Bizman: Davao's rich opportunities propel Phoenix growth

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

PROMINENT businessman Dennis A. Uy of Davao City-based Phoenix Petroleum Philippines Inc. gave honor to the city as the vehicle for his success when he received the prestigious Datu Bago Award for 2013.

"While many prefer to do business or find employment in bigger cities, to me Davao is richer in opportunity and richer in producing the elements of success than any place I know," he said in his acceptance speech during the Datu Bago awarding ceremonies at the Royal Mandaya Hotel on Friday.

The Datu Bago award is the highest recognition the Davao City Government bestows on its citizens. This year's awardees also included Davao Cancer Society founding president Dr. Helen Te-Santos.


Uy is the founder, president, and CEO of homegrown oil company Phoenix Petroleum Philippines Inc., which has grown to be the number one independent oil company in the Philippines in just seven years.

Phoenix has climbed from being the top 570th corporation in 2006 to being the top 53rd company in the country in 2011. It has also been recognized by the Bureau of Customs as the Top 7 Importer in the country for 2011 and 2012, and the Top 1 Importer in the port of Davao in the past two years.

"I don't know if we would have accomplished what we have accomplished if I grew up somewhere else, but I do know that Davao and Dabawenyos have been an indispensable part of everything that we have achieved," Uy said.

Even as Phoenix has grown to be a national brand, its headquarters remain firmly in Davao City.

"Our city is simply a better place to live, work, and prosper," Uy said. "We have enlightened, disciplined and competent leadership, talented people, growing infrastructure, and an ideal balance between work and life."

"Indeed, before President Aquino advocated for ‘daang matuwid,’ it has already been ‘daang matuwid’ here in Davao for the longest time," he said.

Uy recalled that he started what became Phoenix Petroleum in challenging circumstances. Back then, the business was a single storage tank, 11 employees, and no revenue stream. Still, he gave it a try.

"I remained confident that I was surrounded by a community, a government, and an ideal that would be indispensable to our success," he said.

Uy recalled that after the Oil Deregulation Law was passed in 1998, he saw independent oil companies that were not of the major sprout in Manila.

He said he sensed a good business opportunity to bring to Davao, although he admitted it was not an easy start.

Uy said he had then difficulty raising capital and attracting clients.

His big break came when Cebu Pacific committed to lease his tanks. This was the start of Phoenix becoming their exclusive logistics provider in all their Mindanao flights.

Uy said he decided to expand to retail, and in 2005, the first five Phoenix stations opened in southern Mindanao.

To expand the company's financial capability, Phoenix Petroleum listed at the Philippine Stock Exchanged in July 2007, becoming the first, and, so far, only oil company to launch its initial public offering after the Oil Deregulation Law was passed. Phoenix is also one of the few Mindanao companies to be traded at the PSE.

The very successful IPO gave Phoenix the capital it needed to expand, and since then the company has grown significantly.

Compound annual growth rates of revenue have risen by 65 percent, volume by 67 percent, market capitalization by 84 percent, and equity by 50 percent. Cumulative returns of the PNX stock in the five years from its IPO has been over 400 percent.

From its initial five stations, Phoenix has expanded to 300 nationwide by the end of 2012, making it the number one independent oil company.

For his leadership, Uy has received citations in the country and in the Asian region: as finalist in the Asia Business Leaders Award by CNBC Asia for 2011 and 2012; finalist in the Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 Philippines; and now the Datu Bago Award in Davao City. He is also the Honorary Consul of Kazakhstan to the Philippines, having been appointed in 2011.

Uy attributed the speed of Phoenix's growth to "an entrepreneurial-based opportunity to build the future of the downstream petroleum industry, a nurturing and encouraging beginning in our hometown environment, and a commitment to and indispensable relationship with our community, our business partners, our shareholders, and above all, our customers."

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 18, 2013.


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