Joel T. Go is bent on continuing the legacy of his grandfather, Go Tong and his father, Jose Go, the two famous names behind the Ever Gotesco Group of Companies.
This 34-year old graduate of Electronics Communication Engineering was not involved in the family business until after the conglomerate was badly hit by the Asian financial crisis in 1997 when the Gos were forced to close down their banking arm, Orient Bank.
“Our father did not want to involve us in the business then. He wanted us to do what we want to do. He wants to make sure we live our lives the way we want it,” the young Go recalls.
Joel, however, believes that he, together with his brothers, are destined to become the keepers of the family’s business empire which begun in 1975 when the old Gos built their first mall.
“Being part of this family means a lot to me and my brothers. We want the public to know that despite what happened to us in the past, our conglomerate is here to stay and we will continue to stay resilient,” Joel says, with conviction.
The financial setback experienced before by the group, he says, serves as a challenge rather than a misfortune.
“It’s a good thing that we had this problem when we can still manage to repair the damages. Whatever fault we had before, we now have to make sure that we will never commit again,” he says.
Joel started to take part in the family’s enterprise seven years ago. Eldest of three brothers, Joel sees to it that the efforts of the old generation Gos, to establish a business that is anchored on family values will not go to waste. Only 27 that time, he was already a hands-on executive handling full operations and marketing of Ever Gotesco malls.
In 2004, Joel was assigned as president of the Metropolitan Medical Center which the Go family acquired. Along with managing the hospital, he also oversees the over-all operations of its school — the Metropolitan Hospital College of Nursing.
One of the few strategies and techniques injected by the young Go to the traditional business practice in the Gotesco group was the introduction of a middle management which he now heads.
“Our team is constantly on the lookout for fresh ideas to incorporate in our marketing strategies, unwilling to find ourselves behind the competition but always in the middle of it all,” Joel says.
Manned by young and talented group of professionals, the middle management sees to it that every little detail in the company’s operation will be reviewed; and must be consistent with the group’s core ideology which is “Enriching the Lives of the Filipino People.”
“We have been slowly keeping our phase. We have been moving forward. But this time, we have to be more careful. We are studying every step we are making,” he adds. “Continue to run the ‘malls for the masses’ will still be our battlecry.”
To keep up with this momentum, Joel says the group will now focus on the right market and invest on right projects. Being in the third generation of Gos, Joel is proud to say that he is also a “people person” himself.
He asserts that this distinct quality of the Gos will bring the conglomerate to the next level. “We are going to build a company that will last,” Joel says.
Based on the company’s five-year plan, it will be spending about P2.5 billion for the construction of four to five medium-sized malls.
“As we observe, we can not really compete with big malls. Metro Manila is saturated. So we will have to concentrate on the unserved market particularly in the suburban areas,” Joel says.
The company is now in the process of identifying the sites for the future malls. Among the areas being explored by the group are Parañaque, Laguna and Dagupan.
Aside from Gotesco Grand Central Mall, the group also runs Ever Gotesco Commonwealth Center, Ever Gotesco Ortigas Complex, and The Manila Plaza (Ever Recto).
Funds to finance these projects, he says, will partly come from internally-generated income. “Our cash flow is getting better. The revenue level of the group is stable,” Joel adds.
Joel says a number of banks have already approached them for possible loan arrangements.
“This only shows that many financial institutions still believe in the company’s ability to recover and expand its operation,” Joel notes.
The business blueprint of the company will also involve the renovation of its existing malls.
Next year, the group will start renovating one of its oldest malls, the five-hectare Gotesco Grand Central Mall located in Monumento, Kaloocan City.
By 2009, they will be putting up the first new mall with an estimated investment of more than P500 million.
Aside from pouring in capital in the expansion and renovation of malls, he says they will be investing P800 million to double the bed accommodation of UDMC to 800.
Modernizing the equipment and facilities of the hospital to cater to more advanced medical needs of their clientele, he says, is also part of the company’s medium-term plan.
The group also owns and manages a secondary hospital and nursing/retirement home in its 400-hectare golf course property in near Tagaytay. The Evercrest Golf Club Resort and Chateau Royal Sports and Country Club are being managed by the group’s Gotesco Land Inc.
A possible joint venture with a US-based hotel/ property developer is being explored by the group to take advantage of the growing potentials of the Batangas-based property.
“We can put an enclosed leisure/entertainment complex that may include spas, casinos in this property. This may also have a retirement home to cater to OFW retirees or even foreigners who want to spend their retirement period here,” Joel says. The idea of putting up a retirement home, he says, is consistent with the Gotesco group’s vision to maintain a family-oriented business.
“For one, our Ever Gotesco Malls shall become the household name for value-added shopping and every Filipino family’s mall of choice,” Joel concluded.