Mekeni is one of the most successful brands not only in the Philippines, but throughout Asia. But like any successful company today, Mekeni started as a small family business. And like any successful business, Mekeni experienced several crises throughout its life—and conquered every single one of them.
It was in 1991 when the company experienced its first major crisis with the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in June of that year. Back then, Mekeni was just a small business with less than 25 employees, operated by Tatay Felix and Imang Meding Garcia—former public school teachers who started a small business with their life savings— and their sons Doods and Nards in the backyard of their home in Porac, Pampanga.
When Mount Pinatubo erupted, Porac was one of the most devastated in the province, and their backyard meat processing plant was almost completely destroyed. But instead of being disheartened and losing hope because of seemingly insurmountable odds, they decided to steel their resolve and help their kababayans by providing livelihoods and uplifting their community.
Mekeni founder Tatay Felix Garcia (4th from left) poses with sons (from L to R) VP for Admin and Finance Angelito Garcia, VP for Supply Chain Management Adrian Garcia, VP for Sales and Marketing Nardo Garcia, President Pruds Garcia, and VP for Manufacturing Diosdado Garcia. Pruds and his brothers have been helping the company grow even as it faced different crises throughout the years.
By enlisting their children’s help, 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.”
Eventually, the business recovered and even grew exponentially thereafter. By 1994, a new processing plant had been constructed with a capacity to process 3,000 kilos of meat a day, which operated 24 hours daily. Employee count had also grown to about 35 people, all of them neighbors of the Garcia family. But not long after, back-to-back challenges sprung up but this did not dishearten the family behind Mekeni.
Though the thought of closing down the business crossed their mind, a timely reminder from their father 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.
Through perseverance and dedication, the family got through the obstacles they faced and enjoyed a period of growth and success that propelled the company to what it is now—one of the most awarded processed meat companies in the country.
Over the years, Mekeni has encountered many problems, but they always went back to the most important things to them: their people and their community. This kept them centered. 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,” he said.
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.