WHEN one decides to export, one has to be sure the product passes the strictest of standards.
Pedro “Pete” Delantar Jr., president and chief executive of Nature’s Legacy Eximport Inc. did exactly that. He braved the export industry by introducing high-value home furnishings and accessories using sustainable materials to the global market.
Delantar is the youngest son of Judge Pedro Delantar Sr. and Victoria Delantar. He finished college in the Cebu Institute of Technology where he earned his industrial engineering degree.
Prior to becoming an exporter, Delantar ventured into part-time jobs, selling consumer card services and backpacks while still in school. After college, he worked for an American company, which exposed him to the nitty-gritty of running a big team and a global operation.
Believing that more could be done as an entrepreneur, Delantar moved out of his comfort zone and started doing things on his own. Fortunately, an export client asked him to supply products for them.
Delantar said sometimes, it only takes one, big bold move to make things happen.
Together with his wife Catherine, they initially ran a rattan manufacturing company in 1983 until 1996. However, the stiff competition in the market pushed them to venture into stone carving in 1991 until they invented Naturescast, which paved the way for Delantar’s invitation to be a founding member of Sustainable Furniture Council (SFC).
SFC is a US-based non-profit balanced coalition of industry players promoting sustainable practices among manufacturers, retailers and consumers. He is the first and only Filipino founding member of SFC.
Delantar turned fallen leaves and twigs into a global business.
Naturescast was born in 2002, during one of the clean and green community activities at the firm’s factory, where all employees were able to gather a heap of agro-forest debris composed of fallen leaves, shrubs and twigs.
“There were suggestions to have these materials burnt, but my wife, Cathy, thought of another way of getting rid of the waste. We thought of converting the waste into something useful, and after two years of research and experiments, we launched Naturescast, a material innovation that is sustainable and eco-friendly,” Delantar said.
Naturescast is a material innovation that recycles natural scrap materials like dead bark, shrubs, fallen twigs, leaves and other agro-forest waste to produce handcrafted products. It was the firm’s third material innovation after stonecast and marmorcast.
Delantar’s green innovations are well mirrored in occasional furniture, home accessories, lawn and garden, architecture and interior design, packaging, and fashion accessories, which have reaped several awards here and abroad.
“We have too much consumer and industrial waste. So I decided to recycle, upcycle and repurpose them,” he said.
Delantar’s gift of looking ahead of the competition has helped him win big battles in the export industry, which is currently softening.
Aspiring entrepreneurs who want to make it big in business should look at what’s around them and the competition, he said.
Being resourceful also counts.
“I encourage them to look for new opportunities outside the industry by utilizing existing infrastructure and competences to minimize capex (capital expenditure),” he said.
People are also important in the success of a business.
Delantar said entrepreneurs must take care of their workforce in their respective organization.
“Keep them updated and aware of the business so they can be supportive and be equipped or ready for change,” said Delantar.
To date, this multi-awarded “green entrepreneur” is known to have five inventions and 32 utility models that are recognized.
Delantar’s inventions are patented in the US, Europe and the Philippines. He is also the first Filipino who acquired a US patent for green products.
Besides running Nature’s Legacy, Delantar also holds positions in several entities like Filipino Inventors Society–Visayas Chapter Cebu, PriPress Corp., The Marmor Corp., CVD Ventures Inc., Cebu Fine Export, and Various Manufacturing Company Asian Arts Inc., a US-based company.
Among Delantar’s notable awards are the gold prize in the 2015 International Invention Competition in Geneva, Switzerland, winner for the Asean Business Awards 2017 under the category Priority Integration Sector Excellence Award for wood-based, and first Philippine-made Eco-sustainable Material Product recognized and featured in 2017.
What was your first job?
Since I had one unit left before graduation in college, I took a part-time job selling consumer card services and at the same time, sold backpacks for extra income.
Back in high school, I was already selling many small things to my classmates.
Who inspired you to get into business?
I was raised in an environment where my grandparents were traders of copra, abaca and salt. In fact, they were one of the big copra suppliers to a cooking company in Cebu in the 1960s. Since my father passed away when I was five months old, I had the desire and motivation to help my mother run her restaurant and retail business.
When did you realize this was what you were meant to do?
I tried working in a foreign-owned company right after college, but a sideline gave me more income than my job as a manager. That’s when I realized that I was destined to do business because I could spot opportunities and act accordingly.
Why did you pick this type of business or industry?
It came to me naturally while I was employed. My first and last employment was managing almost 1,000 employees as an operations manager. This stint equipped me with the knowledge to run a business.
When I started in the trading business, I felt it was not for us. Then came an export client who approached me and my wife to manufacture and supply for him. We accepted this, and the rest is history.
Where did you get the training you needed to succeed?
I received training at Stanford University through its business executive course, the Asian Institute of Management–Asian Center for Entrepreneurship through its various executive programs and the University of Asia and the Pacific through its strategic business economic program. I also completed training on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design 101 Program.
I also served as president of Cebu GTH (Gift, Toys and Housewares) Foundation Inc. and now, as member of the board in the Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation.
How many times did you fail before you succeeded?
I forgot to count the failures because we made sure we rebounded quickly from our falls, after learning and reflecting on the mistakes.