Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Teacher builder

Teacher builder 
Business World Online
September 28, 2010

Engr. Remegio Salanatin
Corporate President
R.G. Salanatin Construction

Civil engineer Remegio Salanatin, founder and president of R.G. Salanatin Construction, considers himself a "lucky entrepreneur" because he never planned things to happen but they just fell into place. And while he attributes his good fortune to "getting the right breaks at the right time," he blended vision, insight and expertise to transform this luck into a thriving construction business.

Entrepreneurship was not Mr. Salanatin’s original career track; it was in academe. After graduating valedictorian from the University of San Agustin in 1965 and placing second in the civil engineering board exams, he took up graduate studies in Structural Engineering at the University of the Philippines and Business Administration at the De La Salle University. He worked in Manila briefly before returning to the province to pursue his interest in education and learning. He joined the faculty of the Notre Dame Midsayap College and taught introductory courses on engineering.

However, it seemed that a quiet life as an educator was not his destiny when he was approached by two big schools in Cotabato City to help them with the construction of their buildings. Seeing an opportunity to put his knowledge into practice, he established R.G. Salanatin Construction in 1967. These initial projects became the foundation of his reputation as a dependable contractor. Looking back he says, "In those days, if people know that you are a faculty member, your credibility increases. Suppliers trusted me because they trusted my credentials."

Mr. Salanatin added innovation to his credibility. He developed two strategies that would be the hallmark of his company: the Design & Build (D&B) construction scheme, and Easy-to-Pay (ETP) terms.

D&B is a holistic approach to construction, offering the full suite of services from planning to design and the actual physical construction. This differs from the costly industry practice where owners first seek architects for the project design and then hire a builder.

Mr. Salanatin also offered the ETP option which would require his clients to pay only 30-70% of the contract price upon the project’s completion. The balance would then be paid off monthly over a six to 24-month period. Again, this was not typical in the industry where a downpayment and periodic payments are the norm.

While the D&B and ETP proved very popular with clients, Mr. Salanatin also came up with other methodologies to increase construction work efficiency. He formulated a unique construction scheduling method for project managers and supervisors called Milestone dates, on top of the standard Time Bar Chart construction schedule. This was done to enhance overall efficiency on project completion.

Mr. Salanatin also takes pride in having authored a handbook for construction supervisors. Based on his own experiences, this handbook serves as a best practices guide on how to become an efficient supervisor. He emphasizes the importance of completing a project on schedule with quality workmanship and within budget. He encourages construction supervisors to be committed to achieving these goals, as they largely determine the success of a project.

With his methodic and pedagogic approach to his business it is not surprising that majority of R.G. Salanatin Construction Company’s clients are academic institutions. The company lists among its many projects educational structures, including libraries, gymnasiums, high school and grade school buildings, and faculty and student housing. "Learning has always been a part of my life," he says with a smile. "From being a student, to a teacher, and now, as a builder of learning institutions. I help the country because I build schools, which is essential for education."

Having established the company’s reputation in the Cotabato region, Mr. Salanatin relocated to Davao in 1980, aspiring to become one of the five leading construction companies there. With determination, he was able to build up his company in Davao in less than five years. The company is now looking to expand further in the country, eyeing the Visayas region for potential opportunities.

Still a teacher at heart, Mr. Salanatin encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to do their best while still in school. He says, "Always strive for excellence even as a student. It is a person’s innate competence that will define his level of self-confidence. And you can’t be a true leader or manager without confidence."


The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2010 is sponsored by SAP Philippines. The official airline is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. Media sponsors are BusinessWorld and the ABS-CBN News Channel. This year’s winners will be announced on October 12, 2010 at an awards banquet at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel. The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines will represent the country in the World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2010 in Monte Carlo, Monaco in June 2011.