Philippines

A ‘scoop’ off the old block

This 26-year-old marketing management graduate is carrying on the legacy of the artisanal ice cream business established by his father, and he is content with this chosen career path. Not only is he lending an invaluable helping hand, but he’s also bringing the business to the next level by venturing into e-commerce.

Jaime Magsaysay, Head of Social Media and E-commerce
Carmen’s Best

For Jaime Magsaysay, son of the hit artisanal ice cream wizard Paco Magsaysay, there has never been any career path other than that toward the family business.

A now-familiar presence on menus in fine restaurants and important family gatherings, Carmen’s Best owes its existence to the Laguna dairy farm of Jaime’s lolo (grandfather), former senator Ramon “Jun” Magsaysay Jr., which was set up to sell fresh milk. Unfortunately, the product did not have a very long shelf life and could not compete with commercial brands. This led Magsaysay to task his son Paco to find good use for the excess milk.

Initially churning out cheese, pastillas (sweets) and flavored milk, to name a few, the business eventually blossomed into one offering a range of ice cream with unusual twists on traditional flavors. Named after Paco’s youngest child and only daughter Carmen, the brand continues to live up to its promise of delivering a world-class Filipino concoction.

The ‘natural’

Carmen’s kuya (older brother) Jaime, a marketing management graduate of De La Salle University, is now very much involved in this homegrown enterprise as he naturally felt he would. “Even when I was very small, my dad would tell me that I would eventually take over,” he says.

Like his father, Jaime also cherishes childhood memories associated with ice cream. “Every weekend, we’d have dinner at [Alabang Town Center] and that meant ice cream afterward,” he says, calling to mind a Häagen-Dazs stall that once stood there. “I’d always get the dulce de leche flavor because of my sweet tooth.”

Rather than letting his eldest son work for a different company after college, Paco decided to take him into the Carmen’s Best fold so he could learn the ropes directly from him. Jaime would mostly shadow him, sit in at meetings and provide inputs, besides helping out at their cable company, Asian Vision Cable Holdings.

In 2017 — a year before Jaime graduated — they launched the ice cream parlor at the Power Plant mall in Rockwell Center, Makati City. Since Paco was keen for him to get acquainted with the business’ different aspects, he interacted with the customers, and even learned to make their sundaes and parfaits. These days, however, as head of social media and e-commerce, Jaime has his hands full as Carmen’s Best shifts to online selling, besides physically promoting ice cream around their Ayala Alabang neighborhood.

“There’s an influx of orders every day and we’re getting a bit overwhelmed,” Jaime reports.

This is only one of the visible effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid 19) pandemic on the Magsaysay enterprise. Sadly, they had to close their first retail shop in Alabang Town Center recently. But as Jaime’s dad says: “You can’t be emotional about things like these. You have to be practical in order to survive [the times].”

Airlines, restaurants, resorts and coffee shops — just some of their biggest accounts — were seriously affected by Covid-19, but the 26-year-old chief-to-be cites some good news, too. “Our employees are healthy and production is back to normal now.” To compensate for the losses incurred, they were able to attract new — tech-savvy — community resellers.

Going digital

The virtual is, more than anything, a millennial’s game, and Jaime’s father realizes this. “We really had to change how we sell,” Paco says, referring to e-commerce. “This is Jaime’s thing. It’s not really in me the way that it’s in him.”

Jaime (right) and his role model, father Paco Magsaysay, creator of Carmen’s Best ice cream; and (below) with his management team. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

The ice cream connoisseur adds: “We are working with Globe’s online store, which will have an “Order Here” button that will redirect them to a page where they can do online transactions.” Once credit card transactions are enabled, Filipinos abroad can purchase and send ice cream to their loved ones in the country.

The dynamic in family-owned businesses undoubtedly differs from those that are not. Like many children of CEOs, Jaime reveals that his experience is one with mixed emotions. “It’s a bit tough to work with my dad, because, of course, he’s your dad, but there’s also a boss version of him that you see,” he explains. “But at the end of the day, I know he just wants the best for me.” He adds: “It’s also fun, because he is like my friend too.”

It is also from Paco, grandson of the revered late president Ramon Magsaysay, that Jaime draws strength and inspiration. “I just want to help him out,” he declares. “He’s given me so much in life, so I just want to do what I can. He always tells me: ‘This business is for us — my brother Mikee and my sister Carmen — so we need to work hard.’” Mikee works at Union Bank of the Philippines and Carmen is with JP Morgan Chase in New York.

“[When my turn comes,] I hope one day my children will [continue on] our business,” Jaime adds.

Not only has the community quarantine given Jaime enough time to work, but also time to binge on Netflix. “I recently just finished rewatching Breaking Bad,” he admits, referring to the Emmy-winning crime drama starring Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. Pre-quarantine, Jaime indulged in playing basketball with his dad in the neighborhood parks. “We’d wake up at 5 a.m. and go to the court,” he says. “It was our bonding activity in a way.”

Currently, he is reading an e-copy of The Art of War by strategist Sun Tzu, which was recommended by Paco.

Travel has also been an integral part of the young Magsaysay’s life. He would spend Christmas in Japan every year, as his mother is Japanese.

A scoop off the old block? Jaime is proud to be described as such.

ABOUT ME

ROLE MODEL
My dad, because of the way he started Carmen’s Best, which was really amazing. Saludo ako sa kanya (I really salute him) for all the hard work he’s done.

FIRST-PAYING JOB
Various jobs at Carmen’s Best

GOALS
Professional goal: to be a good boss. Personal goal: to be a good son

MORNING RITUAL
After waking up, I exercise — do light weightlifting and jogging on the treadmill.

SPECIAL SKILLS
Sometimes, I can taste a person’s hand when I try food. My taste buds are really sensitive

TIME SPENT ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Four to five hours a day

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