William Belo: 5 Entrep Tips from The Big Box Founder

May 16th, 2017

In 2014, Go Negosyo featured William Belo in its publication entitled 50 Entrepreneurs of Passion where he shared his entrepreneurial journey. In starting a business, it has often been said that to make money you have to start with food, shelter and clothing. For William Belo, he started with shelter. A working student, Belo worked as a counter salesman in a construction supply company that was part owned by his father until he became the manager of the entire store. It was then when he realized that he wanted his own small business to run; he no longer wanted to become an employee, he wanted to be his own boss.

After 40 years, Belo's home improvement company Wilcon is now a compelling retail player with a network of 36 'big box’ and community stores.

After 40 years, Belo’s home improvement company Wilcon is now a compelling retail player with a network of 36 ‘big box’ and community stores.

He started his own business in 1977 with a small hardware store along Quezon Avenue. Belo’s business started with a rough patch during the Martial Law when business was difficult. With the help of friends, banks and suppliers, his business was able to recover. Decades later, Wilcon has expanded its operations in and out of Metro Manila. Belo put up the first Wilcon Depot in 2002 on Zapote Road Alabang where he saw the big jump in the business. He compared the difference between the small shop and the depot. The number of choices in brand, styles and designs were limited to 2000-3000 items while the depot had 60-80,000 items that people could buy. Today, Wilcon is a market leader in home improvement retailing and is a Hall of Fame awardee of the Philippine Retailers Association. Wilcon is able to provide the Filipino consumers with a one-stop shop solution that will have all construction supply and home improvement items combined in one roof.

In an interview with Josiah Go on February 2017, Belo shared his learnings after being in the business for more than 40 years. One of the greatest legacies that Wilcon has and are very proud of is that they are a local company with international standards in serving the market as a home grown brand. Starting from a four-man store way back in 1977, they are now a company with more than 4,500 directly hired employees and more than 2,000 promodisers from business partners. One of Belo’s primary objectives is to help the local manufacturers grow with them as partners. Wilcon has benefited consumers in a way that the company is able to generate more than 6,500 jobs. Wilcon considers themselves as partners of our country in nation building by providing jobs and helping support the economy.

Wilcon Depot store in Bacoor, Cavite. Photo courtesy of Wilcon Depot Facebook Page.

Wilcon Depot store in Bacoor, Cavite. Photo courtesy of Wilcon Depot Facebook Page.

Today, the brand has a total of 36 operational outlets in Metro Manila. In the next five years, their goal is to cover the whole country, focusing primarily on the major cities.

The secret formula to a successful business? For William Belo, there is none. It’s about pure dedication and knowledge to the business you’re in. But here are a few pieces of advice Belo can give to all the aspiring entrepreneurs:

1. DO WHAT YOU LIKE
You need to have passion for the business you want to get into. Put your heart into it and make sure it’s the right one for you.

2. PERSONALIZE
In starting a business, you really have to be hands on. You can’t just start a business and let somebody run it for you.

3. STUDY YOUR BUSINESS
If you really want to have your own business, study it very well. You need to know how to do it before you even start. You need to know what you’re doing, what you’ll be expecting to do and of course the ins and outs of the your business.

4. DON’T BE DISCOURAGED
There are a lot of opportunities available, just make sure to take and maximize whatever opportunity that comes your way.

5. GROW AND INNOVATE
Innovation is the key to growth. You need to continue expanding the business and the product lines, continue offering new products and make sure that the level of service is there.