Jay Y. Yuvallos did just that.
The self-made businessman grew up in Cebu City, the seventh of ten children. It was a difficult time for them; his siblings had to stay with relatives because his parents couldn’t afford to raise the large family alone.
Yuvallos studied in the City Central School for his elementary years, then Cebu Christian School, and Southwestern University for high school.
He graduated with an accounting degree in 1985 from the University of San Carlos.
“As a child I dreamed of becoming a lawyer but because we had a difficult life then, we couldn’t afford that,” said Yuvallos.
In college, Yuvallos worked on the sidelines, joining his elder brothers in their subcontracting business for export companies.
“It was a small family business with most of us siblings sharing roles. I was helping with marketing then production and doing many other roles.”
He brought his first car, a second-hand model, a day before his 25th birthday. At 30, he was running his own company.
In 1992, Yuvallos put up Basic Interiors, a subcontractor for carcass carpentry.
“I did not have a single centavo in my pocket. I relied mostly on credit. Luckily there were people who trusted in me and loaned me raw materials and other things I needed to start my company,” he said.
With his experience in subcontracting, the company prospered. In 1994, he found a big-time buyer for stone inlays and started exporting directly.
In 1996, Yuvallos changed the company’s name.
“From Basic Interiors, my company was renamed Interior Basics Export Corp. The transition from just being a subcontractor to a direct exporter was challenging but because of the help of many people and my loyal workers, we were able to make it,” he said.
Yuvallos said many challenges came his way so he also invested in other enterprises like health care services, retail and importing.
YZ Global Resources Inc., which trades imported rack systems and shelving from the United States was formed four years ago. It has subsidiary brands like U-Value, which provides specific solutions to clients with different requirements for renovation.
Aside from that, Yuvallos invested in Prime Care, a health care services company, and Infinite Horizons, a retailer of high-end fashion brands like Charles and Keith.
“I realized later that retailing was not my forte because it was not my interest,” Yuvallos said.
He said he and his wife had simple tastes so they let go of the business of selling high-end brand goods.
Yuvallos said he was also spreading himself thinly among several enterprises, which made it difficult to manage.
“Now my focus is doing what I’m good at and assigning tasks to those who are better at them. I’m more about being a responsible employer, making sure that all my employees’ needs are taken care of, like having a stable job,” Yuvallos said.
At present, he has 300 employees, whose families depend on the growth of their companies for their needs.
In the family, Yuvallos said he looks up to his father for his patience and his mother for always seeing the good in people.
He admires the strength of his aunt who supported him and his siblings while they were growing up.
“I can’t say that I achieved this much by myself. There are so many nameless people who helped me along the way and I would like to be a helping hand for anyone who, like me, wants to reach a destination,” he said.
As his way of “giving back” Yuvallos is an active member in the Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the East Asia Business Council.
Last February, President President Benigno Aquino III appointed the Cebuano entrepreneur as one of three representatives to the Asean Business Advisory Council (ABAC), along with SM Group’s Teresita Sy-Coson and PLDT’s Manuel Pangilinan.
“These roles often entail a lot of traveling but because I enjoy the idea that this is one good way to help industries in Cebu, I really don’t mind having to go to Manila often for meetings,” Yuvallos said.