Norkis: An extended, expanding family
A large number of original and retired Norkisans continue to maintain their ties with the company through their children and grandchildren who have joined the Norkis family. Employees have always cherished the strong family-oriented corporate culture the Quisumbings imparted.
Geraldine Juan Petalio, NQJr’s trusted secretary, is the daughter of a long-time Norkisan, Florentino Juan. A two-time Outstanding Employee awardee, Mang Poling was 18 when he was hired as a janitor in Norkis-Mandaluyong in 1968. When he became a truck helper, he decided to attend a vocational course for driver-mechanics. He cherishes the memory of being the first to drive Norkis’ brand new delivery truck, a job he held for 17 years. Highly reliable, he would often be requested to drive for the Quisumbing family. He was tapped to look after the construction of the Norkis warehouse in Novaliches in the late 1990s.
“He was able to support our family and send us to schools,” says Geraldine of his father, who, at 47, retired as chief mechanic in 19978 after 30 years of faithful service. NQJr, who felt Mang Poling still had a lot of productive years ahead of him, offered a Norkis dealership.
But Mang Poling was more comfortable with the trucking business, and with NQJr’s encouragement, he borrowed P300,000 from Norkis which he used to buy a delivery truck. “I have been a trucking contractor for Norkis for seven years,” Mang Poling says. His son-in-law helps him run the family business. Mang Poling, happy that his daughter is now the secretary of NQJr., says he hopes his grandchildren will eventually work for Norkis too.
Jose C. Yap was one of the original five employees who joined Norkis in 1962. Then a 22 year-old engineer, Joe was in charge of the assembly line, supervising a mechanic, a utility man and a sales engineer. “We started with 12 units. Two months later we were doing 36 and the rest is an amazing trail of success,” he recalls. “The owners are very strict and disciplined but their honesty and sincerity strengthened the confidence and morale of the employees.”
For Joe, the Norkis corporate culture, which revolves around NQJr’s concept of a “Big Family” is the key to its success.
NQJr still remembers those painful years when Norkis had to lay off many of its workers, cutting down its workforce from 2,000 to 500. “That was in the early 1980s when the country was hit by one of the worst economic crisis,” NQJR says. All of them were eventually rehired two years later, he recalls.
Ofelia Rivera, the Group controller, has been with Norkis for over 30 years. “I stayed with Norkis this long because the Quisumbings always treated us like family. The organization has grown a lot but the Quisumbings continue to have that personal tough many of us cherish,” Ofelia says.
She adds the Quisumbings went out of their way to know them personally. “We were all on first-name basis with Mr. and Mrs. Quisumbing, especially during those early days when our organization was still small,” she recalls.
As an accountant, Ofelia regularly checked the operations of the growing network of Norkis branches. “My regular travels helped broaden my perspectives, the experience helped a lot in my personal development,” she says. “I also met my husband here.”
No doubt, this is another factor why Norkis will always be in her heart.
Credit manager Carmela Mah also attests to the Quisumbings nuturing nature. “I was always self-conscious and I had difficulty in dealing with different kinds of people. The Chairman and his wife Britta encouraged and inspired us to excel in our jobs. They would complement us for a job well done, and in the process, I was able to build my self-confidence,” Carmela says.
The Quisumbings’ personal concern over the welfare of their employees became even more concrete for Carmela when her house was destroyed by Typhoon Ruping in 1989. “My parents were very old then and, in flash, we lost our ancestral home. With the help from the Quisumbings, I was able to get a loan of P50,000 and rebuilt our house.” She even received recycled lumber for free. “Everytime I looked at my ceiling, I would see the number codes of the motorcycle parts,” Carmela chuckles, remembering the wooden planks from Norkis’ crates that were given to her.
Brothers Elias and Edgar Ceniza are forever grateful to the Quisumbings. Edgar, who works as warehouse foreman in the Parts and Accessories division, had a road accident in 1998. Sustaining severe head injuries, he needed to undergo major surgery and the Quisumbings helped defray his medical expenses. His brother Elias, who joined Norkis in 1965 as a casual employee in the Yamaha assembly line, is an Outstanding Employee Awardee. Elias is now in charge of Bargain Parts in Mandaue City.
Many joined Norkis as ordinary laborers, pursued various avenues of self-improvement and eventually succeeded in climbing up Norkis’ corporate ladder.
Ruben Baculi was 23 years old when he was hired as a gardener in 1984. He took care of NQJr’s roses and bougainvilleas that abound in the Mandaue compound. Like Mang Poling, he never hesitated to do odd tasks – at one time, he even took the initiative of re-arranging the office of the Chairman himself. NQJr prodded Ben, then a sophomore accounting major, to finish his studies. He moved on to become the grounds supervisor then shifted to marketing agri-products. He also helped administer the company’s scholarship program. For Ben, the multiple tasks assigned to him were challenges. “It was a manifestation of the Chairman’s trust and confidence in me. He served as my inspiration for me to finish my studies,” he says.
Today, Ben is one of the senior operating officers assigned to handle PASAKA or Panaghiusa sa Kauswagan (Unity for Progress), a labor cooperative that provides services such as the fabrication and painting of Multicabs. Ben also serves a councilor of Guadalupe in Cebu, the third biggest barangay in the country where about 70,000 people live.
An employee must excel in order to survive and prosper in Norkis. “We do not tolerate favoritism; promotions are always based on merit,” NQJr often reminds Norkisans.
Rodrigo B. Enriquez had worked for four years in one of the Quisumbing affiliates when he decided to join Norkis in September 1976 as a milling machine operator in Norkis’ motorcycle frame and fender section. A mechanical engineer, he eventually got involved in product development. “We operationalize the product ideas of the Chairman,” Rudy says.
Rudy is proud to have risen from the ranks through hard and honest work. Now the senior vice president for research and development reporting directly to the Chairman, Rudy was involved in the development of the Multicab. “I had my biggest challenge when I was asked by the Chairman to work on the design of a compact car that also integrates the key features of a small truck,” he says. And the Legacy First was born.
Dodong Abenio started as a janitor/messenger. Able to type well, he later became a documentation clerk for Yahama’s PAD. This enabled him to accumulate knowledge – on the intricate motorcycle spare part numbers and codes – which he realized was crucial to the efficient storage and movement of stocks.
Norkis further opened more doors of opportunity for Dodong as he moved on to sales and marketing. “The driving force, especially in the Parts division, is to meet the target assigned to us – always. This drive has made me a better workers and person,” he says. Dodong, an Outstanding Employee awardee, is the sales manager of Yamaha’s PAD.
Working with Norkis has been fulfilling for Dodong. “Our life has improved a lot. My only dream now is for my children to finish their education and, hopefully, one for them will join Norkis to take my place later when I retire,” he says.
Ephraim C. Olido served the Norkis family for many years as guard, janitor and messenger. One of its Outstanding Employee awardees, Olido is now a liaison staff at the Norkis Communication Center in Manila. “This is like my second home,” he says.