Willy Tee Ten has been gifted with a unique name that you can always remember. And this is probably the reason why he was able to succeed, because his name alone can stand as a brand. But kidding aside, he was able to prove that he is more than just a catchy name. His clever strategies and dedication for excellence made him one of the most respected personalities in the automotive industry.
Willy’s interest is in Math and Science, so it is not surprising for someone like him to take up Chemical Engineering as a college degree. The following year after he graduated from the De La Salle University, he placed second in the National Licensure Exam for Chemical Engineers with a rating of 92.1%. He earned several offers from multinational companies, and he worked for Proctor and Gamble for a short while before he decided to help in their family’s distillery business, which supplies raw materials of alcohol to Tanduay and La Tondena.
His life changed in 1998 when his close friend Rene Lao called and encouraged him to try their luck in applying for a Ford dealership. Willy was out of town at that time, but his friend was persistent, as they had to decide as soon as possible. He was hesitant at first because he is not really into cars, and his family had no background experience doing business in the automobile industry. But he soon gave in because he believed that if others can do it, he can do it too.
Despite being the youngest and the least experienced among the bidders, his presentation caught the interest of Ford. What made his proposal stand out was his plan to put up a restaurant called “Café Overdrive” that will be opened inside the dealership, which is actually his marketing strategy. Willy’s bid was granted by Ford in September of that year, and his growing line of other dealerships such as Nissan, BMW, Hyundai, Mazda, as well as the sole distributorship of Mini and Italian Vespa, Piaggio, and Gilera scooters and V-Kool window films, form part of the Autohub group which he established.
Like any entrepreneur, Willy’s path is not an easy one. He was presented the opportunity to be a Ford dealer at the time of the Asian financial crisis. In order for him to be able to bid, he sold his shares in their family’s alcohol distillery business to the Lucio Tan group. He also encountered problems with his personnel because his technicians are pirated by other car dealerships after training and allowing them to gain experience in his company.
Willy never gave up on these challenges. His innate passion for success is contagious. His employees will say that he is the type of boss that will make a fun working environment, but he will warmly encourage everyone to develop and shine. And this type of leadership worked for him. In its first year, Ford Makati became the number one dealer in the country, and it remained to be at the top.
Recognitions were awarded to Willy for his passion and dedication as a self-made entrepreneur. He was selected as the Philippine representative to the President’s Circle, which is an organization of top CEOs of Ford dealerships nationwide. He was also a recipient of several awards, including being one of the PLDT SME Bossing awardees for 2012. He was even adopted as a member of the Magiting Class of 1983 by the Philippine National Police Academy. This makes him “batchmates” with former US Ambassador Kristie Kenney, Secretary of National Defense Gen. Voltaire Gazmin, Albay governor Joey Salceda, and former PNP Chief Sonny Razon.
At this point in his career, Willy continues to make Autohub grow and to give back to the country. The MINI, the Italian scooters, V-Kool films, Tartarini and Lovato LPG Kits, and the upcoming Piaggio Ape that he distribute contributes to a greener environment through lesser carbon emissions and gas consumption, and he has somewhat went back to his chemical engineering roots by putting up a distillery plant with Seaoil for ethanol as one of the alternative sources of energy in the Philippines. He has been working with various organizations to support environmental and health causes. He also has a new program called Arangkada Pinoy Entrepreneur, where he helps aspiring negosyantes to put up their own business by offering the Piaggio commercial vehicles that will suit every business needs. Willy also plans to put up a school for technicians. He will be adopting them as full scholars working for Autohub Car Dealerships as a technicians, exchange OJTs abroad, and soon, trainers in his school.
As a self-made entrepreneur who has proven that passion can bring out the best in a person for him to succeed, does Willy believe that now is our time? How does he intend to help see this come to reality personally and through the Autohub Group?
“I believe that now is our time…and there is no other time but NOW. True to the saying “what you sow is what you reap”, we are planting the seeds for our kids’ generation. The future ahead of them greatly lies on how we build and establish its foundation today. Simple social contributions could make a great impact on what’s in store for them in the future.
Through Autohub, I would like to concentrate more on distributing products for a greener environment. I would also like to give a brighter opportunity to our skillful Filipino youths to be scholars who will be trained and educated in our car dealerships, an opportunity to both learn and earn. And most of all, our involvement in different socio-civic programs that will allow us to give back what we owe our environment for selling cars in the past 13 years.
For me it’s all giving others a chance to live and a chance to grow. Dare to Dream, Dare To Do!“