‘Bangus King’ expands operations, opens more branches
Photograph by Mr. Dagupeño Eric Montoya, founder and CEO of Mr. Dagupeño, who made Dagupan bangus extra special by providing business opportunities to women in Pangasinan.
‘We became hands-on entrepreneurs and after it worked, we opened the business to franchising to let others start their own businesses as well.’
By Raffy Ayeng
May 13, 2023
More customers will be given a chance to taste the lusciousness of bangus (milkfish) Dagupan, as small enterprise Mr. Dagupeño is expanding its operation and opening more branches throughout the country.
Dagupan in Pangasinan is the home of the Philippines’ tastiest milkfish, which was taken advantage of by Eric Montoya, the proprietor of Mr. Dagupeño who started selling bangus in 2016.
“My wife and I were into corporate jobs at Ayala Life as sales managers back then and I was the one who conceptualized the business plan for this business. I thank my wife for implementing the concept after we resigned, even though she is not a Pangasinense,” Montoya said.
Since there are a lot of restaurants in Dagupan that offer the famed bangus delicacies, Montoya said they brought the product to Antipolo City in Rizal province where they opened a single store with a pickup or to-go business model; from that single store, two more branches were opened in Antipolo after three years.
“We became hands-on entrepreneurs and after it worked, we opened the business to franchising to let others start their own business as well. We boomed during the pandemic, as our advantage is we originally started as pick-up business located in major thoroughfares. It’s a good thing that during the lockdowns, we were known to be a dependable store that could deliver ready-to-eat food to the neighborhood,” Montoya, known as “Bangus King,” told reporters.
He added that when most business were closed, they expanded their delivery operation reaching as far as Taguig City.
“Today, we have close to 70 take-out branches and there are ongoing openings,” Montoya said.
He said he was also grateful to the Department of Trade and Industry and its lending arm, Small Business Corporation, for providing them with soft loans that they used in expanding operations outside Antipolo.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, SB Corp. provided us with a loan without interest. It’s so easy to apply for a loan with them and I commend the government for providing those loans in order for small businesses to thrive and cope with economic uncertainties amid the contagion. That also helped us with the infrastructure in improving our commissary,” he said.
In 2021, the government, through DTI’s SB Corp. gave MSMEs the opportunity to secure loans under the Bayanihan Covid-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises program that provided MSMEs with urgent relief needed to restart their businesses amid the pandemic, amounting to P10 billion, P6 billion of which is for MSMEs, while the remaining is for tourism-related businesses.
Besides this, the SB Corp. has also kicked off its RISE UP Multipurpose Loan program that aims to sustain the gains of MSMEs that have survived the past two years of the pandemic crisis, by providing multi-purpose loans that have soft terms and can be easily accessed, catering to multi-sectoral MSMEs including existing SB Corp. borrowers.
As of 31 January 2023, approved loans for RISE UP reached more than 5,200, more than 3,200 are in ongoing processing, while those disapproved or unqualified loans reached 6,000.
Further, the SB Corp. said as of 31 January 2023, loans that have been funded by Bayanihan Cares and RISE UP have already reached P8.2 billion pesos.
“All they have to do is to comply with all the requirements and that’s it. The loan will be provided to you,” he said.
Montoya said part of paying forward the success of their business is by helping other businesses in his hometown to thrive, particularly their kababayans that process bangus in Dagupan.
“It is because we don’t have a background in raising bangus and we don’t want to risk that part. We thought of working hand-in-hand with small businesses in Pangasinan, particularly our supplier there who employ women in their community. Our major corporate social responsibility is to be able to help the community,” he said.
From being a bangus take-out kiosk in the country, he said this year, they plan to open a restaurant in Pangasinan, which will be called “House of Bangus.”
Not spared from headwinds
As inflation is constantly fluctuating, Montoya said they endured high prices and operational expenses while seeing to it that they’re able to maintain some sort of balance and minimal price adjustment.
“When inflation hit 8.6 percent in December 2022, that was the time that we increased a minimal amount of P10. We can’t help it as prices of gasoline and vegetables spiked during that time, especially onions used as filling in our bangus,” he said.
From the classic Inihaw na Boneless Bangus, Mr. Dagupeño now offers other delicious bangus delicacies, in its drive to become the number one bangus take-out kiosk in the country.
Mr. Dagupeño is now present in the different towns and cities of Rizal, Metro Manila,
Cavite, Laguna and, soon, in other places “where there is a clamor for good and tasty bangus.”
“Masamsamit ya talaga (It’s delicious) in Pangasinense,” he said.
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