Sercomm pays tribute to Filipino resilience

Yang: When transportation stopped in the first two months of the pandemic, our Filipino workers walked one hour each way from home to work and vice versa while across the globe industries shut down.

PHOTOGRAPHs COURTESY OF SERCOMM SERCOMM Philippines’ Carmelray plant never stopped production even during the height of the pandemic.

With the Covid pandemic raging in March 2020, Sercomm Philippines CEO James Yang had sleepless nights deciding whether or not to pack his bags for Taiwan and let go of his Filipino employees.

Yang had chosen to stay and the indomitable Filipino spirit and resilience proved in just one year that the decision he made to stay was the correct one.

“We didn’t stop at all,” Yang said last 18 May during the opening of Sercomm Philippines’ latest manufacturing facility at the Calamba Ecozone, the new home to its about 2,000 employees.

“When transportation stopped in the first two months of the pandemic, our Filipino partners walked one hour each way from home to work (and vice versa) while across the globe industries shut down,” he recalled.

A year later, in March 2021, Sercomm Philippines would post the milestone of producing 10 million units of telecom devices such as 5G and fiber products for the North American and Southeast Asian markets.

That output would match the year-round production of Sercomm’s biggest plant in Zhunan, Taiwan which employs over 2,000 people, according to industry data.

Thus, the voluble Yang had every reason this week to gush about the bright future he sees for Sercomm Philippines during a post-inauguration lunch with Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual.

Yang said Sercomm Philippines thrived when other industries collapsed and Sercomm’s operations in other countries had monkey wrenches thrown into them.

A Cabinet meeting had Pascual missing the opening of the new plant, but he still motored to Laguna for the plant tour and to assure Yang of full Philippine government support for their expansion.

Also present during the plant’s opening was Philippine Economic Zone Authority Director General Tereso Panga who, during a Daily Tribune Straight Talk interview, said PEZA is putting a premium on hosting innovators and gamechangers.

Like Pascual, Panga thanked Sercomm executives for their faith in the Philippines and Filipinos.

A holder of a master’s degree in electrical engineering, Yang also credited his Taiwanese team who went into war mode, “going in while other foreigners were leaving.”

With the new Laguna plant, Yang projected the company, with its P2.5-billion investment, will create 5,000 new jobs.

He said Sercomm has also partnered with five Philippine universities  to establish a research and development center in Alabang, Muntinlupa to bring R&D closer to its manufacturing side.

TRADE Secretary Alfredo Pascual (left) and Sercomm Philippines CEO James Yang see good prospects for the country and the company in the post-pandemic world.

“Our decision to manufacture in the Philippines was not influenced by geopolitics. We chose the Philippines because it offers a number of advantages, including a large and skilled workforce, a competitive cost structure, and a strategic location,” Yang said.

Pascual said that since 2019, the “pioneering $20-million Sercomm facility in Carmelray (P1,023,400,000 in the prevailing exchange rate at the time of P51.17 per $1) has become the third largest site of Sercomm.”

“We look forward to your further growth — to reach a manufacturing output share of 40 percent and  more, with Phase 1 and Phase 2 expansions. This new facility will bring Sercomm Philippines at par with production in China,” the DTI chief said. “This means more growth for your company and our economy.”

In his speech read by his chief of staff Carol Pascual-Sanchez, Pascual said one of DTI’s strategies toward industrialization is to embrace Industry 4.0 powered by artificial intelligence research.

“We are thankful to Sercomm for moving your R&D to the Philippines when conflict erupted between Russia and Ukraine,” Pascual pointed out.

“The estimated $1-million R&D Center here provides additional local employment and generates income from rentals as well as spending for goods and services in the country,” Pascual added.

Sercomm’s expansion comes as a 2023 report of Access Partnerships said technology companies in the Philippines are expected to contribute 27 percent of the country’s gross domestic product by 2030.

Further, it said the digital economy in the Philippines is expected to grow at an annual rate of 20 percent from 2023 to 2030 — driven by the increasing adoption of mobile Internet, cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence, and other technologies.

The report concluded by stating that the Philippines is well-positioned to benefit from the growth of the digital economy with its young and skilled workforce, a strong government commitment to digital transformation and a favorable business environment.

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