Philippine Daily Inquirer — May 06, 2018 by Tina Arceo-Dumlao
Around six years ago, the fiercely driven Rolando B. Hortaleza suddenly shifted to low gear after decades of moving at warp speed in pursuit of his vision to make Splash Corp. one of the biggest movers in the local personal care industry and a formidable shaker in the food manufacturing, marketing, and distribution sectors.
Taking care of his health had taken top priority and so Hortaleza—of the family that became synonymous with vaciador (one who sharpens salon instruments like the nipper)—left almost all of the duties and responsibilities of running the day-to-day operations of the group behind such market leaders as Maxi-Peel, SkinWhite and Hygienix to his trusted lieutenants as well as his sons who had heeded his request to join him in the company.
The medical doctor heeded the advice to “heal thyself” and cut down on his visits to the office where he used to spend more than the required eight hours a day.
The chair and CEO of Splash limited himself to high-level management meetings that involved major policy or investment decisions.
But after his team of doctors gave him the prayed for clean bill of health last year, the invigorated Hortaleza quickly picked up where he left off.
His taking over once again of the reins of the company he and his wife, Rosalinda, co-founded as a backyard business in 1985 with a capital of just P12,000 proved to be a needed shot in the arm, with the privately held Splash recording robust numbers in the past year.
In 2017, Splash ended with P3.75 billion in revenues with sales accelerating at a faster pace than the industry average.
The whitening category accounted for the bulk of the sales at P1.69 billion followed by exfoliants at P1.17 billion. The top brands are SkinWhite and Maxi-Peel Zero.
Hortaleza was particularly encouraged by the virtual doubling of the sales of antibacterial products under the Hygienix brand, indicating that it had a new profit driver among its increasing stable of products.
Revenue growth carried over in the first quarter of this year with SkinWhite remaining a flagship brand along with Maxi-Peel and sales of antibacterial products growing by a hefty 59 percent.
As Splash continues to post positive numbers in the country, the company is at the same time plotting moves to expand aggressively into new market segments and establish a more robust presence overseas, particularly in Indonesia and Nigeria where its products have found a loyal following.
Hortaleza, who turned 59 last week, tells the Inquirer in an interview that moves are underway to expand into the more “mainstream” categories of the personal care industry, including shampoo and conditioner, to add to its market leadership in categories such as skin whitening (SkinWhite), exfoliants (Maxi-Peel), specialized hair solutions (Vitress), premium hair coloring (Kolours) and antibacterial (Hygienix).
In 2017, it supported its products with marketing campaigns, specifically for Maxi-Peel Zero and Vitress Hair Freshener.
This year, Hortaleza says the company will launch campaigns for Hygienix, SkinWhite, Flawlessly U and Vitress. Splash is likewise looking for more pockets to put in products of Barrio Fiesta Manufacturing Corp., which it acquired in 2011 and Moondish Corp., bought in 2012.
As for revenue growth abroad, Hortaleza believes it will come from Africa and Indonesia where Splash won a trademark case that will finally pave the way for it to aggressively market its powerhouse Maxi-Peel brand.
In Nigeria, the plan is to widen the reach of its Extract brand. The company may even put up a manufacturing unit there once the numbers justify the move.
The Agora Awardee for Entrepreneurship admits that the company made expansive mistakes when it expanded in previous years into new categories such as toothpaste.
But it has learned its lessons, such as to first strengthen back-end operations as well as the links in the supply chain, thus it feels it is better prepared today to again pursue the goal of entering new categories as well as markets.
With the infrastructure enhanced and the vision and mission sharpened, Splash believes it is well on its way to conquering new heights, with Hortaleza—with renewed vim and vigor—more than ready to take on the daunting challenge.