Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr. was just 28 years old when he took over the family business, Frabelle Fishing Corporation, as president. However, despite his age, he certainly wasn’t lacking in the skills and knowledge to take the company forward. Francisco had been involved since he was a teenager and became full time when he was aged 20. He started out in the engineering division before moving into sales, and then progressed up the leadership chain.

“I worked hard under my father’s guidance and under the guidance of his key people,” Francisco recalls. “I was able to learn a lot that way.

“Then, each year for five years straight, I would also spend an average of forty-five days at sea on a couple of our fishing vessels. I was at the frontline, connecting with our people, our captains, and our crew. While you are onboard a ship, there is so much machinery and engineering to use and operate, which I gladly helped out with. I learned so much from those experiences.

“Another notable thing that my father did for me for a period of about two years was to send me to Japan regularly. I was there for two weeks at a time, and I was able to undertake training with some of the country’s key fishing and boat businesses. I trained in refrigeration, net manufacturing, engine overhauling, electronics, hydraulics, food manufacturing, shipbuilding, and ship repair. I became competent in so many real-life situations out in the field. I travelled all over Japan and all over Asia to visit factories, see how they were run, and understand what they produced.”

These experiences meant that Francisco was thoroughly familiar with Frabelle’s operations when he succeeded his father as president, and he had developed grand plans for its future. Back then, the business had two divisions in its fishing operation — sardine catching and tuna catching — and it had a small shipyard just for its own boats.