Mike Tan reflects on three decades as a Pilmico Partner

Mike Tan, Pilmico’s President and CEO of the Food Group – ASEAN, shares his perspective on Pilmico’s journey to becoming the company that it is today.


Partner since 1996

I joined Pilmico in 1996. Back then, Pilmico’s operations were situated in one site, Iligan. In the site were a 300-ton-per-day hard mill, a 200-ton-per-day soft mill, and a 64-metric-ton-per month instant dry yeast manufacturing facility. Today, Pilmico is a multi-site with operations in Iligan, Tarlac, Vietnam, and a trading office in Indonesia. While Pilmico no longer operates in the yeast business, the company has diversified from its core business of flour milling into animal feed milling, aqua feed milling, swine farming, layer farming, and trading.

The question is why and how did Pilmico’s success come about in the last three decades? For me, I attribute this to three factors: strong leadership, company culture, and the right mindset.


Strong Leadership

Pilmico has been fortunate to have been led by three executives. Although their brand of leadership is contrasting, they share a lot of similarities that allow for continuity, cultivation, and enhancement.  This allowed the company to progress and adapt to changes over the past three decades.


Pilmico Culture

Pilmico’s culture has evolved over the last three decades.  From value adding in the 1980s, vision/mission in the 1990s, to brand promise in the mid-2000s, and purpose in 2017.

From the ‘60s to early ‘80s, flour was a seller’s market. To provide value-added services to customers, yeast and other baking ingredients were added to complement flour sales. Then came competition in the late ‘80s, margins were pruned and the flour milling industry had reached overcapacity. The entire flour milling industry was challenged.

To rally Pilmicans, Pilmico’s management team decided on the company vision of becoming “World Class” in order to compete locally and be among the best in the world. Old mills were replaced and modernized, the port was dredged, and unloading facilities were expanded to accommodate bigger wheat vessels. Technical, managerial and leadership skills were upgraded, support departments were strengthened (7-day Financial Statement after month end),  people values were fortified by mandating everyone in the organization to attend Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People seminar.

All of these were done to attain operational efficiency, enhance decision-making capability, and be a low-cost producer. The tangible results were the capacity expansion of Iligan’s flour mill and Pilmico venturing into animal feed milling and swine farming. With the company’s entry into another industry outside of flour, a second site in Capas, Tarlac was constructed and became operational in 1998.

In late 2009, Pilmico again experienced transformational cultural enhancement after a leadership change. Fun, transparency and open communication were encouraged. Attention to people was given more emphasis, brand building was intensified, and the use of technology was given more attention.  To further engage Pilmicans,  the vision of world-class Pilmico was enriched with a purpose of “advancing business and communities”. Pilmico values (integrity, responsibility, teamwork, and innovation) were identified and formally articulated. Pilmico leaders’ identity and capacity were identified through 6 leadership dimensions of integrity, fostering teamwork, mentoring and coaching, achieving results, sustaining growth and courageous authenticity.  

The values and leadership dimensions are what make up the DNA of Pilmico and differentiate us from other organizations. The results of all the hard work are the animal feed mill expansion in Iligan (2008), the 20-k sow head expansion by 2020 in Tarlac (2012), entry into aqua feed industry through the acquisition of Vin Hoan feeds (2013), the flour export into the ASEAN region (2015), the layer farm construction (2015), and the recent acquisition of Eurofeeds. The acquisition of Vin Hoan feeds instantly gave us access to the Vietnam aqua feed market and gave Pilmico its third site of operations. The acquisition of Eurofeeds animal feed milling enhanced our market presence in Vietnam.


Right mindset

At the core of Pilmico’s success is its people. Selecting people with the right talent and with the right attitude has been the key. People who are willing to adapt to changes for the better and embrace Pilmico’s values and culture will always have a seat in the Pilmico bus.

So what is the future for Pilmico? I think it’s embracing new technology, which gets us closer to the customer. We have to deliver our products in new and compelling ways.