Mercedes Pelaez-Mejia
Mercedes Pelaez-Mejia

Mercedes Pelaez-Mejia of Cagayan de Oro-based SLERS Industries, Inc. has been cited as one of “The Ten Outstanding Entrepreneurs of 2008? by Entrepreneur Philippines, a Summit publication.

“These intrepid men and women pursued a single well-thought-out idea to gain a foothold in their respective markets and grow their businesses successfully,” said Jose M. Galang, Jr., editor-in-chief. “With strong determination and an abiding passion for what they do, they were able to steer their fledgling enterprises to stability and growth – some to even leadership positions in their particular market niches.”

Pelaez-Mejia is the youngest of five siblings of Ofelia Cosin-Pelaez and the late Raul Pelaez who founded SLERS Ham 39 years ago in Camp Phillips, Bukidnon. Litlit, as she is known to her family and friends, took over the management of the then fledgling business in 1987.

Pelaez-Mejia’s profile written by writer Katrina Tan and published in the December 2008 issue of Entrepreneur Philippines cites her numerous initiatives which led to the successful expansion of SLERS Industries from a small, home-based family business to its present corporate set-up with distinct product lines and establishments.

However, the audio visual presentation presented during the awards night held last Dec.4 at the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati City cited her as a “Leader” for pioneering the “takal” system of merchandising in the wet markets of supermarkets which empowered the customer with the power of choice in choosing their frozen meat products.

“At first, SM didn’t want to allow us to use the takal system which they perceived as unhygienic because it allowed our customers to handle our frozen food products when they were choosing their preferred cuts,” Litlit recalls. “But in time, after they noted how successful it was in rival supermarkets, and thanks to Leah Lee, they finally relented.”

Although the ‘takal system’ was already being used in the wet markets of public markets, it was Litlit who adopted the system in supermarkets for their frozen food products like tocino, chorizo and longganisa.

“Pinoy shoppers are very tactile,” she notes. “They want to touch and feel, especially food products, before settling on the particular item they want to buy.”

Cagayan de Oro’s SLERS Industries pioneered the ‘takal system’ of merchandising meat products
Cagayan de Oro’s SLERS Industries pioneered the ‘takal system’ of merchandising meat products

Whenever the takal system is adopted in a supermarket which previously did not allow it, Litlit discovered that sales immediately increased “by at least 100 percent.”

Observing the success of the SLERS ‘takal system’, big corporations and supermarkets like Makro, Monterey and San Miguel Foods immediately adopted the system with similar results. Now, it is a rare supermarket where frozen meat products in particular, are not merchandised using the ‘takal system’. And it all started with a small, home-based business in Cagayan de Oro run by a lady entrepreneur who ran parallel careers of sibling, daughter, wife, mother and now grandma to her apos.

Besides being recognized as one of “The Ten Outstanding Entrepreneurs of 2008? by Entrepreneur Philippines, Pelaez-Mejia was also recognized by co-presentor Globe Business as its Globe Masigasig Entrepreneur and was featured in the January 2008 issue of Masigasig a special publication for small, medium and micro businesses made by Summit Media for Globe Telecom.

Other Top 10 Outstanding Entrepreneur awardees included Rina Avecilla (Xocolat), Richard Sanz (Food Asia), Mary Grace Arboleda-Young (Cordillera Coffee), Teodoro Ferrer (Generika Drugstore), Rolito Villo (Lolo Tinong’s Bakery), Florante Cruz (BC Net Inc.), Robbie Goco (Cyma), Rolando Liwanag (ICC Celfone) and Marielle Valdez-Fong (Balikbayan Gear).

Without exception, Litlit noted that not one of the awardees, whom she all had the pleasure of meeting personally, was pessimistic about 2009, in contrast to the generally gloomy forecast for business.

“Everybody is excited making plans for 2009 and beyond,” she noted. “There was absolutely no fear expressed by anyone.”

Perhaps that’s because Pelaez-Mejia, like her peers and fellow awardees, all share the quality of being masigasig – “determined, persistent or motivated, with a strong sense of direction in terms of goals to be achieved.”

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