Balamban Liempo expands chain

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014


WHEN one talks about business with Jojo Vergara, it would not be surprising to learn that he has grown Balamban Liempo into close to a hundred stores in just five years.

With just P50,000, he bought a griller and put up a roasted chicken stall in front of his father’s house, located in an interior road in Mabolo.

Unfazed, he took to social media to promote his stall, which was only a takeout counter at that time. Customers would then request if they could eat at the premises, prompting him to turn his mother’s garden into an eating area with plastic chairs.

It was much later that Vergara noticed the many brands of roasted chicken around town also sold roasted pork belly, but they were known more for their chicken. It dawned on him that he could build his brand around pork belly, rather than compete with the big names selling roasted chicken.

Lukewarm response

As Vergara’s wife hails from Balamban, he was familiar with the liempo stalls known in the town. He said that he approached some to propose a business partnership, but the response was lukewarm. Not one to give up easily, Vergara and his wife developed their own recipe and named their product Balamban Liempo.

Through franchising, Balamban Liempo has expanded quickly nationwide, opening branches in Luzon, Western Visayas, Central Visayas and Mindanao. And he, too, has a branch in Balamban.

Asked if the original stall owners resented him for it, Vergara admitted they were piqued at him at first. However, he said that many foodies who have heard of Balamban Liempo began seeking the original stalls and that his brand has helped the original liempo become a household name.

Vergara added that his outlet is located far from where the original stalls out of respect for the original owners.

Joint venture

Despite the quick growth through franchising, Vergara is not satisfied with how things have turned out. While he acknowledged that growth is faster under a franchise model, he could not control the management failures of some outlets and customers began to complain.

He is proposing a better solution to those who want to open their own Balamban Liempo stall--a joint venture.

For P250,000, an investor earns 50 percent of the net profits while Vergara’s team manages the store and trains the staff for a 15 percent management fee. Returns are shared every three months.

He hopes to grow his business this way, while staying on top of the situation and keeping investors worry-free. As they celebrate their fifth year, Vergara shared grand plans for his company.

Overseas market

While he is aggressively conquering the Philippine market, targeting 1,000 stores within 10 years, he also has dreams of bringing Balamaban Liempo overseas for Filipinos who want a taste of home.

He has been working hard to upgrade his standards for the eventual export of his liempo, getting the necessary certifications and ratings to prove his meat is of top quality and is clean.

He imports French meat to meet the 75 percent lean meat and 25 percent fat requirement. It is blast frozen to below 30 degrees after slaughter.

Using a ton of meat daily, Vergara admitted that local producers cannot meet his requirements, which is why he has to import to fill up his commissary.

Once he gets ISO-certified, he hopes to open in places like Singapore, the United States and Europe.

Vergara also has plans of propagating tourism in Balamban. He said he wants to develop a property that would have fishing and a petting zoo alongside a restaurant. He hopes to accomplish that in three to five years.

He is looking to expand to the countryside, saying he is experiencing good sales in the rural areas.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 02, 2014.

Business

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