Sailing to success-A A +A
Sunday, July 22, 2012
HERE is a simple story of how a Cebuano dream came true.
Back in the ‘70s, when mountaineering was starting to become popular among Filipinos, a group of friends who loved the outdoors and were enthusiasts as well, decided to manufacture their own equipment.
It started as something personal for this group of men. But the idea of actually doing it as a business inevitably arrived when their colleagues in the mountaineering community started noticing their personal gear and inquired about purchasing equipment from them.
With very small capital, struggling young architects Efren “Junks” Muaña, Randy Su and Dindo Sugatan formed Habagat Outdoor Equipment and set up shop in a borrowed garage in midtown Cebu City.
“Habagat started out as a hobby and was initially intended for our personal use because, back then, it was rather difficult to acquire equipment—with the market dominated by expensive foreign products that had to be imported through shipping, or with the help of friends who lived or traveled overseas,” shared the men behind Habagat.
Truly, success did not come overnight for the company. The first models that the engineers personally designed, patterned and sewed were even done on an old sewing machine. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, a lot of people in the country today—especially those inclined with the outdoor activities—have the brand name etched automatically into their consciousness.
And to think this is a brand proudly conceived in Cebu City.
“Habagat is one of the two or three companies that pioneered manufacturing outdoor gear and equipment in the country. But we definitely set the standard for quality through continuous research and innovation, and by having our products field-tested by athletes and outdoorsmen before we introduce them to the market.”
The company’s products were specifically designed with the Filipino physique in mind and primarily for use in tropical conditions. But then these very same products have been proven tough even in alpine conditions such as on Mt. Everest, Mt. Elbrus, and Cho Oyu—talk about Cebuano ingenuity.
Competition business-wise has tremendously grown since the ‘70s. But 25 years in the business is not something one can easily take away from the company. According to the group, the financial aspects make up only a fraction of the company’s vision and direction. The steering group behind Habagat has always been adamant about supporting endeavors that promote ecological stewardship—way before environmentalism and the green movement became popular.
“We have partnered with various organizations and even other outdoor equipment companies in coming up with activities that aim to highlight the fragility of nature and to educate the populace about their role in environmental conservation. Suffice it to say, we not only talk the talk but we have also been walking the walk—even before we started the company.”
Backpacks, footwear, gear, etc. now popularly known all over. Who would’ve thought these Cebuano architects who probably decided to throw caution to the wind when starting this venture would now have the wind blowing their sails into the direction of success? Padayon.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 23, 2012.