Seventeen years ago, James Bernardo was earning his keep making processing equipment for the food and beverage industries.
A Civil Engineer by profession, James wanted to see how he could penetrate these industries by offering them products for cleaning and sanitation that seemingly were in large demand by these large-scale manufacturers.
Together with Glennys Arizo, Gilbert Pacariem, and Robert Cassala whom James met at one of the companies he was servicing, the four colleagues formed a company, called Kalinisan Chemicals Corporation, and housed their fledgling business in Cainta.
Today, Kalinisan Chemicals is one of the leading local providers of quality industrial cleaning and sanitation products.
Ever an optimist, James singles out innovation as that quality that drives Kalinisan’s business forward.
This spirit of innovation was recognized by none other than by Jollibee Foods Corporation, one of Kalinisan’s biggest Clients, when they were chosen of only one of two suppliers of the Global Filipino food giant for service innovation in early 2019.
In Focus: James Bernardo, Founding Chairman, Kalinisan Chemicals Corporation
“We started the business to try and penetrate the food and beverage industries, which was familiar territory for us.
The four of us: Glenys Ariza, our Chemical Engineer who is now our company President; Gilbert Pacariem, our R&D Head; Robert Cassola, our Technical Director, and I formed the nucleus of Kalinisan.
We started by blending our own industrial cleaning agents in a small office in Cainta.
As the business grew, we started adding more workers and expanded our offices to accommodate our growing manufacturing lines.
Today, most of our clients are still in the food and beverage industries, where we have specialized our product applications.
We also expanded to other key industries such as hospitals, schools, and hotels.
We have outgrown our Cainta Office and Plant and have had to move our Manufacturing facilities to an industrial park in Cavite, in a new plant that has a 6,000 sqm. footprint.
DEALING WITH BUSINESS CHALLENGES
“Our industry is not without its share of challenges.
In the early years, it meant us formulating good products to compete against well-established competitors with a multi-national presence.
So, we really concentrated on creating good products and ensuring they had high-quality standards.
We invested heavily in research and development to ensure we were compliant with all regulatory approvals and permits.
In our line of business, since we are involved in the food and beverage industries, this meant getting approvals from the FDA, PDEA, and other regulators for the safety and efficacy of our products.
We also needed to ensure our manufacturing processes were at par with those of our competition.
In this regard, we are an ISO 2001-certified manufacturer since 2010 and have even acquired HALAL certification for our manufacturing process for our products being exported to other Southeast Asian countries.
During the early stages of the pandemic, we faced a severe shortage of supplies in manufacturing our products, since the base material for our products was ethyl alcohol.
But we have learned to adjust to the challenges that our business has been through all these years.
And I like to think, we thrive on adversity.
There is always a solution to a problem.
You just need to keep going and never give up.
Case in point: may mas ga-grabe pa ba sa problemang dulot ng baha, such as what happened to us in Cainta… when our entire plant was underwater, all our stock and finished goods inventory water-damaged. But we survived!
We see problems as being part of the business, so we look for solutions and always find one,” James confides.
KALINISAN AND PHINMA SOLAR
Asked by the interviewers how it came about that Kalinisan and Phinma Solar started working together, James recounts the story…
“Our manufacturing operation consumes a rather large amount of electricity costs because we have a lot of motorized blending and filling lines.
When demand for our products is up during peak months, we have to run the plant in two shifts.
As an engineer, I had always been interested in finding energy solutions for our company, that are sustainable, and clean, like our name, suggests,” James narrates.
“Actually, it was Mr. Archie Monasterial and Ms. Vanessa Cambosa of PHINMA Solar Energy Corporation who approached us, offering a novel business proposal on how we could work together to provide a solar solution for our Cainta Plant.
I said, WOW, hulog ng langit ito!
I think what you are doing for the country is good.
Your vision is aligned with environmentalists and people looking for ways to slow down the degradation of mother earth.
And kasama ninyo kami diyan!
Parang partner na namin ang PHINMA Solar, tinulungan na kami maka-convert to solar energy, at nakakatulong pa kaming maging responsible stewards of the environment.
Looking at solar energy to bring down our energy costs was something I had already been thinking of even before we met with PHINMA Solar.
So, when Archie and Vanessa called, the timing was perfect for us.
I have to say we are so happy with the relationship we have with Phinma Solar.
Sa totoo lang, kami nga ang nahihiya.
They really treat us like valued clients, and they make us feel important.
To me, this is a good signal that we have struck a partnership that will last.
And because they have partnered with us through this novel way, we are a proof of concept, which we can show to our friends and clients, that PHINMA Solar can also help their businesses!” James declares.
THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT
“Since we have expanded our manufacturing and warehouse capacity, we are on an expansion mode.
Our new manufacturing complex in Carmona, Cavite is triple the area of our Cainta plant.
One can expect that our energy consumption will also increase accordingly, certainly significantly.
We are presently preparing the plans for our new warehouse, and we want to install solar panels on it as well.
Once the plans are done, we will sit down with the team of Archie and Vanessa to design the Solar Energy requirements.
We have just moved into our Carmona plant six months ago, so give it another six months for us to track our energy consumption so we can customize the solar energy configuration we need to put in the plant.
We are also looking to expand our manufacturing facilities in Cebu, Davao, and Cagayan de Oro.
Our Cainta offices will continue to house our main offices and Satellite Warehouse.
We are also looking to put up a 10-story building in the Cainta plant,” James adds.
THE UNION ADVANTAGE
Asked if he was familiar with the UNION ADVANTAGE, James replied that he was not.
The concept was explained to him as a program of the PHINMA CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT GROUP (CMG) to provide its valued Clients such as KALINISAN CHEMICAL CORPORATION with quality construction solutions through its UNION brand of Cement, Galvanized Steel Products and Solar Energy Systems.
James replied excitedly that he was looking forward to hearing from the PHINMA CMG team on how these products can help his company address their construction needs more efficiently and more proactively.
Asked for some words of advice on how to survive the present difficulties, made more difficult by the worsening COVID crisis and the toll it has taken on the economy, James has this to say:
“It will come to pass. History repeats itself. Makakaraos din tayo.
What is important is that we do not give up, or lose hope.”
On being a responsible steward of the environment, James has this to say:
“We are all aware of what is happening to the environment with carbon emissions and global warming.
As business people, we owe it to our consumers, that one way or another, we can give back something to society.
We try to do this by innovating our products, to be more safe, organic, environmentally friendlier.
We also use renewable energy solutions to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels.
If we can keep doing this and convince others businesses to do likewise, only then can we raise public awareness, and maybe make a difference.
Then at least we did something good for mother earth, and future generations of Filipinos,” James ends.