“I was just an average student in school,” he says self-effacingly. He pursued two degrees in chemical engineering and chemistry at the De La Salle University, where he met his future wife who studied further on to be a doctor. However, it wasn’t until he decided to take up an MBA that his life began to take a different turn.
The real-life atmosphere of post-graduate studies stimulated him, and so Erwin began seriously considering putting up his own business. “Being a Shell retailer was always in the back of my mind,” he explains, because his father owned a network of Shell stations in the CAMANAVA area.
He recalls the times in his youth when he would help out in his spare time and learn to relate to various people from all walks of life, from their employees to their customers.
He also had a short stint in a Filipino manufacturing plant after college, where he realized he enjoyed the personnel management aspect of the job more than anything else. “I’m really a people-person,” he admits.
Most importantly, Erwin trusted Shell as a global power, energy and gas technology leader—a brand and organization he literally grew up with. “I admire Shell for their integrity as a business, providing quality products and maintaining a high level of service. They also provide good opportunities to people—not only business owners, but their employees and their customers,” he explains.
What made it easier for Erwin to strike it on his own is Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation’s dealer owned retail business platform, which is an innovative method that provides a strong support system for entrepreneurs who wish to get into fuel retailing. Apart from a more affordable capital investment, they are guided step-by-step by Shell in all aspects of the business, from site selection and equipment to staff training and even marketing.
Thus, in 2012, Erwin finally realized his dreams of becoming his own boss with a Shell retail station in the Rizal area. Given that the biggest hurdle in the business is finding the right employees to serve as frontliners and forecourt attendants, he was well-prepared and up to the challenge given his people-centric nature. “It’s really difficult to find good people, but once you do, you will find really great ones,” he explains.