Matthew Sarino is the president of PRISGENE International Incorporated. Established in 2010, PRISGENE International Incorporated counts PRISGENE Facility Services Professional Incorporated as its predecessor. PRISGENE International Incorporated, in partnership with MPR Indonesia, currently offers asset, support and auxilliary services, making it a complete management institution. In an exclusive interview, Mr. Sarino reveals the hard work involved in running one's own company.
1. Why did you decide to start your own company ?
It really wasn’t part of my “life plan” to have my own business. I was deciding if I wanted to be a lawyer or a writer so I went for a Bachelor’s Degree that would help me achieve that goal, AB Literature at De La Salle University.
Unfortunately, while I was in college, both my parents passed away and left behind the family business which they started in 1960. With my five elder siblings being well into their own careers, they decided that the business be given to me to operate. The family business was the FIRST EVER franchise from the U.S. in the Philippines and at that time had been in operation for a little over 40 years which had sent me and my five siblings to elementary and high school at the prestigious International School of Manila. So, it was a matter of keeping the legacy of my parents alive which was more important to me rather than taking it to the next level. Thus, a few years after taking over the helm of Duraclean, I set up a new company with the brand PRISGENE®, in keeping with my desire to sustain the legacy of my parents, Priscila and Generoso (Jr.) Sarino.
My parents’ company, Duraclean, a specialized cleaning company, had quite a number of prestigious clients, such as the United States Embassy, the Ambassador’s residence, the first generation of the Ayalas, Sorianos, Locsins, and their various companies. In the early ‘70s when Architect Leandro Locsin was commissioned by then First Lady Imelda Marcos to design and build the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), he agreed, only on the condition that Duraclean would be contracted to maintain the massive amounts of carpeting and upholstered furniture.
When I took over the business, I had my fair share of notable clients as well such as Philippine Airlines, Philippine National Bank, and San Miguel Corporation.
2. How long has your company been in existence?
The first company under the PRISGENE® banner was established in 1995, under the corporate name PRISGENE Commercial Maintenance Group.
3. What is the hardest part in starting your own company ?
I think the hardest part in starting my own company was the fact that we were an unknown group, a “new kid on the block” so to speak. It was, and still is, a matter of letting our clients and prospective clients know the history behind the company.
4. What is the best thing about managing your own company ?
I feel the best thing about managing my own company is not really that I am my own boss, which is not really the case, but rather the excitement of being able to set goals and targets for the entire company that I can clearly see and visualize. I can therefore anticipate and plan out what I and the rest of my team need to do to make these visions a reality. This is unlike being employed, where one is relegated to supporting the visions and goals of company heads. Your duties and responsibilities are already been mapped out for you. I would compare it to being in a car. As the head of my own company, I am the driver, in full control. As an employee, at best, I would be “riding shotgun” where I can see the goals and targets as clearly as the driver, but do not necessarily have full control of the vehicle.
5. From a financial point of view, is it better to start your own company than work for a multinational company ?
My answer to this question is both yes and no. Yes, because the potential financial gains being a shareholder of a company allow you to take a portion of the profits that the company makes, which of course is additional income over and above the regular salary. For most startup businesses, salaries of the owners are usually kept low to minimize operational expense, and then compensated through their share in the profits of the company. In short, the POTENTIAL to earn is greater with a self-owned company. But of course, let’s not forget the additional risks involved in it as well.
The second part of my answer is no, because it takes away the “guaranteed” regular income as an employee. Given that you have used being employed by a multinational company as a point of comparison, the regular income that one will sacrifice in setting up his own business is quite substantial. Over and above that, the only chances of increasing your income is in the hands of another, normally an immediate superior, who recommends that you be “awarded” a pay increase or a bonus of sorts for your hard work. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. It just all depends on what are one’s personal goals and visions. On the up side, being employed minimizes your personal financial risks.
6. I heard that some of your business associates committed acts that forced you to end your business relationship with them. How has the breakup with your business associates affected the way you run the company now?
Honestly, there have been no changes in the way I run the business. Ever since I went into business, I have always ensured that my personal values prevail over any financial consideration. And that has always been something that I have tried to instil in everyone in the company, no exceptions. What are these values? Three simple words: HONESTY, INTEGRITY, and PERSEVERANCE. These values are what became my basis for ending the business relationship with my former associates.
7. What gives you the greatest satisfaction in managing your own company?
I haven’t been given that “greatest satisfaction” yet. Knowing that I am well on my way to getting that “greatest satisfaction” is satisfaction in itself. Now, if your question were “What do you enjoy about managing your own company?”, my answer would be the opportunity to interact with people at all economic levels – from our service workers to admin staff, from contractors to the Board of Directors of our clients.
8. What are you most proud of with PRISGENE International Incorporated?
I have a lot to be proud of with the company. But the two things that come to mind are that 1.) It bears the name of my parents who have provided me with the education and the personal values which have made me, and 2.) It is now a corporation with a fairly large Indonesian company as its major stakeholder. And because of this, we are now able to offer more property and facilities management solutions to our clients and consequently provide faster and better results than the other players in the industry. If you noticed, I have avoided using the word “competitor”. This is simply because PRISGENE International actively seeks opportunities for strategic alignments with the other industry players so that we are able to leverage on each others strengths and still have both groups benefit from the arrangement.
9. What advice can you give those who are planning to put up their own companies ?
I would assume that anyone who would want to put up their own company would already know the specific details such as the business model, target market, and financials. What I can say is that although these are the basics of what the intended business will be, it is not enough to know all these alone. One must have the passion, perseverance, and the confidence to see the business through its early stages, as starting a business is apparently like giving birth to and raising a child. It will be painful (financial and otherwise) in the beginning, but depending on how you nurture it during its growing years, it will later on give you that sense of pride and joy that makes all the initial hardship well worth the effort.