Leading paper manufacturer adapts to online learning, amid pandemic
For paper manufacturers and distributors, the red flag was slowly hoisted as the world, in general, was moving towards the so-called paper-less society on digital platforms.
The pandemic however increased the pace a hundredfold, forcing among others, most academic institutions to implement distance or online learning, the worst nightmare of an enterprise selling paper pads and notebooks.
Thus, the demand for laptops and computers skyrocketed, leaving the traditional color-coded notebooks obsolete for the current school year.
For VECO Paper Corp., meanwhile, it was an opportune time to put in place game-changing strategies and keep up with the technological adoption in the education sector.
Like many businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, dependable and flexible financing became a necessity to enable them to immediately shift their business focus. Fortunately for them, they have developed strong relationships with their bank partners.
Mr. Victor Lim has been at the helm of VECO Paper Corp as President and CEO for over 40 years. VECO Paper continues to be one the leading manufacturers of paper products in the Philippines and has become a household name in schools and office supplies.
“During the lockdown, everything stood still. We worked closely RCBC, to extend the terms of our credit facility to ensure our business continues to operate while we navigate this new normal,” VECO Paper President Victor Lim said.
Lim admitted that online study process has forced some changes to help the company move forward as he was expecting students to all go paperless and many have turned to tablets and notebook computers.
The shift to online learning resulted in a mass production of A4 copy papers which were used for printing of study modules. These offset printers, located at the manufacturing plant in Muntinlupa, continue to produce paper products such as notebooks, pads, and specialty papers which are still in demand in the “new normal”.
When VECO Paper learned that study modules or the printed learning materials were required for students who could participate in online class, Lim realized that that was the key to sustaining the company during the pandemic.
The business was able to offset its lost sales in notebooks through its A4 copy papers, which were used for the printing of study modules. They immediately sold out their six-month inventory which required them to rush orders from their suppliers abroad.
VECO Paper ensures a full inventory of its best seller products which include math notebooks, sketch pads, photo papers and other office supplies, amid the shift to online learning.
Aside from that, VECO also added a new department in charge of online selling. The company also invested in the logistics to make speedy deliveries to their distribution partners anywhere in the Philippines.
“We anticipated online selling to be the future new normal. Our online business is growing around 10 percent every month so we are also adding other branded products to our online business such as other office supplies,” Lim said.
Lim added that the flexibility given by RCBC afforded them to implement these strategies that will help the business recover and move forward.
For almost 40 years in the business, VECO Paper has been known for its quality papers, the result of continuous innovation and participation in exhibits in Japan and Europe.
Some of its best-sellers include math notebooks, sketch pads, photo papers, copy papers, and other office supplies, among others.
Moreover, the paper company head underscored the importance of their bank, RCBC, when the pandemic struck.
Lim mentioned that the Yuchengco-led bank has been providing them loans that helped expand the business over the years.
“We are selling nationwide that’s why we really need some bank support for the loans and the trust to make our company running. Every year we have grown about 10 to 15 percent in terms of sales volume,” he said.
“We had a lot of meetings with them on how to tackle this pandemic problem. We expect the pandemic hitting us if we don’t do anything to correct it,” he said.
Lim mentioned that RCBC allowed them to extend their short-term loans to long-term, allowing them more flexibility in business recovery.
“The perfect partner is the one sticking with us through thick and thin, through a crisis to a non-crisis situation. We are very happy with the strong partnership with the RCBC team,” he added.
“The group always said they are just a phone call away.”