In 2008, Ronald Mascariñas challenged the existing roasted chicken industry.
Under Bounty Agro Ventures (BAVI)—the largest egg producer in the Philippines—he introduced a product that would become the Philippines’ second largest poultry integrator.
He founded Chooks-to-Go, a chicken rotisserie store chain that currently runs with almost 1,700 stores nationwide.
And like any other business, it wasn’t an overnight success; it was the fruit of determination and will.
A Chicken Story
BAVI was founded by businessman Tennyson Chen, who started the business with a poultry farm of 5,000 chickens in Sta. Maria, Bulacan.
After years, he hired Mascariñas, who was then the president of Smokey’s—a fast-food brand of San Miguel Purefoods.
Mascariñas built a team of his trusted colleagues and gained connections from their huge network. This plan then started BAVI’s nationwide poultry integration operations.
To accelerate nationwide reach, BAVI let third-party investors join in building and operating a network of poultry farms.
In the late 1990s, the ASEAN free-trade agreement threatened BAVI’s business. Bigger poultry producers offered the same products at a lower price.
When they looked at their numbers compared to Thailand, which is the biggest poultry producer in the region, they began to plan an action to save the company.
They planned a strategy that will market their product at a cheaper price.
“When competition disturbs our company’s direction, it challenges us to search for other opportunities to strengthen our position in the industry.”
“The imminent challenge of cheaper chicken supply from competing imports with the implementation of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) Agreement gave birth to Chooks-to-Go.”
“That was a very clear direction: If we want to sustain employment for all of us, then we need to put up our retail stores.”
BAVI is now a big producer of dressed chicken, feeds, and finished chicken products for their retail stores, with over 7 plantations in Luzon, 8 in the Visayas, and 4 in Mindanao.
As of 2015, it is already a P10-billion business from its chicken to go business such as Chooks-to-Go.
Success of Chooks-To-Go
After just five years in business, Chooks-to-Go became a very known brand in the Philippines.
It is now the leading roast chicken product, competing with Andoks, Sr Pedro, and Baliwag.
“Constructing a store does not require a great deal of capital. However, operating a thousand company-owned stores is not easy, and it required a major transformation in the way the company is organised.”
“The difficulties are offset by significant advantages, such as full control in managing compliance to operating standards, and a better grip on quality control to ensure consistent product quality and food safety,” he said to Poultry World.
It became a very popular brand that operations need to start very early in the morning to serve the long queues of customers that would appear during the day. Top stores can even sell 300 to 400 roast chickens per day.
“I thought they just exaggerated the story—that lines were crazy every day. But true enough, the lines really were long, Monday to Sunday.”
“And what was unique there was that most of who were lining were those paying for pre-paid orders—they would still get the chicken the next day. Those who lined up also paid the day before. It was that in-demand.”
The Philippine market has a preference for eating chicken with sauce—a trend that Chooks-to-Go broke.
The brand takes pride in its unique taste since it is the only lechon manok business that offers its product without an accompanying sauce.
Mascarinas shared how they accidentally discovered the technique in making the famous Chooks-to-go taste.
“We found out our guys in the processing plant skipped one step of the marinating process,” Mascarinas shared to ANC’s The Boss.
“They did not follow directions, but they made the chicken much much more delicious. That was really the success, skipping one step. That’s the secret.”
Another factor that resulted in the success of the brand is Mascariñas’ training on their personnel.
“We implement rigorous quality control at the plant. However, when the merchandise reaches the store, we are totally dependent on our store crew. That is why it is very important for us that we deploy only properly trained personnel.”
Recently, the company has opened two Chooks-to-Go branches in Malaysia, its first abroad venture. Mascariñas said that after they learn how to play in the international industry then they will further venture into different locations.
Featured Image Credit: Chooks-To-Go