Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Ricardo Z. Cuna: Banker, entrepreneur

Creating Fiorgelato and Fiorcafe in one

Knowing people like Ricardo "Richie" Cuna is one of the most inspiring and enriching experience our company treasures. It is in this light that we would like to feature him and his products.

Recently, while visiting the tradeshows at SM Mega Mall, we saw Fior Café and Fiorgelato at 5th level Building B which was previously at the basement of Building A. Now, Cuna’s business has expanded, it’s not only for ice-cream lover but for coffee aficionados too!

Let me share with you the article of Kendrick Go, one of our media friends who happened to be Manila Times' writer…



What could a person with a stable and well-paying job be thinking, leaving all that to venture into the unknown? That was the curious thing about Richie Cuna. He turned his back on a promising career as vice president for the Export and Industry Bank to pursue a highly perishable passion, ice cream. 

In 1993, while still working at the bank, Cuna founded the Milkin Corporation and partnered with Maynila Ice Cream to start a business focusing on the concoction that he has loved best since childhood. The following year, he acquired Fiorgelato whose concept came from Milan, Italy. Like any start-up business Fiorgelato suffered from funding problems. To help ease the problem, he invested his income from his job at the bank in Fiorgelato. 

Richie Cuna started his banking career as a clerk in the Bank of the Philippine Islands. Steadily rising from the ranks, he was vice president for product development when he eventually left the bank. But his entry into the banking industry was not part of his original plan. His first job after college was with the Philippine Airlines, until the day he received word from BPI. He jumped at the opportunity to work for a major bank only to be disappointed because he was not a management trainee. But with hard work and dedication, he advanced much faster than those given management training. He earned his promotion to executive level, having spearheaded the project that launched the bank's automated teller machine. 

After a brief hiatus, Cuna joined the Export and Industry Bank, which put him in charge of the bank's expansion, which means the development, selection and design of the bank's branches. 

As his career steadily progressed he began thinking of the future. Realizing that even the most promising of careers only lasts until his retirement, he decided to start his own business on the side while keeping his job. 

For eight years, Richie juggled his time between running Milkin Corp. and his job at the bank. He recalls flying overseas to talk with suppliers and partners and going straight to his office upon arriving home. It taxed him physically and intellectually so that in 2003, with his business expanding tremendously, he left the banking industry. 

To gain better understanding of the business, he enrolled in several cooking schools and eventually became a chef. Cuna's Fiorgelato soon found a niche between commercial ice cream and gourmet ice cream, getting the best traits of both.

To help ensure the quality of his product, Cuna sources 80 percent of its ingredients from Milan and the United States. From Fiorgelato Milkin, the company has expanded to different brands such as Fior Café, Gelateria, and Maynila Ice cream. Its Cocoa Banana Tropical Ice cream has captured the global market with many outlets in the United States. 

In his career as an entrepreneur, Cuna says his experience as a banker has been extremely useful, especially when he has to deal with banks. He has discovered that the corporate structure of banks can actually be adapted to the manufacturing and distribution sector. His training in the banking sector also gave him an insight into economic trends. He remembers seeing the signs of what was to become the 1997 Asian financial crisis months and had prepared for it months before its full impact was felt around the globe.

In his company, Cuna fosters a culture of “pakikisama” and treats his employees as family. Despite the success that he has achieved, Richie remains humble and has kept a low profile. He encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to go into franchising, which has led to a teaching job at St. Scholastica College where he introduced a new course, entrepreneurship and franchising. He also conducts seminars regarding franchising.

Cuna is the man who wants to be known as one who "creates business for people" believes that any business that is founded on transparency, trust and integrity is bound for success.

Developed and copyright by M-Vision Business Solutions

1 comment:

Eleazar said...

I may haven't tasted Fiorgelato ice cream but I think this product only caters to the yuppies and other can afford individuals. Since 80 percent of its ingredients sourced from Milan and the United States, their product cost is way too high for the masses to buy.

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