Since it was founded, JAKA Investments Corp. has imposed an indelible imprint on Philippine business, managing about 22 companies active in five core business areas: Distribution & Logistics; Lights & Woods; Food; Property & Security; and Investment Management.JAKA’s success story began with the acquisition in 1977 of a debt-ridden match factory, which has since been rehabilitated and consolidated under JAKA Equities Corp.
“That’s how the manufacturing side of JAKA started,” recalled JAKA Investments President and CEO Katrina Ponce Enrile, daughter of company founder Juan Ponce Enrile, who is currently president of the Philippine Senate.“This company, although privately owned, is run by a team of dedicated, professional individuals who are experts in their particular fields,” added Ponce Enrile, who attributes the conglomerate’s excellent performance to its 1,500 employees.As a fully diversified group, JAKA Investments has sought partners in some of their ventures.
A New Dawn in a Sunset Industry
While JAKA Equities Corp. is still the country’s largest match producer, company officials are looking beyond the manufacturing of matches, seeing sustainable forest management as a natural offshoot of the business.
“The company dove headfirst into intensive tree plantation, initially planting 3,470 hectares of trees specifically for matchwood manufacturing. Today, that area has grown to 23,000 total hectares. And it is located in an area free from typhoons and has no pronounced dry season, thereby allowing trees to grow all year round,” said Jose A. Yap, head of the lights and woods division.
“To fully utilize the excess harvest, we went into veneer manufacturing, which serves as raw material for plywood. We are also now looking at different species of bamboo as well,” added Ponce Enrile.
While the match industry is seen as sunset industry, sustainable forestry has emerged a burgeoning industry in a world more conscious about the environment. And the company takes forest management very seriously.
“We are into intensive tree plantation today. We accommodate as many as 1.6 million seedlings to fully utilize our resources,” said Yap.
A Finger on the Pulse of the Nation
Born out of the need to distribute the matches, JAKA set up its distribution and logistics division 20 years ago.
With its 7,107 islands, the Philippines poses a huge challenge to logistics companies, but JAKA has built a nationwide infrastructure that can access every point in the country.“We have warehouses in every key city to make it more strategic,” said Ariel Villaseñor, head of JAKA’s distribution and logistics side.
Splendido — Designed with the golfer in mind
That network provides JAKA with a huge competitive edge — consumer feedback on its various products and also those on third-party companies that have utilized JAKA Distribution Inc.’s services in the past, such as Gatorade, British American tobacco, Kraft Foods and Ovaltine.Aside from distribution, the company offers warehousing and inventory management as well.“If you look at it, the backbone of JAKA is fully utilized in terms of our own needs and what others need. We are very bullish about the opportunities in the coming years, and we invite other companies to come in and look at what we have to offer in distribution and logistics,” said Villaseñor.
After four years in development, JAKA unveiled its first property project in 2000 — the Splendido Taal Golf and Country Club, located beside the picturesque Taal Lake, less than an hour from the capital, Manila.
Determined to provide a world-class development, JAKA commissioned golf legend Greg Norman to design the 18-hole championship golf course as well as highly regarded local architect R.R. Payumo to design the Spanish mission–inspired clubhouse.
Apart from the golf club, JAKA is developing residential estates and luxury condominiums within the gated 250-hectare property.A self-confessed “foodie,” Ponce Enrile keeps a close eye on Splendido’s two restaurants — La Esquina, which serves Spanish food, and the Ladera Lounge.
While Splendido is the first major development for the JAKA Group, Ponce Enrile stressed that it certainly won’t be the last.“We have land?banked many of our properties near Manila and in other beachfront areas, and we are looking for strategic partners to help us develop those areas,” Ponce Enrile said.
With aggressive tactics and fundamental business sense, JAKA will surely be well positioned to be on the forefront of the Philippine market for many years to come.“Come to the country, see it for yourself, and let’s talk business,” she added.