It must be no coincidence that Raul Joseph "Jojo" Concepcion recently turned 50, the same year that Carrier is celebrating its 50th year in the Philippines. He is the Chief Executive Officer of Concepcion-Carrier Air Conditioning (CCAC), a post he has held since 2008. A third generation Concepcion, he led the way to making CCAC the country's most trusted provider of innovative cooling solutions today. Jojo Concepcion holds a degree in Business Administration from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. He joined Concepcion Industries, Inc. in 1987, and has served as President of the Philippine Appliance Industry Association (PAIA) for four years.In this interview, the engaging, articulate CEO shares business insights, work values and a bit of family history with Business Agenda.
Business Agenda: You are described as a hands-on CEO. In what ways do you ensure that you are hands-on?
Jojo Concepcion: I am very into details; I am sometimes more detailed than some of my staff. I meet with my business units every week. There is a lot of communication, (constituting) some 80 percent of my time, bringing groups together, sharing the vision, helping solve problems...
BA: How would you describe the 1st and 2nd generation work ethic in your family? And how is it different from the 3rd gen way of working?
JC: The work ethic all across the board is the same. The inherent attention to detail is similar. The difference is in the outlook, in how we do things. In the past, they were more autocratic. It was 'I'm the boss, you listen to me.' Now, people are smarter, more opinionated, free-thinking-to manage people who are that way, you have to be more participative. The other big change is that what used to happen in a year or even a decade, can now happen in a day. The reaction time in the market is very fast today. During my grandfather's time, they communicated through telexes, which made for very slow decisions. Today, it's instant. It's very dynamic, which requires a very different type of management.
BA: Why did your family go into air conditioning? And why you to take charge of this business?
JC: Because I closed the joint venture. It was like 'If you spoke it and sold it, then you better run it.' My grandfather actually worked for an air conditioning company, Aircon Masters, until he retired at age 60.
BA: As CCAC CEO for five years now, what have been the key learnings and challenges for you running this company?
JC: I have been CEO for five years, in name, but I was acting CEO since the beginning. The challenge in the first phase was how to transform a company that's family-owned and family-oriented into a professional organization. We had to lead by example. Me and my cousin Raffy, we had to lead the change in the organization. It was about having very capable professionals and working with these professionals.
The second phase was about how to grow the company. When we started some 12 years ago, we had P1.3 billion in sales. We are looking at ending 2012 with R5.2 B in sales. It was about getting factory-ready, keeping our share with the many products coming in. To do these, we used the strength of our partners. Carrier is the largest air-con company in the world-we learned from their technology, we benchmarked them. We remained very competitive by adopting their best practices.
The third phase is about building our capabilities. There is a very bullish environment in the Philippines, particularly in the light commercial business and hotels. We are meeting the demand by strengthening our basic capabilities, by investing ahead of the curve-in talent, skills, processes, even if the buildings are still concepts at this stage.
BA: What are the advantages for local business from having joint ventures such as CCAC?
JC: My prediction is that you'll see more joint ventures, more foreign and local companies working together. As this country develops, we'll see strategic partners coming in. The added skills and expertise will take this country to a different level. The only headache today is the needed infrastructure development to support the growth that will happen.
BA: What are your personal favorites among Carrier's energy-efficient and environment-friendly products?
JC: The 23XRV Chiller is the most energy-efficient in the world-it uses 30 to 40 percent lesser power. The Toshiba VRF inverters for light, commercial sites are very efficient. And the Optima has the lowest energy or power consumption, again 30 to 40 percent less-a household can easily save R12,000 a year.
BA: How do you manage your time between CCAC and your family?
JC: The only way is you have to make time. You block off time and just do it. From 10:30 p.m. to midnight is the only time I can exercise. I run outdoors, rain or shine, five times a week. I have two secretaries-my 'bosses'-plus my wife, who manage my time. They're the gatekeepers-they set the schedules, take the notes, manage my life. Without them, my schedules will be overlapping.
BA: What books are you reading right now?
JC: I have a library. I read mostly business books, strategy books. I don't read from end to end; I tend to skim, get the essence of what the authors are talking about.
BA: How do you find the economy now under P-Noy's administration?
JC: In general, it's good, very positive. The biggest achievement is bringing credibility back to the government, the ability to address corruption. A lot of investors and the business sector look at it very positively.
As businessmen, we have to be practical. Whoever the president is, we try to see how to make it work, how do we improve, because in the end, it's the country that will suffer. Our family has always remained apolitical. We're more concerned with how to take the nation from here to there, which is why we try to help every government in place.