Tesoro’s: How a printer gained the edge in a competitive industry

by Kenshin Yuri

Most Dabawenyos know Tesoro’s. It’s one of the leading printing companies in Davao City. But what many people don’t know is that the family pioneered quality printing as long ago as 1965.
The success story of the Tesoro family began 45 years ago courtesy of the late Roman O. Tesoro who worked as provincial treasurer of the undivided Davao province in before World War II. After the war, he didn’t return to government service but instead joined the late Guillermo Torres (who established the University of Mindanao) and invested in a printing business—The Mindanao Times—the first local printing press that used letter press machines.
However, with the onset of image setting, Tesoro saw a better tool to upgrade printing business services. After retiring as general manager of Mindanao Times, with his hard-earned savings he established the R.O Tesoro and Sons Printing Press together with son Roman C. Tesoro Jr. He had only eight employees then and some basic machines.
In the next 14 years, R.O Tesoro and Sons provided quality brand printing services, not only to Dabawenyos, but to neighboring provinces as well.
On March 16, 1979, the older Tesoro died at the age of 78.
The business that now uses a new name Tesoro’s Printing Press is in the hands of the second and third generations of the Tesoros led by Linda C. Tesoro as general manager, together with her two siblings and niece, Mary Ann Tesoro as treasurer.
The business remains a family corporation.
The new manager admits that running the business has not been all smooth sailing. According to her, they also experienced squabbling in the family.
“Naghiwa-hiwalay kami (we broke up). It took us five years to recover and get back our strength. (But) we’re able to survive kahit pa may ibang nagsasabi na wala na kami,” Tesoro said.
Equipped with the memory of their father’s guiding hands to preserve the business and generate more employment, Tesoro’s was able to get back in the mainstream despite its competitors; it has retained its number one spot in the printing press industry in Davao.
“You can check that if you look at the business permit,” Tesoro said.
The bulk of their clients was corporate. Davao Light and Power Company (DLPC) and Davao City Water District (DCWD) are also among its big loyal clients.
What prods the company to continue pursuing the right direction? Management follows the values left by the elder Tesoro.
“My father always made it a point na hindi pabayaan ang negosyo. Dapat maitaguyod ang kumpanya and give employment,” Tesoro said.
She added that to maintain its leading edge, they had to adapt to today’s latest trends in printing.
“Ang mahirap sa computer generation, before ang calling card and wedding invitation ay sa printing press pa, ngayon sa computers na. To be able to compete and survive, kailangan baguhin ang trend ng business and offer services na ikaw lang ang gumagawa para di na pumunta sa iba ang kliyente,” she said.
She added that charging reasonable prices is also a come-on.
“The problem dati pag sinabi Tesoro, mahal. Pero kung makita naman ang output ng product eh mahal pa ba yan kung maganda ang labas?” she said.
The company also offers services like “we print while you wait”.
She believes that an established business is an advantage, especially in the procurement of equipment.
“Kung bago pa ang printing press mo hindi ka kilala unlike kung established ka na you don’t have difficulties in the procurement of equipment. And you have to have a name to meet the demands of your clients. Kung wala kang maipakita na produkto, clients will still doubt you,” she said.
She also agreed that to meet today’s challenges in the printing business, one has to invest more.
Tesoro’s Printing Press houses state-of-the-art technology. It has also upgraded its computer department like acquiring G4 and G5 computers, acquired other image setter equipments, upgraded the continuous-form equipment with AUTOPRINT PTP7000 for book binding, manuals, and souvenir programs.
The company has also invested more on Apple Macintosh. Presently, 36 Mac units are being utilized by the company.
“Kasi pag personal computer masyadong mabagal at lagi pang tinatamaan ng virus,” she said.
Tesoro said the company’s areas of growth focus on the maintenance of the quality of their outputs and efficiency of their service.
She also sees opportunities from challenges, like getting rid of single colors and acquiring new machineries.
“Right now everybody is dependent on plastic which will be replaced by paper bags soon. We are looking at opportunities into paper bags,” Tesoro said.
The company is also offering education and training to schools’ yearbook editorial staffs in lay-outing and yearbook printing. The number of schools has now grown from more than one hundred all over the Visayas and Mindanao to more or less 1,000 clients.
A booking office in Cebu City was also set up serving as the company’s customer service and sales extension office.
From eight employees then, the company now employs 150 people who were trained by DOLE on its ISTIV (industrious, systematic, time-conscious, innovative, strong-value for work) program.
For Davao operations, the company has nine functional departments, namely, customer service, sales, accounting, camera and plate making, stripping, computer, binding, offset, plant facilities and equipment department.
By year 2015, Tesoro’s Printing Press will be celebrating its 50th anniversary. The Tesoros, together with their professional and competent working staff, are preparing for another year of quality brand printing service.

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