Forging a new direction for Damosa Land

Third generation scion Cary Floirendo Lagdameo has assumed a key role in pushing the family corporation forward through Damosa Land of which he has been president for the last two years.

Third-generation scion, the U.S.-educated Ricardo “Cary” Floirendo Lagdameo, is the current president of Davao-based DAMOSA Land, which bears the same name of the company – Davao Motor Sales or DAMOSA that his maternal grandfather, Don Antonio O. Floirendo, Sr. put up when the latter established his first business in Davao City in 1948 – an exclusive Ford motor vehicles dealership. DAMOSA has since transitioned from motor vehicles to property development. Other than residential projects, DAMOSA Land is also involved in townships like the 88-hectare Agriya in Panabo outside Davao City. Agriya includes an agri-tourism park open to the public and soon an agricultural vocational school to be built in conjunction with the University of the Philippines, Los Baños. | Photo courtesy of Damosa Land collection

While growing up both in the United States and Manila, Ricardo F. Lagdameo, Cary to his family and friends, saw a lot of Mindanao during Christmas and summer breaks.

This exposure to Mindanao in his youth — constant, if periodic — and focused mostly on Davao City and Davao del Norte, allowed him more than a glimpse of the wonders of this second largest group of islands in the Philippines.

“I was very young then, but I would hear my elders talk about Mindanao as a land of promise. While I was there for vacation, I somehow understood that so much yet needed to be developed, the people were industrious and, in my young mind, I just knew that in the vast lands, deep blue seas, mountains and thick forests, rich natural resources abounded,” Cary shared in an interview with the Daily Tribune in his family’s well-appointed home in San Lorenzo Village.

On his maternal side, Cary directly descends from the man who, with his keen foresight, put his stakes on Davao’s rich fertile ground. In 1948, Antonio Floirendo Sr., an accountant of Ilocano roots who initially practiced his profession in Manila, moved his young family to Davao where he established the Davao Motor Sales (Damosa) Corporation, a Ford car dealership.

It was a lucrative endeavor that led to young Antonio’s venturing into other business opportunities.

He first cultivated abaca in a vast land, but when the demand for the product dwindled in the international market, he shifted to the production of cavendish banana.

This pioneering enterprise became known as the Tagum Development Company. Being the first and largest Philippine exporter of this cash crop, Don Antonio, as he was called by the people, was dubbed by many, including media, as the “Banana King.”

In time, Don Antonio expanded into food manufacturing, resorts operation, broadcasting, packaging and trucking services, among others, all these under the umbrella company, ANFLO Group of Companies.

Fast forward to the second decade of the 21st century, Cary, a Master in Business Administration graduate of Columbia University, joined the company in Mindanao.

Today, he is the president of Damosa Land, a name that took off from the original Ford dealership but which has since shifted to property development.

Cary, smartly dressed, articulate and suave in manners, summed up the trajectory of his career, “I worked my way up. I started as an Assistant Vice President, then became Vice President. And eventually President.” Earlier, he had worked for a bank and then, became a restaurateur, both sharpening his management and public relations skills.

Of the family’s third-generation scions, it is Cary who has assumed a key role in pushing the corporation forward through Damosa Land of which he has been president for the last two years.

In our conversation, Cary shared his triumphs and challenges as the company’s top honcho even as he explained the social development thrust of the family corporation.

He also related how he has been influenced by the work ethic of his grandfather, Don Antonio, especially his concern for the workers, many of whom belong to families whose members have been with ANFLO through three or even four generations.

Cary thus looks at his responsibility as more than strengthening the financial resources and the productivity of the company; his work in Damosa is likewise focused in ensuring that the work force grows with the company and, as a matter of corporate responsibility and goodwill, helping address the needs and challenges of the communities where the ANFLO group operates.

Excerpts from our interview:

Daily Tribune (DT): Damosa Land has grown tremendously under your watch. Did you always focus on real estate?

Ricardo Floirendo Lagdameo (RFL): Yes. When I entered the family business, it was directly with Damosa Land. And after that I also got into the construction arm of the ANFLO group. What I now lead is essentially the real estate and construction group, which includes Damosa Land and another company called ANFLO Construction Corp.

DT: How do you manage your time between Manila for your family and work that entails being here, and Davao where your company is located?

RFL: Well, the one good thing is that since I’ve been with the company and working in Mindanao now for a little over 9 years, I have been able to adjust my schedule. From the beginning, I really felt that I had to be there. Being new, I had to improve myself and to really understand the business to kind of lay my own roots in Davao, so to speak. So, I was spending most of my time there. I had this really horrible schedule where I had to leave early Monday morning for Davao, come back Friday night, and then repeat that cycle. I was doing that for a couple of years.

DT: You take PAL?

RFL: I take PAL. To the point that I know exactly what the stewardess had to say and what their spiel is. Alam ko na yang lahat. Eventually, I was able to adjust my schedule. So that there are times where I’m in Manila for a whole week, maybe even more. Still working, but not on the ground.

DT: But at least, you know, with all the technology, you can really manage from here.

RFL: Yes. That and more importantly, I think we’ve built a very good team. So, the people there, especially the ones that are directly under me or reporting to me, know what to do when I have to be away. I just check in with them and we have online meetings. So, that’s something that we’ve been able to do with the business that we’ve grown it to this level where I don’t have to be on top of every single thing any more. But in the very beginning I was involved in every single detail. Like a real entrepreneur.

DT: What are your current projects?

RFL: We at Damosa Land pride ourselves in being very diverse. So, we have residential projects that are on-going. We even have large scale townships.

DT: Really? Like how large? Tell us about the township.

RFL: Agriya, a current project, is about 88 hectares. It’s right after Davao City, in Panabo City, Davao del Norte.

DT: What do you intend to put up there? What is your vision for that big chunk of land?

RFL: It’s a township that is predicated on agriculture. So, it’s a bit of a novel concept. And when we say it’s predicated on agriculture, all the components have something to do with agriculture. So, we have an agri-tourism park that’s open to the public. It is roughly less than five hectares. We’re putting an agricultural professional school in conjunction with the University of the Philippines Los Baños. We signed a MoA with them years back but we’re breaking ground this month. And hopefully, maybe in a year and a half, it will be up already.

DT: Which means, one can already enroll?

RFL: That’s the target. But what we did was even prior to the campus being established, UP Los Baños had already started the program. So, it’s being done in Davao City. We also gave them space to hold classes and they’ve graduated several batches already. So, the intention is when the campus is up and running, everything will be transferred there.

DT: You can take another course, if you want to.

RFL: Well, that’s something I intend to do later on. Maybe some short courses, or professional courses. I’m not an agriculturist. I’m not an expert in something that our family has been engaged in. So, that would be something good for me, to learn a bit more about it.

DT: Let’s shift gears. What are your fond memories of Davao? Of course, when you were growing up, you frequented the place. What comes to mind?

RFL: As you know, I was born in Manila and I was raised in Manila. So, going to Davao was mostly for vacations and special occasions. So, for me my Davao stay was always fun times. We would host or attend parties; our friends would come to visit Pearl Farm. Since I wasn’t working yet, what I had were mostly happy times, good times, and a lot of partying.

(To be continued)

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