By Abigael Mei Yaokana / Office of the Director, DTI-EMB
WITH just a capital of P10,000, Myrna Bituin and her husband Jose founded JB Woodcraft Inc. in 1972. Their first products were monkey-pod items, which they sold at souvenir shops in Subic, Zambales; Angeles City; Mabini, Manila; Paete, Laguna; and Baguio City.
“My husband grew up in Betis, where almost everyone was either a carpenter, carver, sculptor, or varnisher. His father is also a craftsman,” she said.
The couple ventured into furniture making with Subic- and Clark-based US servicemen as their first clients.
The company grew over the years, both in the export and domestic markets, and now counts the Malaysian royal family as among their clients.
Being in the high-end market, satisfying their clients’ requirements even to the smallest detail is very important.
“Furniture is not only about technology; it is also about the details and the passion of the workers that are part of the furniture being produced,” she said.
Bituin also credits the importance of teaming up with her husband.
“He has the mastery of wood crafting while I take care of the details and keeping the workers together as one family,” she said.
“The challenge of being in the furniture industry is the pricing, especially when China, Vietnam and Indonesia became our active competitors,” Bituin said. “We have to make sure the quality of our products stand out so our prices can still be competitive.”
“JB products are always mistaken as a product of Italy,” she said.
The Department of Trade and Industry’s Export Marketing Bureau has assisted JB Woodcraft since 1986, when the company joined an exhibition in High Point, North Carolina, where their products were officially introduced to the foreign market.
“It was a very good project because it started from product development to assistance in manufacturing to marketing the products in the US,” she said.
The clients gained from this project are still their clients and are also buying from their sister company, Betis Crafts Inc.
To date, they have four companies with the basic objective of complementation and specialization of their products. Bituin also takes pride in the respect shown by their workers, whom they consider their family.
Managing a multiawarded and world-class furniture company, Bituin considers their greatest achievements “are not the trophies we receive, but the graduation diploma of my workers’ children and the simple housing projects for our retirees”.
Bituin counts passion as the main ingredient for the success of their brand. She also notes that women in the marketing industry are “more persuasive and can push more for orders” and they are very “keen about the smallest details”.