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By: John Maico M. Hernandez

Mr. Henry and Ms. Apple Raca, former janitor and sales agent who now own C&H Cosmetic Industry, a Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) Adoptor of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) CALABARZON were hailed as the agency’s Best SETUP Adoptor this year.
 
 
The Best SETUP Adoptor Award is given to a company which exhibits outstanding operational performance as a result of technology adoption and utilization of DOST’s technological innovations and technical assistance. The award uses productivity, resilience, agility, innovation, sustainability, and excellence as metrics in selecting which adoptor excelled the most.
 
Mr. Raca shared his humble beginnings as a janitor during day-time and a student at night until he landed on a sales agent career. Ms. Raca, on the contrary, had a good life. However, after the fall of their family business, she was left with no choice but to pull off her abilities to make a living. Their fate brought them together. Henry who works as a sales agent met Apple, a rookie in their company. They shared time as co-workers, agents of insecticide products, until such time they found themselves falling for each other and then decided to make a family together. As a couple, they dreamt big and unfolded their maximum potentials to barely kick off their own business. Using 5,000 pesos, a fraction of the cash gifts they received during their wedding, they started a trading company. This venture became successful and has inspired them to embark on a brave journey of creating their own beauty product company instead of trading other brands. The love of Ms. Raca for beauty and skincare products served as their springboard in venturing to this kind of business.
 
In 2014, Mr. Raca learned about DOST’s SETUP while watching television. Driven with the desire to improve their fully manual and labor-intensive soap production process, the couple applied to avail the assistance that SETUP offers at DOST’s Provincial Office in Batangas. Their application got approved and they were able to acquire equipment which helped mechanize their production processes and eliminate rejects which, in effect, increased their productivity. As they progress as a business, they were able to provide local employment not only in Quezon and Batangas, but all over the Philippines through the creation of their regional distribution channels.
 
Aside from the SETUP project they have availed in 2014, the firm also received other DOST services such as Energy Audit Consultancy Program, PO Financing Program and LIGTAS COVID-19 Program under the DOST-TAPI. In 2020, they have applied for another SETUP project aimed at upgrading their cosmetic line production processes and catering pending markets. These interventions paved the way for the 436% total increase in production volume from 2014 to 2021, 92.2% increase in sales, local and export market penetration, improved packaging and soap cutting processes which reduced risks of contamination and ensured the products’ quality of the company. Significantly, the company has also reduced their production rejects from 23% down to only 2% at present. Savings was computed at around 45% for energy and about 88% for time. Meanwhile, more than 600 employees all over the country depend on their company’s operations.
 
What sets them apart from other soap companies is their market-oriented research and development program. As a result, they were able to develop their very own “Kereina White Formula” which employs the use of all-natural plant-based ingredients for their soap products. Using this formula, the company is able to help more than 5,000 coconut farmers who supply their coconut oil requirement.
 
Through the leadership of Mr. and Mrs. Raca, the company has also developed an emergency-ready strategic plan where their business continuity plan, five-year market plan, total year plan, risk management plan, and research & development plan were identified and linked. To safeguard their sustainability, they have spun off three more companies dedicated for local, export, and online marketing distributions of their products. They have also co-established a US-based Extension Office at Azusa, California for the distribution of their products to forty states of America. Aside from this, they are also exporting their products to countries in Asia, United Arab Emirates, Africa, and in Australia among others.
 
Mr. and Mrs. Raca are also proud of the local and international recognitions they have received throughout the years. They take pride to be the first Filipino Cosmetic Company with HALAL Compliant Manufacturing Plant certified by the United Arab Emirates and first Filipino Cosmetic Company with HALAL Certification in Middle East given by Prime Certification Accreditation. They have also been awarded with a Canadian Health Accreditation for Cosmetics and Skincare, Best Innovative Product Award in South Luzon during the Department of Trade and Industry’s Gawad SME, and 2020 InJap Sia Outstanding Young Entrepreneur Awards Finalist.
 
In the midst of the pandemic, the challenge for Mr. and Mrs. Raca was to win or lose their companies since soap products were not part of what people consider essential during a crisis. According to them, it was no longer a test of surviving the company but a commitment to save the lives of their 600+ employees and their families. Driven by this cause, they have strategically developed an alcohol formula as an addition to their product line. While there’s still a persisting public demand for alcohol, the company thrived in the middle of this crisis and continued to provide employment to its people. The agile shift of production was made possible through the utilization of some of the equipment they have acquired through their second SETUP project with DOST CALABARZON.
 
Aside from operating as a business, Mr. and Mrs. Raca also made sure to give back to the community through their #Project C&H: We Care and Help program. This program includes conversion of chemical drums into trash bins and benches in benefit of schools and barangays in Quezon, annual financial support for Brgy. Balat-Atis, San Antonio, Quezon, and sponsorship of civic programs and activities like the DepEd Brigada Eskwela in Batangas and Quezon. As a gesture of support to the community, the company also initiated several donation drives aimed at lending a hand to people in need specifically during the Taal Volcano Eruption in 2020 and the implementation of community quarantine in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. They have distributed relief goods not just to the municipalities affected by the crises but also to their workforce and in Brgy. Balat-Atis, San Antonio, Quezon.
 
Aside from providing local employment to hundreds of people, their company has also been recognized by the municipal government of San Antonio Quezon as the first company in their municipality to practice non-discriminatory hiring as they provide jobs and opportunities to senior citizens, PWD, LGBT and out-of-school youths.
 
Given all the breakthroughs that they have done and received from their business, the only story that Mr. and Mrs. Raca would want to tell the world is about bravery to achieve a wildest dream and doing it at the forefront of transforming not just oneself but the lives of the larger community.