Jardine Schindler Elevator Corporation has been safely moving people and products with its world-class elevators and escalators for more than fifty years. The business began when Swiss-born Schindler Group joined forces with Hong Kong’s Jardine Matheson, which resulted in a dynamic synergy of business management expertise, regional specialisation, and engineering excellence. Today its Filipino operations has six strategic offices — located in Manila, Baguio, Cebu, Angeles, Iloilo, and Davao — to serve the needs of a variety of businesses. It is continuing to go from strength to strength with Jess Palma III at the helm.
Jess is the General Manager of Jardine Schindler Group’s operations in the Philippines, a role he has held for the past year and a half. A chartered accountant by trade, he started his career in the cement industry with the wholesaler Holcim, which at the time was the biggest player in the world.
He initially worked as an auditor before moving up the ranks to eventually become the Head of Financial Planning and Business Risk Management for Holcim Philippines. In 2008, he left and joined United Cement Company of Nigeria as the CFO. “I was assigned to Africa to set up a Greenfield cement plant,” Jess recalls. “It was an US$800 million project for a development in Nigeria. Once that was completed I left and decided to take on a new challenge. I joined Jardine Schindler’s operations in the Philippines in its finance department.”
Setting a struggling company straight
After three years as the Finance Director, Jess was appointed to General Manager of Jardine Schindler in the Philippines. That was in March 2015, and from there he went about improving the clientele’s perception of the company and growing its operations. “When I initially joined in 2010 the organisation was not in the best position,” Jess says.
“It was struggling in the Filipino market and it was not a big player for a number of reasons. Then, fortunately during that time, some new products were introduced and we started selling lots of them. We have now managed to achieve an excellent market position in terms of our order intake and we are growing quickly.”
Now Jess’ main area of focus is to protect customer excellence and expand further within the region.
“Customer excellence is a very big issue in this industry, considering an elevator or escalator is a very personal product for our customers,” he explains. “Our products are always being decided by the owners of the buildings, not by everybody, so for us to have a very strong focus on customer excellence is a big differentiator. That is how we stand out from our competition. To monitor customer excellence we have a survey process — we follow the Net Promoter Score — and we ensure we have constant feedback from customers.
If there are some complaints or areas for improvement, we make sure this is embedded into our own system.
‘The Philippines is a growing nation’
“My second area of focus is on expansion. The Philippines is a growing nation, so there are a lot of opportunities for us here. We want to be close to our customers so wherever our customers are that’s where we are making sure we have the right infrastructure in place to serve their requirements.”
The ultimate goal for Jardine Schindler is to become the best one-stop elevator solutions provider, and it is certainly on track to achieving that. Jess says he wants his customers to be worry-free when they come to a Jardine Schindler branch for a product or service, starting from the design right through to the installation and maintenance of an elevator or escalator.
“We are the experts on the product,” he states. “Customers can talk directly to us and we can provide them with everything they need. That makes life easier, and it also makes the process a lot quicker because we have all the information on the products at our immediate disposal. We also eliminate the inconsistencies that can often occur in this industry, and thus we address the appropriate safety requirements.”
Jess knows Jardine Schindler relies on the support of a talented workforce as well as efficient, loyal supply-chain partners. To ensure this, the business invests heavily in the training and development of its staff; to grow and improve their skills so they can deliver more to the customer in the safest possible manner. The business has also set up a training centre and its master trainers have a broad knowledge based on what they have learned from their global counterparts within the Jardine Schindler Group. The technicians undergo a certification program that must be completed within twelve months, and the after-market team undergoes four levels of certification and assessment that is completed periodically.
Customers can talk directly to us and we can provide them with everything they need. That makes life easier.
In terms of future capacity planning, Jardine Schindler has also partnered with Don Basco Technical Institute, the biggest school of its kind in the country, to deliver an apprenticeship program. This will ensure a continuous pipeline of skilled people and will help to grow the business now and in the future.
Jess says he is proud to be at the helm of Jardine Schindler in the Philippines; to be delivering value to shareholders and to be playing a role in the company’s growth.
“Working with the team here is very fulfilling and it’s great to see how far we have come,” he shares. “We are already one of the largest players in the Filipino market and we will be the number one player by 2020. We’re seeing lots of new orders coming in and we’re surrounded by very good people. I’m really excited to contribute further to the organisation, to see it grow, and to be a part of its journey.”