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Port Authority

In Focus
NAME:Tomas Riveral
LOCATION:Cebu City, Philippines
With the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic behind it, the global logistics industry is returning to a new normal. In the Philippines, OPASCOR CEO Tomas Riveral says his corporation was able to maintain strength in the tough times, thanks to its people and partners.

The years between 2020–2023 have been a double-edged sword for Tomas Riveral, CEO of Oriental Port and Allied Services Corporation (OPASCOR).

On one hand, tremendous challenges around the world have taken their toll; on the other, he says, many previously unrealized opportunities presented themselves to the cargo handling provider.

“Our business strategy is better aligned to ensure the continuity of the business and its sustainability.

“The COVID-19 pandemic was a shocking global phenomenon, but another development for us is that two other ports are operating in our region,” he says.

“This has challenged us to continually learn and grow, and work harder to keep the business afloat despite the competition and the pandemic fallout.”

A New Approach

This required growth has caused Riveral and his team at OPASCOR’s Cebu International Port headquarters to completely change its way of thinking. Quite a feat, given OPASCOR was already innovatively owned and operated by staff as a Worker’s Enterprise.

“It has reshaped our managerial thinking into two eras: pre-pandemic and post-competition,” Riveral says. “I think when we were living in that seemingly undisturbed world, we were more confident but more lax. Now, we’re sharper and our business strategy is better aligned to ensure the continuity of the business and its sustainability.”

Part of that strategy, acquisition, has seen OPASCOR expand its footprint. “We bought a property at the former Sandoval Shipyard and we’re developing into a container yard,” he says.

“Additionally, we have 3.7 hectares we’re developing as another yard. On top of that, we bought a property in Compostela, which we’re planning to turn into an international port for breakbulk cargo.”

Binding this process of expansion is Riveral’s philosophy of inspirational leadership.

“We’re very thankful and proud to be a partner of OPASCOR, and we admire Tomas Riveral and his team for their dedication, resilience and vision. It’s truly an honor to learn from such an established and progressive organization.” – Javier M Sala, General Manager, JMS Fuel Resources


“We practice motivation, not compulsion,” he says. “We’ve also been practicing relational leadership; establishing healthy relationships with our people rather than instilling fear in them.”

Going wider, OPASCOR is governed by what Riveral describes as a co-visionary leadership. “All key officers, as well as our main managers, are involved in making long-term plans for the company,” he says.

That method has led to the development of a so-called ‘participatory leadership’ style within OPASCOR. “Our people are always consulted whenever decisions have to be made,” Riveral says. “That’s the kind of leadership that works for us.”

Leadership by Committee

This method of leadership by committee has allowed OPASCOR to branch out in new ways.

“We’ve created a truck distribution company, Oriental Truck Distribution and Automotive Services, which facilitates our own needs for our subsidiaries,” he reveals.

Oriental Truck Distribution and Automotive Services included, OPASCOR has four subsidiaries: Golden Continental Port Terminal Services; DIADEM Terminal Maritime Services and Realty; and the recently acquired environmental waste management company, RRDS Environmental Services.

“Our brand is characterized by being dependable, reliable and reputable.

It may seem like a large portfolio, but Riveral says the company is all too aware of the risks of expansion.

“We don’t want to overburden ourselves,” he says. “Our vision is for our subsidiaries and acquisitions to stand alone to allow OPASCOR to focus purely on the cargo handling business.”

A new holding company, Oriental Holdings, has been established to manage OPASCOR’s subsidiaries. And already, the RRDS division is bearing fruit.

“We’re hoping to enter a contract with foreign players surrounding hospital waste management in the Philippines,” he says.

Meanwhile, Oriental Truck Distribution and Automotive Services has been able to feed a supply of CAMC trucks to DIADEM.

These extra arms also give OPASCOR a financial boost. “We’re always trying to develop an operational modality that will appropriately suit our operations at the Cebu International Port,” Riveral says. “So we’re totally replacing our second-hand equipment with brand new gear to have the competitive advantage that brings.”

So far, that’s a new quay crane, two rubber-tyred gantry cranes and a rough terrain crane to augment OPASCOR’s operational capability. The additions are in keeping with what Riveral describes as OPASCOR’s effective methods.

“Our brand is characterized by being dependable, reliable and reputable,” he says. “In fact, our motto is ‘Optimum Quality in Port Services, Always!’ Although we are operated by people with years of industry experience, we never cease to train our staff and research the best ways to do what we do.”

Reliability and Efficiency

These qualities have made OPASCOR stand out in the eyes of customers seeking a dependable partner in the business.

“They want reliability, they want timeliness, they want efficiency in handling their cargoes,” he says. “The best quality port services are always in demand, especially now in such a competitive arena as the Philippines.”

But OPASCOR wouldn’t be able to compete so easily without the help of its network of partners and suppliers. Although the pandemic caused great disruption to the world’s supply chains, Riveral says OPASCOR’s avenues stayed relatively untroubled thanks to open communication and good relationships.

“Obviously we need to have a steady flow of materials, parts and other essentials,” he says. “During the pandemic, we used modern technology – Zoom, emails, other technological means – to keep in touch with our partners to ensure no disruptions. We lost none of our suppliers and very few customers during the pandemic for this reason.”

“Whatever the future holds, I want the business community to know that we’re here and ready to serve.

Companies such as JMS Fuels and financier BDO, as well as Singaport Technologies Engineering – OPASCOR’s long-time supplier of equipment and partner in equipment technology upgrades – remained close allies of OPASCOR during and after the pandemic, which allowed business to continue as usual.

“We believe that once you have established a good relationship, you must maintain continuity in your dealings with those companies,” he says. “These are critical parts and services, so problems must be easily solved.”

With so much going on in the world of cargo handling and logistics as the world reaches a new normal, Riveral knows the importance of keeping OPASCOR and its services front of mind for customers.

“Our new marketing department has created a value-based strategy, which involves continuing consultation with our customers on the type of equipment they need and the type of cargoes and vessels they’ll bring to Cebu International Port,” he says.

“We’re continuing to upgrade the skills of our employees through constant training, and we’re working to make our operations as cost-effective as possible.

“The pandemic showed us all that anything can happen, so whatever the future holds, I want the business community to know that we’re here and ready to serve.”

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