Who Is Nelia WongChuking in and out of the Cigarette Industry?
If you are a consumer of low-priced cigarettes, Nelia Wongchuking or WongChuKing family should be a familiar name to you. She is the President and Chairman of the Board of Mighty Corporation, a producer of one-peso-per stick cigarette brands. Nelia also chairs the board of trustees of Wong Chu King Foundation Inc.
Aside from attending the business needs of Mighty Corp, Nelia WongChuking actively participates in various social and community programs by non-government organizations and religious groups in promoting Filipino values. In fact, Nelia was behind the construction of Our Lady of Piat in Malolos, Bulacan. According to Archbishop Emeritus Diosdado Talamayan of the Archdiocese of Cagayan, Nelia and the WongChuKing family are great devotees of Our Lady of Piat.
Wongchuking's 68 years in Cigarette Business
Mighty exec and spokeperson Oscar Barrientos mentioned that MC had a very humble beginning. But over the years, it has developed a 9-acre industrial complex in Bulacan, the home of the Filipino-owned and fully integrated cigarette-manufacturing company. Mighty Corp has all the facilities, well-trained factory & admin workers (over 3,000 employees). The manufacturing site has Virginia tobacco threshing and redrying equipment, tobacco processing plant (including fermentation for cigar-blended cigarillos) and two cigarette factories. Over 50,000 individuals depend on the distribution of its various cigarette brands for their livelihood.
Though Mighty Corp has focused in producing low-priced cigarette brands (with low profit margin), the firm is still able to sustain its business due to is strategic marketing approach. It was also able to remit the required excise tax in 2013 amounting to Php8 billion.
The Mighty Community Programs of WongChuking
Back in 2009, WongChuking Foundation donated thousands of Lucky Me noodles, biscuits, purified drinking water, medicine, and many more to the victims of typhoon 'Pepeng'. Last year, WongChuking Foundation awarded scholarship grants to some ten deserving students.
Early this year, Mighty Corp announced its full support on the use of Tobacco Dust Plus to replace highly toxic chemicals used in the preparation or sterilization of fishponds. According to MC spokeperson Oscar Barrientos, Mighty Corp will purchase more tobacco leaves from the Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley, and other parts of the country. The planned local sourcing of raw materials will add an instant Php700,000 to Filipino farmers.
Mighty Business Approach
Mighty Corp. decided not to make a direct competition with the country’s biggest tobacco company, the Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC). MC believes that the local market is big enough to accommodate all foreign and local cigarette brands. Oscar P. Barrientos was cited saying;
“We’re a small company. We’ve been that way since 1945. We’re very Filipino. We produced La Campanilla, Magkaibigan, La Campana, Quiapo, Ringing Bell and other local brands—all totally and truly Filipino. Our advantage is precisely that—we have no foreign brands and, therefore, [have] no royalty to remit to a foreign master [and] no expensive foreign consultants to retain. We keep our costs low and we are content with low profits. We have always faithfully paid our taxes to the government. Thus, we have had undisputed dominance of the low-end market for several decades now, because we know our place in the industry.”
Despite the positive statements of Mighty Corp, PMFTC hired the research firm, AC Nielsen, to do a market study of Mighty Corp.’s marketing operations. Barrientons said the move of PMFTC is a clear indicator that it would like to wipe out local brands to establish a monopoly in the cigarette industry.
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