Mekeni Food Corporation started out as a small family business and became one of the most successful brands in the Philippines and in Asia. Like any other successful businesses, Mekeni had its own shares of crises, too. Yet the company prevailed over all of these daunting challenges throughout its 34 years of business.
Mekeni’s first major crisis took place when Mount Pinatubo erupted in June 1991. That time, Mekeni had less than 25 employees and was operated by former public school teachers Tatay Felix and Imang Meding Garcia. Through the couple’s life savings and with the help of their sons Doods and Nards, they started their business in the backyard of their home in Porac, Pampanga.
With Porac being one of the worst hit cities during the Mount Pinatubo eruption, the family’s backyard meat processing plant was almost totally destroyed. However, instead of losing hope and getting disheartened, they steeled their resolve and help their kababayans by providing livelihood and helping their community get back to its feet.
With the help of their children, including their sons Adrian, Pruds and Lito, who were then based overseas, they made it their life’s mission to make a difference in the lives of others. “It was the peak of my career,” said Pruds Garcia, president of Mekeni, recounting his time working as an accountant in Saudi Arabia. “But I had to leave my high-paying job so that I can go back and help my parents rebuild the business.”
The business recovered eventually and grew exponentially thereafter. By 1994, a new processing plant was constructed that can process 3,000 kilos of meat a day and which operated 24 hours daily. Mekeni’s workforce grew to 35 employees who were all neighbors of the Garcia family. But not long after, back-to-back challenges surfaced, which the family met head on.
While the thought of closing down the business crossed their minds, their father’s timely reminder helped them make the right decisions. “My father said: ‘Son, I just want to remind you the reason why you came back. It’s not for us, it’s not for you. It’s for the people’,” Garcia recounted.
Because they persevered and never gave up, the family overcame the obstacles and enjoyed a period of growth and success that made it one of the most awarded processed meat companies in the country today.
Despite the many business setbacks that Mekeni has experienced, the company always goes back to the most important things to them: their people and their community. And now that the country faces one of the greatest challenges in our history, Garcia has a simple advice for businesses of all sizes: ““In times of crisis, you go back to the mission and vision of the company.”
Having experienced numerous major crises over the course of its life, Mekeni has proven that with hard work, perseverance, and a profound sense of dedication to service, any business, no matter the size, can conquer any challenge that life throws at it.
“Crises will always be there. The important thing is to always go back to your ‘why.’ Why did you start this business? You can always change the process, you can always change the strategy, but never that goal,” Garcia said.