Almost everybody loves ice cream. As dessert or snacks, ice cream lifts up someone’s spirits amid life’s dragging existence. For only P10, a schoolgirl, a teenage boy or a working woman takes a break in a street corner, near a school or in a building’s lobby, then moves on. This little truth has inspired Victorino “Vic” Isidro Perea to sell ice cream called Mr. Softy in a public market in Marikina. It is soft served ice cream – easily done by an ice cream maker and served in a cone or a cup because it is not too thick – that Vic sells.
After staying in the U.S. for two years, Vic returned to the Philippines in 2000 with his American experience, a second-hand ice cream maker which he got for $4,000 and started doing business. He knows how to sell ice cream because he was once the sales manager of Presto ice cream. “My experience in Presto ice cream inspired me a lot to pursue the business,” he says.
Starting with one employee in his first store in Marikina, Vic now has almost a hundred people and 71 stores involved in the family-owned Mr. Softy Ice Cream, Inc., the pioneer and leading ice cream company in the Philippines today. “We treat our employees fairly and establish a good relationship with them. Also, we always see to it that dealing with our suppliers and customers is always fun and professional,” he says.
The ice cream family
Vic, who serves as president and CEO, is proud of his ice cream business, a family business which he runs with his entire family. “Our family operates our business professionally and harmoniously. Everyone has a role contribution of their own. I see to it that the company is going to one direction,” he says.
His wife, Dr. Marinella Perea, is the executive vice president and treasurer. “My eldest son Vinson handles marketing and sales, my second son Vernon is in-charge of operations and my third son Virgo is responsible for new concepts. My only daughter Catherine Ann takes care of events and new products,” he says.
That’s teamwork, which makes Vic and his family work together harmoniously. Tempered with discipline and powered by hard work, the family ice cream business thrives and shares its success to other entrepreneurs by offering a franchising opportunity to those who want to venture into business.
For P445,000, an entrepreneur can have his own franchised Mr. Softy. The amount covers an ice cream machine, a standard cart, a franchise fee, a security deposit and initial supplies. Mr. Softy ice cream offers at least seven varieties served in a wafer or Belgian cone or in a cup, plain or coated with chocolate, strawberry or banana or sprinkled with chocolates and candies.
Although the company is led and managed well by the family, Vic says they plan to hire professionals this 2016. “We, the owners, will be on the sideline and let these professionals run the show. We really need changes, because after 15 years of operation, we feel that there’s more to explore,” he says.
For example, the company plans to expand outside the Philippines which requires enormous preparation, both professionally and financially. It has been consulting with a family business coach in professionalizing the organization by having a succession plan which identifies who will follow the founder and a family constitution which contains the company’s core values and principles.
Vic says this is all for the continuity of the family business that he and his family have nurtured through the years, giving Filipinos a delightful break by having Mr. Softy ice cream.
Mr. Softy ice cream also seeks strategic alliances with SM, Robinsons and other major malls in the Philippines and sustains its market leadership through intensified research and development.
The pleasure Mr. Softy ice cream gives to consumers may be fleeting, but the joy to the owners drives them to continue the business, even professionalize and expand it. They want the business to continue as long as their Mr. Softy gives happiness to everyone.