By Daxim Lucas (Published September 16, 2010)
Picture this: you’re sitting in a posh office overlooking the Ortigas skyline, making a deal over the phone with a top executive across the Atlantic. You forget you are 24 years old. All that’s in your mind is to bag an order for $10,000 worth of company caps (yes, the kind you wear on your head). A few minutes later, you seal it and rush off to go on a Facebook break. You pass another room where your colleagues are glued to the computer, discussing minute adjustments to the company website to highlight the latest discount on the company’s promotional products. Over free refillable coffee and pastries, they talk excitedly over the latest software they’re installing. You smile as you listen to them. You are mostly young, successful and bring home hefty paychecks.
Sounds like a pipe dream? Think again. The scenario painted above is everyday life for the mostly Filipino employees of Branders.com, the world’s largest online seller of low-priced promotional products.
According to Jerry McLaughlin, Branders founding president, there’s outstanding talent found in the Philippines.
When his five-year-old e-commerce company in California opted in 2005 to look outside the United States for admirable talent to achieve greater growth, they flew to the Philippines to check out the place. Since setting foot here five years ago, they never left the country.
“We looked all over the world for that pool of talent and came to the Philippines to research on the field,” McLaughlin says. “Since then, we have been constantly affirmed of our decision to set up the base of our operations here.”
Today, most of its 145 staffers are Filipinos.
Selling promotional products is big business. The Promotional Products Association International reported that promotional products sell $18.1 billion annually. Promotional products include wearable items like t shirts or caps, writing instruments, calendars and mugs which have a company’s name, logo, brand or message printed on it.
More than a hundred thousand companies and institutions like the White House have turned to Branders.com because of its unmatched low prices, speedy service and high quality products. By ordering online, companies also benefit from accurate item previews, up-to-the-minute order statuses and 24/7 support.
McLaughlin explains that with the talent they found in the Philippines, Branders was able to maintain its lead in the e-commerce market. The company’s Manila office is now the hub for account management, finance, marketing and design, engineering and IT servicing. Other offices are in the US and Mexico.
Staying on top
Joie Fuentes, Branders.com marketing director, joins Branders four years after earning his management degree from the Ateneo de Manila University, and his story of zooming to the top is one for the books.
At 27, he shares his experience, if only to lend a good story of how things can play out well in cyberspace, working from the Philippines with bright people around you.
“Results of our inputs have proven to be amazing,” he says. “From where we stay in our office at the Ortigas Center, our success as Branders people has a global impact. Our work becomes very rewarding, to say the least.”
Having the best people working for your company is at the core of being an industry leader. For McLaughlin, great people make a great company. That is why for Branders, it is essential to remain the employer of choice in this business.
The company attracts the best people with great compensation, bundled with a set of benefits. In an industry survey conducted by Watson Wyatt, Branders emerged as the highest paying company in its field. It pays 20 percent higher than average for Philippine BPO workers. The company’s top sales representatives regularly make over a million pesos a year. In the first three months of this year alone, Branders’ top sales rep made over P270,000.
Career development opportunities abound in the Branders workplace, a result not only of its leadership position, but most specially, out of the company culture that rewards performance and brings out the best in its people.
On the front line
Its frontline people, the sales professionals, deal on a regular basis with decision-makers of top US companies. Their jobs entail a considerable degree of confidence and the ability to communicate intelligently coupled with wit.
The company features excellent health benefits which extend to their dependents. Perks include free catered food daily, Facebook stations in the office, movie nights and even office parties.
“I was working in Cebu before Branders,” says sales team member Edward Carey. “What attracted me most was the company’s compensation. Pay here is really good. If you work really hard, you get a lot.”
“Work satisfaction also comes from being able to help our clients,” he says, adding that the company has improved his confidence. “With Branders, I get to sell to clients in the US. I’m learning about different cultures, different business styles.”
Branders’ online business is anchored on a state-of-the-art website using the patented “See before you buy” technology. Its pool of IT engineers keep themselves updated on software innovations to ensure that its website is most customer-friendly and has the best features for lead and sales generation, order tracking and monitoring.
In a company like Branders, the ideal workplace is realized with employees who are the stars. And unlike other competitive work environments, here there is always room for more stars.