Sunday, July 23, 2006

Philippine SME Success Stories (Part 3)


Barely three months after returning to the country in 1994, overseas seafarer and BS Marine Transportation graduate Hermogenes Comahig decided it was high time to stay put and be productive in his homeland.

Armed with the basic welding skills acquired as a seafarer, Comahig put up a welding, steel works, and metal crafts shop he named "Hermes Metal" in Tagbilaran City, Bohol to serve the needs of the construction industry of the city. The firm started with an initial capital of P150,000 plus a single welding machine, a push drill, two bench vises, one welder and one helper.

While it started small, the company soon earned the trust and confidence of more and more clients in Bohol and the neighboring provinces. Swamped with orders coming from as far as Mindanao, Comahig availed of a P1.3 million credit line under the SULONG program. The infusion of additional working capital enabled Hermes Metal to increase the efficiency of its operations though advanced technologies and new equipment.

Today, the firm has doubled its production of materials such as steel gates, steel windows, furniture, railings, and steel trusses, and other products requiring metal craftsmanship. Hermes Metal has also benefited from the rapid urbanization of Tagbilaran City and the mushrooming of residential and commercial establishments.

Like most entrepreneurs, Comahig is proud that he has been able to help a number of his town mates through his metal shop. "Providing jobs to my workers gives me a sense of fulfillment. And it's not just about the wages I give them. When they leave this shop, I know they have learned something valuable about metal craft which they can use in the future," he notes. Today, Hermes Metal employs 14 skilled workers, with the number swelling to around 24 during peak seasons.

Showing concern not just for his firm but for the metal industry in the province, Comahig has organized the Bohol Association of Metal Industries (BAMI). BAMI aims to uplift the quality of metal works of its members, as well as promote the sustainability of the metal industry in the province.

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