For Norminio Mojica, there’s plenty to smile about after a challenging few years, with resiliency helping Suzuki Philippines successfully navigate the supply chain challenges and production disruptions that have caused businesses around the region to shrink or re-evaluate plans.
A steady increase of its dealership network nationwide has seen the company gain market share: leapfrogging from number seven in the market in 2019 to number five in 2022. Its motorcycle division also maintained its double-digit share and sales remain strong for its outboard motors.
The business was also named one of the Philippines’ Best Employers for 2023 by the Philippine Daily Inquirer – the first time it has received such an accolade.
Managing Director Mojica believes a key aspect that has helped Suzuki Philippines achieve such results in the face of challenges is its strong brand identity. “The image of Suzuki is really good,” he explains. “The brand has been in the Philippines for so many years already, so we have an established name in the market.”
“Investments in this machinery and equipment have all been done for the purpose of expanding our production capacity.”
Suzuki Philippines, a wholly owned subsidiary of Suzuki Motor Corporation Japan, has been in the country since 1957, where the brand has become synonymous with quality, innovation and value.
Along with expanding Suzuki Philippines’ dealership network, Mojica also credits the growth to investments in its “robotic value process”. This included an expansion of its engine assembly capability, its production line and its plastic injections capacity.
“Investments in this machinery and equipment have all been done for the purpose of expanding our production capacity,” he says.
Suzuki Philippines also received certifications from the International Organization for Standardization for quality management systems and environmental management. “This means that Suzuki is more than capable to export,” Mojica explains. Indeed, exports have already commenced to countries such as Thailand and Vietnam.
Moving out of the pandemic, Suzuki Philippines is poised for further growth. It is gearing up for the introduction of hybrid vehicles. In January 2023, its Ertiga hybrid model debuted to widespread acclaim.
And it doesn’t seem like they are stopping there. “Suzuki is gearing up for the transition to electric vehicles,” Mojica reveals.
Looking into the future, however, he does see some challenges on the horizon. The lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and war in Ukraine has provoked economic difficulties, with Suzuki Philippines depending on increasingly expensive imports and having to rationalize costs, according to Mojica.
He describes the environment as more difficult than during the 1998 Asian economic crisis or the 2008 global financial crisis. It’s especially challenging with suppliers as the Philippine peso depreciated against the United States dollar in 2022.
“There will be disruptions, but generally speaking, the show must go on.”
Mojica has emphasized open communications with dealers and suppliers as an anecdote to these difficulties. “The communication line should be open,” he says. “For us to really combat the difficulties, there should be a give and take by both parties, our suppliers and Suzuki, to help to maintain good business relations.”
And, even with the economy presenting challenges, Mojica has no plans to take his foot off the accelerator. “Most of the key players in the industry have been stepping back in expanding their network, but for Suzuki it’s the other way around. We hope to continue expanding our network, regardless of the situation,” he says.
“We have to be ready for the worst and just continue what we’re doing. Yes, there will be disruptions, but generally speaking, the show must go on.”
Such courage in planning and execution in performance has placed Suzuki Philippines among the company’s top performing subsidiaries.
The tribulations of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mojica says, proved a training ground for true leaders in the organization who shone amid the hardship. “The global pandemic has challenged the age-old management principles, such that no predefined style is applicable anymore,” Mojica says.
“The global pandemic has challenged the age-old management principles, such that no predefined style is applicable anymore”
“What it taught me as a leader is to have a mindset that looks forward and the importance of being a role model and demonstrating the correct behavior to inspire people to battle through difficult times.”
Mojica describes his leadership style as “helping discover the potential in people and putting the right person to the right position”. But he also describes a willingness to calculate risk and act accordingly.
“You really have to see beyond the situation,” he says. “It’s quite difficult, but it’s better to take the calculated risk now to counter the larger risk ahead of us. That is key for us to keep afloat amid the competition.”