A very old but very wise adage teaches that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. For businessman Guan Kay Lo, this adage holds true. He took the first “single step” in 1945 and established a small business which underwent several changes and challenges, an amazing journey if you may, and through commitment, dedication, hard work and the miracle of time, it blossomed 65 years later into what is now known as the Guanzon Group of Companies.
After the War
When the Japanese forces vacated San Fabian and Lingayen areas in Pangasinan towards the end of World War II, the Americans took over and offered jobs and some economic opportunities to the Filipinos. Food supplies have become quite abundant and Guan Kay Lo, who was fondly called by his friends as Juan or Johnny, saw an opportunity for putting up a business. He bought hogs from around his neighborhood and exchanged these for canned goods and liquors with the Americans at the military base. Later on, he traded the US goods in Manila.
The kalesa or horse-drawn buggy was the most popular means of transportation in the locality in 1945 and Guan Kay Lo’s passion for business compelled him to sell parts for the kalesa. His first shop in Dagupan was built with light materials like a nipa hut and he used the business name “Guanzon Hardware”, which was derived from a namesake he saw in Tondo, Manila during one of his trade trips there. Aside from kalesa spare parts, Guanzon Hardware also sold fishing nets, supplies and accessories, small appliances and sewing machines and spare parts.
The ‘50s and the ‘60s
By 1950, bicycles were gaining some popularity around the country and Guanzon Hardware started selling bicycles and spare parts in addition to their existing product lines. The continued rise in the demand for bicycles as a means of personal transportation went on until the late ‘50s, but the market created a demand for faster mobility and for motorized bikes in 1960. Guanzon Hardware saw the business potential and added motorcycles to its inventory.
The company enjoyed brisk motorcycle sales up to 1964. To get the biggest market share in the Pangasinan motorcycle market, Guan Kay Lo signed up with Mariwasa Honda which gave Guanzon Hardware the pioneering Honda motorcycle dealership in Pangasinan. In 1968, the shop was razed by fire and Guan Kay Lo had to borrow money from his relatives to re-open the business. It took Guanzon Hardware two years before they managed to recoup from their losses and stabilize their business operation.
The ‘70s and the ‘80s
With a brighter financial outlook in 1970, the company started to hire additional employees in order to fill up its growing manpower requirements. In 1975, Guanzon Hardware added Suzuki motorcycles to its inventory after Antonio Suzuki Corporation strengthened its distribution and marketing forces in the country.
Despite the unstable political and economic climate around the country in 1983, the company opened Guanzon Merchandising Corporation, which was located at Perez Boulevard in Dagupan City. This was the first branch which was engaged in selling the full motorcycle product line-up of Mariwasa Honda and during the same year, Guanzon renewed their partnership with the formation of Honda Philippines, Inc. (HPI). Since then, Guanzon gets consistently awarded as one of the most outstanding dealers of HPI.
Expanding in the ‘90s
In 1990, LGK Guanzon, Inc. was established as an exclusive dealer of Honda motorcycle and its first shop at A.B. Fernandez, Dagupan City was opened. Consistently meeting its sales targets, Guanzon Honda expanded with six more branches. Three years later, the company ventured into the automobile business by partnering with Honda Cars Pangasinan, Inc.
In 1998, United Excelsior Marketing Inc. (UEMI), the first multi-brand shop carrying all brands of motorcycles was established. The first UEMI branch was located in Tapuac District, Dagupan City. During the same year, the company ventured into the mobile phone business and Guanzon Merchandising Corporation started selling GSM mobile phones. Ms. Jane Lo handled the operation of the mobile shops, together with three employees. Meanwhile, Guanzon Honda was awarded by HPI as the Most Improved Dealer in Genuine Parts.
The New Millennium
At the start of the new millennium, the company began to seriously include mobile phones in their product lines because of its growing popularity and on July 13, 2000, the first concept mobile phone shop was established at the Magic Mall in Urdaneta City, Pangasinan. The company’s motorcycle business continued to expand with a multi-brand shop opened in Laoag City and three more branches opened in Olongapo City, Zambales; Angeles, Pampanga and Bulacan in 2002.
In 2003, Motorcentrum Corporation, which sells Honda motorcycles exclusively, was opened with a first branch in San Carlos, Pangasinan and followed by four more branches in Baguio City; Vigan City, Ilocos Sur; Cainta, Rizal and Urdaneta, Pangasinan. A year later, Guanzon opened its first exclusive Suzuki 3S Shop in Taytay, Rizal and six branches were later opened in Paniqui, Tarlac; Agoo, La Union; Dau, Pampanga; Batac, Ilocos Norte; Tarlac City and Capas, Tarlac.