Tony Tan Caktiong was born on October 07, 1960 to a working-class family from Fujian, China, who migrated to the Philippines during the post WWII era. Tony’s father found work as a cook at a Buddhist temple in downtown Manila and accordingly scrimped and saved so he could open his own Chinese restaurant in order to provide for his family. His father’s hard work and perseverance made it possible for Tony Tan Caktiong to earn a BS in Chemical Engineering at the University of Sto. Tomas, the Philippine’s oldest university.
In 1975, Tony ventured into the food business by buying an ice cream parlor franchise from the once famous Magnolia Ice Cream House. The parlor was small and nondescript, which catered mostly to the well heeled shoppers of Cubao. They were customers who could afford to buy cleverly concocted but rather expensive cobblers, floats, milkshakes, banana splits, sundaes and parfaits.
However, most of Tony’s regulars wished that the parlor had something else to offer, other than ice-cream concoctions. Hence, the small nondescript store started offering sandwiches, fries and fried chicken, which started to attract the attention of other tired and hungry shoppers, movie-theater goers and passers-by. The word fastfood was still unheard of at that time, but it was what the small store had to offer at affordable prices.
Soon after, customers started filling the store beyond its capacity as they patiently waited for their turn to be served. By 1978, Tony added six more ice cream parlors around Metro Manila, but the ice cream treats were no longer the attraction. Taking inspiration from America’s fast-rising McDonald’s food chain, Tony and his family decided to transform the ice cream parlors into fastfood outlets.
They strategized with their new venture by coming up with a unique name and symbol. Since Tony personally felt happy by working busily as a bee to produce honey, which in Tony’s case was money, he and his family decided to work on the busy bee concept. Hence, they came up with the large red and yellow bee with an effervescent smile on its face and called it “Jollibee”.
The once nondescript ice cream kiosk became Jollibee Food Corporation and braved the arrival of the McDonald’s fast food chain in the Philippines in 1981. Jollibee came out unscathed as it became the first Philippine food chain to break the one billion peso sales mark in 1989. The groundwork for global expansion was laid out when it became the first food service company to be listed in the Philippine Stock Exchange, for which capitalization funds started pouring in.
The rest is history, as Jollibee now owns its former competitors in the local fastfood chain business, Greenwich Pizza, Chowking (oriental dishes), Red Ribbon and DeliFrance bakeshops and lately Mang Inasal (chicken specialty house). Today, these fastfood chains are found in different parts of the world along with Jollibee’s globally recognized trade name.
Tony’s management and leadership style garnered the recognition not only of the Philippine’s local award-giving bodies but also that of the “World Entrepreneur Award in 2004, in Monte Carlo, Monaco” He is the first Filipino entrepreneur to receive the prestigious award.
In return, Jollibee Foundation was established in 2005, to specifically address the social responsibility of the company. The foundation provides assistance to its employees and communities on a nationwide scale regarding matters of education, housing, leadership and social developments, environmental conservation and responses to disaster problems in times of calamitous events.