ADVANCED Telecommunications (Adtel) Inc. president and chief operating officer Reynaldo “Regie” T. Casas joined the Lopez Group because of a concept. In 1994, he thought of a business that would supply the requirements of telecommunication companies in the context of a newly deregulated industry.
Casas had spent 10 years in IBM Philippines and then five years in Bell South, an American telecom company, as an expatriate executive based in Hong Kong. Upon returning to Manila, he became the senior vice president for marketing in EasyCall Philippines when he met with then Lopez Group Chairman Eugenio Lopez Jr., Bayan Telecommunications Vice-Chairman Eugenio Lopez III and Atty. Jake Almeda Lopez. He was also interviewed for a post in another start-up telco.
“But it was the Lopez Group that accepted the concept of being a supplier and contractor for telecom companies. They said, ‘We have a company here, Adtel, that you can convert into an operating company.’ We started it in August (1994) with Atty. Jake (Almeda Lopez) as our Chairman and CEO,” recalls Casas.
Today, Lopez Group Chairman Oscar M. Lopez is concurrently Adtel Chairman and chief executive officer with Almeda Lopez as Vice-Chairman.
The following month, Casas hired Adtel’s chief financial officer Lucy D. Landayan, a certified public accountant, who has stayed with the company and seen its workforce grow to 400-strong including project-based employees. Shortly thereafter, Casas hired Andrew J. Ramos and Armand D. Batalla, both licensed electronic communications engineers and Sasa P. Manalansan, a licensed dentist who preferred a career in telecom with Adtel.
All four eventually comprised the core group of Adtel’s management committee going on their 15th year with Adtel and all four having gone through postgraduate studies at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).
Adtel, which served telecom, broadcast and information technology requirements, turned out to be an entrepreneurial success. Despite there being no instruction for other companies in the group to support Adtel, it proved to be a competitive supplier, winning contracts on the basis of merit. Today, the company serves all telecom operators in the industry. In addition, it made famous the aerial TV antenna branded as “Baron” as part of its business line. As a result, it posted profts and paid dividends in 12 of its 15 years in existence.
“From the start, the Lopez family has been very supportive of the concept of Adtel serving the needs of both the telecom and broadcast industries. They see it as an entrepreneurial venture and all investments are internally financed. We haven’t borrowed money all these years, except for the time we bought a service vehicle,” says Casas.
Being debt-free may change though, as Casas steers Adtel toward a new industry: renewable energy with focus on solar power systems and other hybrid devices. Climate change is a phenomenon affecting the world and the Philippines, being an equatorial country, needs alternative sources of power. The new vision of Adtel is to occupy the solar space while representing the interest of the Lopez Group.
With the company targeting rural Filipinos for its home solar power systems, Casas hopes Lopez Group member companies step up and aid in alleviating poverty. In addition, embed corporate social responsibility (CSR) as part of its core business.
He says, “I have seen firsthand what real poverty is like. I’ve gone to our pilot sites where there is no electricity, and I realized that they will still not have this basic service for the next hundred years, simply because it does not make business sense for the distribution utility to get them on-grid.
“To further support this new vision, we are gearing to increase our provincial offices to 12 from the current five. Each office will be a business hub that will market all Adtel products and services with emphasis on solar energy. This is how we plan to expand our market outside Metro Manila. The challenge is how to empower our people to take on this responsibility of running business hubs on their own, while embracing one set of corporate values,” Casas says.
As the telecom and broadcast fields mature, solar electrification may yet set Adtel on a new growth path that can eclipse its first 15 years.
According to Casas: “The vision of EL3 and his father toward Adtel enabled the company to span both telecom and broadcast industries, with Atty. Jake (Almeda Lopez) overseeing the operations and the spirit behind Adtel’s growth. Today, Adtel’s corporate journey is driven by the corporate values of OML, the current Chairman, with quality programs in place to remain competitive and CSR programs embedded in its core business to help the marginalized sector of our society.”
Casas is looking forward to seeing Adtel grow even faster and stronger with highly motivated and competent people, ever faced with the challenges of constant changes in the telecom, broadcast, IT and now the solar industry.