Story of Lesterkim and Janette Aguilar
Lesterkim Aguilar, son of a banana plantation owner in Tagum City, Davao del Norte and his wife Janette, decided to purchase a parcel of the banana plantation owned by Kim’s father who engaged in the export of Cavendish bananas. With proceeds, the couple started an internet shop and later, a franchise from Waffle Time, opening food shop inTagum City that grew to four other outlets. But the couple had other plans.
In 2011, they signed a 10-year leasehold on a 300-square-meter property for a gas station project. They entered into a PhP3 million contract with Petron that provided dispensers, underground tank and signage. They used income from their waffle outlets and a PhP1.5 million bank loan as capital for building construction, security deposit and equipment. The station provided jobs for two cashiers, four pump attendants and a security guard. In its first year, the station netted PhP90,000 per day from sales.
The Aguilars opened a second gas station as an individual player in 2014 with PhP7 million. They hired three cashiers, two security guards, 10 pump attendants and Kim’s sister as manager. The station earned PhP220,000 daily. When competition stiffened, Kim and Janet used a coupon rewards system to win customer loyalty.
But then, challenges came. In 2015, a friend bought fuel from the couple at discount and sold this in bottles peddled by motorcycle owners to remote villages, at a loss. A series of price rollbacks kept them from raising prices and they ended up owing suppliers PhP13 million. Too engrossed in business, they seldom saw their children and neglecting prayer habits. Phone calls made them nervous, thinking this could be suppliers demanding payment.
Hope came when a friend told Kim about a CCT fellowship group that met nearby. He decided to check this out and found that attending Bible studies as members of the CCT Credit Cooperative was something he and Janette sorely needed. They found comfort in discipleship. With business loans, they were able to pay suppliers and recover. They started a “church in the home” now closely attended by 50 members. In 2016, Kim formed a fellowship group for his workers at Petrollo. The couple’s spirituality grew exponentially. With the end of their Petron contract in sight, the couple plans to run another gas station independently. They hope to open a bakery or convenience store to create jobs for the needy, especially those with some education but could not land jobs.