Dennis Jardiolin pursues his passion as Woodmaster
By Rhea B. Peñaflor
(Note: This article was published in the maiden issue of Mezzo on may 2009, a lifestyle magazine in Western Visayas)
“You invest in trees because that will be your bank.”
True enough, this statement of Woodmaster’s Dennis Jardiolin’s father, Serafin became his ultimate guide in fulfilling his long-time dream— his undying passion for wood.
His father proved to be right. Nong Dennis vividly shares that it was not easy working in a foreign land but he is happy to retire in Pavia, Iloilo where he grew up. He had worked so hard as University of California, Los Angeles Powerplant’s mechanical engineer and he believes that it is now time that he fulfills his dream.
On May 2006, Nong Dennis started to put up Pacific Woodmasters Traders, where he is the sole proprietor after retiring from his job in the United States. His family suggested that he makes it a corporation since he might need to loan money, but he did not want to have financial headaches so he instead used his savings and decided on to be Woodmaster’s sole proprietor.
As expected, many discouraged him before he started putting up Woodmaster but he did not mind them because his only goal is to fulfill his long-time dream.
“My passion is wood. I told myself that one of these days, I want to pursue my passion. It never left my mind even if I was in the U.S. Why should I listen to discouragement of other people? I’m open to suggestions but I won’t let them stop me from pursuing my dream. I have waited long enough to have my dream materialize and this is it. ”
He recalls that as a child, he and his brothers were trained by his Papa, Serafin on how to become good persons by being hardworking. The whole family taught them farming, even on repairing tractors and tilling their own land in Pavia, Iloilo. It was their lola who was business-minded who was able to make use of the bounty of their farm.
Indeed, Nong Dennis’s passion for wood brought him back to his roots —Pavia. He said that at first, he only brought a saw mill in May 2006. He went home to Pavia for two months in 2006, but during the following year, he stayed for 6 months and brought more equipment for Woodmaster.
Woodmaster’s machineries come from the U.S., Australia and Canada except for the small ones, one or two which are Japanese surplus.
When asked why Woodmaster, Nong Dennis explained that he named his company Woodmaster because that is the same name of the company in the U.S. where his company is affiliated. TimberKing and Wood Master is Woodmaster’s affiliated company in the U.S. which provides all of Woodmaster’s machineries like sawmills and other wood equipment.
During Nong Dennis’s elementary years at the Iloilo Normal School, now West Visayas State University (WVSU), he chose “wood working” from the various home economic class alternative, where their teacher is Mr. Villareal. He then transferred to the Central Philippine Unviersity (CPU) where his teachers were Americans like Baker and Cooper. He fondly recalls his classmates not choosing wood working because they find it as a hard labor job and it turned out that it was just three of them who were interested on wood working as a vocational class. Since they are really of small number, the ratio of teacher per student is one is to one, he said and this gave them opportunity to really improve and master their craft in wood working.
“You see, wood has always been a part of me. It is not only my hobby, but I breathe wood if you must quote me. Actually, this was a long plan because even when I was in college, I already went to Mindanao to acquire a property of 1,500 hectares so that I can plant trees. I have a ranch there and I planted trees. I envisioned myself that in the future I will really fulfill my dream of having my own wood company.”
Nong Dennis went to check his land in Mindanao in 2005, but unfortunately, he can no longer claim his property because of the peace problem there. He then returned to Iloilo and asked around if there are potential trees which could supply the demand of his furniture and wood craft. He found out that there are abundant trees in Panay and that he can already use them so long as these trees have permits.
He emphasizes, “I am strict about permits. I personally check if it matches the tree that they are selling to Woodmaster. There was a time where the Number Three oldest tree in Dingle was brought here and I did not accept it because the tree was narra and yet the permit says, mahogany. There was a clear discrepancy. I don’t want any monkey business. Even DENR Secretary Atienza called me up at that time to check if I bought the oldest tree. ”
Nong Dennis also said that there are now exotic wood which are being sold right after “Typhoon Frank “as these trees were given permits by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) but he is very careful to verify that indeed these trees have permits.
Woodmaster’s first project which was also their first hotel client is the Boracay Beach Club in Malay, Aklan. The whole interiors were designed by Woodmaster and then followed more customers.
JET’s Construction though is Woodmaster’s first customer where they supplied mouldings, and wood to the Mormon’s Church in Iloilo City. It was only limited to mouldings and wood because at that time, the company does not have complete machineries.
“There’s no competition here. People have no choice but to buy even if the product isn’t good. I have seen really lousy products, yet people buy them. Wala na choice mo. It’s really made of substandard quality. I want to improve the wood industry. People are buying, so they need to get the value for their money. It’s okay to profit a little but you have to make your customers happy through your products.”
Nong Dennis adds, “My trainings in the U.S. helped me in pursuing my dream of putting up my own wood company. Most of the time, I read. At home in the U.S., I have a small shop where I make my own designs. I have already concrete designs in my mind on what I want. Of course, I also have designers and I also draw my own designs. I also see it in other products and then I just improve them. I love what I do and I am deeply satisfied with the outcome.”
Being the one to personally train his people including the use of machineries, Nong Dennis is proud that this month, May 2009, Woodmaster will be 3 years.
“I started from scratch but now, I could do what I dream of doing. It takes guts to put up what I’ve put up. And I believe that I could do it. My motivation as I said was to fulfill my long-time dream.”
Nong Dennis is also happy that he was able to create opportunities to the people of Pavia. His employees have complete benefits package such as the SSS, Philhealth, Pag-Ibig Fund and 13th Month Pay. Currently, he is setting up their retirement benefits. As of present, Woodmaster has 17 employees.
Nong Dennis is also aware that there will be difficulties but he said that these are just challenges. He thinks that everything was challenging but the most challenging and the most difficult in all his designs was the spiral staircase because there is a need to be exact with measurement. One mistake, he said and it will not look like a spiral staircase anymore.
“I have wood work which was a mistake but it turned out to be beautiful, too. It was a hollow spiral baluster, my favourite, but there was a mistake in doing it but the design turned out to be beautiful. Of course, you learn from your mistakes so long as you don’t repeat it again. My most favourite design is the spiral railings. It’s so hard to do it but after I finish doing it, I feel good. I’m open to new designs, comments, criticisms. That’s better than just looking at our products and not learning something new and innovative.”
Nong Dennis explains that wood has movement according to the moisture content of the surrounding air. It moves according to the weather. If there is no movement, the wood will crack. Wooden panel moves when there is moisture. Woodmaster extracts moisture of 12% for local market and 6-8% for export products. They also apply Woodtech and petroleum product carrier, in order to prevent termites.
Woodmaster do not use nails as it corrodes and creates holes, and it loosens. They use dowels, substitute for nails and American Gorilla glue. Woodmaster uses only solid wood. These are local wood all over Panay like mahogany trees.
The problem with Ilonggos, though says Nong Dennis is they ask for so much discount. When he first started, it was okay since it was more of a hobby. But with the financial crisis, he cannot afford to just give his products for free or at a very low cost.
“The most expensive which we have sold is the the one we shipped in New York, it’s around $700 to $1, 000. But designers there sell it for $2, 000-$3, 000.00. We also export our products but some of the orders have been put on hold this year because of the financial global recession. For our local market, we’ve sold a hotel’s main door for P110K. Altars of churches are at P150K supposedly but most of the time, clients still ask for discounts even if the price has already been discounted. There are alsothose who don’t pay. Most are those with big orders. So I learned from that experience that I shouldn’t be too trusting. Customers now need to pay a50% down payment and then full payment upon delivery.”
Nong Dennis shares that once dubbed Asia’s Queen of Songs, Pilita Corrales, and Jun Polistico, one of Philippine’s finest balladeers love Woodmaster’s products and even brought some wood craft in Manila.
“I’m content that I was able to satisfy my dream. I’m very happy. My next project is construction where the client will just walk in. We will do all the job for the client, we will make their house out of quality renewable wood and local materials. All they have to do is walk in. I’m excited about this.”
Certainly, this will be another promising hobby from a brilliant Ilonggo woodmaster.
Bravo, Woodmaster Dennis!