On this day, January 5 in the year 1953, one of the pioneers in the Asian fast food chain industry was born in Manila, Philippines. His name is Tony Tan Caktiong, the founder of Jollibee Foods Corporation, a fast-rising chain of restaurants with global ambitions to compete with the world’s best.
Caktiong was the son of a chef in a Buddhist monastery. He studied chemical engineering at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila and took an executive course at the Asian Institute of Management. In 1975, he opened an ice cream parlor in a busy suburb of Manila, calling it Magnolia. Later, it included hamburgers, French fries, and fried chicken in its menu. While seeking for an appropriate name for his business, he stumbled upon ‘Jollibee’, a portmanteau of the words jolly (happy) and bee which connotes being hard working or busy.
In 1978, Caktiong incorporated Jollibee. The following year, menus were expanded and its first franchise was opened in the Chinatown district of Manila. In the next decade as it opened one branch after another, its red and white mascot became a familiar site in every busy street of all cities and major towns all over the Philippines.
Jollibee entered the Philippines’ top 500 corporation in 1985. Three years later, it was already in the top 100 and its international branch was opened in Brunei. In 1993, it was listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange. Subsequently, it acquired other food brands: Greenwich Pizza (1994), oriental food restaurant Chowking (2000), and Red Ribbon Bakeshop (2005). It also expanded its worldwide presence by opening branches in the United States, China, Bahrain, Singapore and Canada. In 2016, it gained full control of fast growing chicken grill food chain Mang Inasal. That year also marked the entry of Tony Tan in property development with a minority stake in DoubleDragon Properties Corporation, a company founded by Edgar Sia who also happened to be the founder of Mang Inasal.
Through the years, it has bought or acquired stakes in foreign brands such as Yonghe Dawang, Hong Zhuang Yuan, and San Pin Wang beef noodle, all in China, Smashburger and Tortas Frontera of Rick Bayless, both in the United States. In 2019, Jollibee Foods Corporation had more than 4,000 branches worldwide for all brands including Los Angeles-based Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf which was bought that year.
Tony Tan Caktiong is married and has three children. According to forbes.com, he has a net worth of $1.9 billion as of May 7, 2020. Meanwhile, Jollibee had revenues north of $3.1 billion in 2019 and a market capitalization of over $4 billion. Among the prestigious awards he received were “Global Filipino Executive of the Year” by Asia CEO Awards (2015), “Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award” (2004), “Management Man of the Year Award” by the Management Association of the Philippines (2002) and “Agora Award for Outstanding Marketing Achievement” from the Philippine Marketing Association (1986).
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See also: List of Famous Filipino Entrepreneurs