and in some parts of America and Europe, Tita Frita Tomato and Banana Catsup, Beam Toothpaste, One Ice Tea, and Tekki Yaki Udon.
Other business development

On 2008, local carrier Asian Spirit was sold to AMY Holdings and Yao expressed interest in merging it with South East Asian Airlines (SEA Air). The merger did not push through and each airline operated independently. Asian Spirit was eventually renamed as Zest Air.
Other positions and designations
  •     President: Asia Wide Refreshment Corp., Harman Foods (Phils.), Inc., Amchem Marketing, Inc., Uni-Ipel Industries, Inc., SMI Development, Inc.
  •     General Manager: Solmac Marketing, Inc.
  •     Finance Officer: Semexco Marketing Corporation and the Philippine Business Bank
  •     May 2006 – June 2007: Treasurer, Export& Industry Bank Inc.
  •     Director of One Mckinley Place, Inc.
  •     Director, UMC Finance and Leasing Corporation. He served as Director of Export and Industrry Bank Inc.
  •     Chairman Emeritus, Philippine Business Bank, Inc.
  •     2002–Present: Former Director and Director of Export & Industry Bank Inc, Arthaland Corp.
  •     2004: Vice Chairman and Director of EIB Realty Developers Inc, Export & Industry Bank, Inc.
  •     President and CEO, Zest Air.