There are people you admire and get inspiration from but you look at them only from a distance or through the pages of reading materials.
I am privileged to have personally met one.
It was an honor to have had actual interaction with a self-made business magnate, a visionary and a great philanthropist, all these, rolled into one person we know as Mr. George SK Ty.
Though my personal contacts with him were limited and far between, I know him as a kind and grounded person.
When I was the president of Lexus Manila, he would make quick visits to the Lexus facility on Saturdays wearing jeans, sports shirt and sometimes sporting a baseball cap.
Rarely do you see Group Chair of a huge business conglomerate in a casual attire such as this. I always pictured him wearing either a business suit or a barong.
I found him as a warm-hearted person. During our short talks on his weekend visits, he would always touch and hold my hand as a gentle way of expressing his support.
When we opened the Lexus facility at the Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in 2009, people were skeptical that it would draw a crowd considering there were no other business establishments nor other structures in the area.
Chairman GT kept assuring me that the property where Lexus Manila stands will be the most prime location in BGC. Many times, during the early stages of the Lexus operations, he told me that we should think about vertically expanding the facility because that piece of space will become very precious. That was his vision almost 10 years ago. He was very forward-thinking. Visit the area now to see how Chairman GT’s vision has become a reality.
I attribute the successful introduction of the Lexus brand to the local market to him.
On many occasions during TMP Board of Directors meetings where I was tasked to provide updates on the Lexus business, Chairman GT always reminded the Board to allocate more budget to Lexus. He would jokingly tell then TMP President Mitch Sugata to reduce his profit and spend more for Lexus. This flattered me no end.
Despite being a very busy man, it is admirable how Chairman GT was able to raise his children with the right attitude, bearing and character.
I have met all of them but I can talk more profoundly about Alfred Ty, who was my direct boss at Lexus Manila. Alfred is a level-headed, humble, caring and compassionate person. These are attributes he surely inherited from his dad, Chairman GT. I have no doubt that the business will be in good and safe hands with Alfred.
I am sad about the passing of Chairman GT and sadder still that I could not even pay my last respects to him. His life was well-lived and his memories will remain through many generations.