But he soon found out that success at school did not exactly translate to success in business.
In 1983, he founded Jaybuilders Industries, Inc. (formerly known as Cagayan Iron Works). In 2005, he undertook a joint venture with Philmetal Products, Inc. to establish North Mindanao Steel Corporation (now Premier Shelter, Inc.).
His first two ventures were pretty straight forward, being blessed with moderate success. But it was when he founded Priometal Mindanao Corporation in 2011 that the real struggle started.
Inspired by legendary Apple innovator Steve Jobs, PMC aimed “To promote and provide innovative building frames and functions technology that is cost efficient for every Juan.”
“I am making it SIMPLER, FASTER TO COMPLETE and MORE COST-EFFICIENT,” he explained during a recent series of presentations held for industry stakeholders at the firm’s demo unit in Kauswagan.
“If you have P1-million budget for a certain building project, would you choose a building technology that would cost P600,000 for materials and P400,000 for labor? Or one that would cost P400,000 in materials and P600,000 for labor?”
Co explained he would opt for a building technology that has cheaper labor because it would mean it took faster to complete, and faster would also mean lesser overhead, and make the building earn earlier.
He said the BahaiCO, Bahay Mo system is anchored on existing technologies that can be combined so that it becomes stronger, more durable, faster to complete, safer, yet more affordable than existing designs and concepts now offered in the Philippine construction industry.
Using as a benchmark the 8-unit Bachelor’s Pad where the system’s launching was held January 16-20, Co said the BahaiCO Bahay Mo system resulted in 22% savings in total cost compared to a conventional concrete building (P19.5K vs P25k/sq.m.)
The savings were realized due to cheaper material and labor costs on top of taking a faster time to complete.
“BahaiCO Bahay Mo uses minimal form and shoring works, and no wooden scaffoldings. Our iCO Meta Purlin are pre-cut, pre-fabricated and pre-labeled in our plant resulting in zero waste.”
Its 22 columns only took 3 days to erect, and the complete assembly of the 8-unit frames and purlins only four weeks to complete.
Thus, the whole building would be finished in only six months, compared to at least eight months for conventional ones. That ‘s two months saved, and by itself already a two month advantage in rental earnings.
“I believe we have already achieved our goal to provide ‘a better home every Juan deserves’. But just like all stories of a successful innovation, it is indeed a long story of so many, many failures,” Co shared.
From the time PMC started in 2011 to the last quarter of 2017, Co said they experienced an 80 percent failure rate in their projects
“My construction projects were not earning, and our sales were on survival mode,” he recalls. “I had really many days of sleepless nights, and I lost weight because I lost my desire to eat.”
Worse, their financial resources were depleted and they had to dispose of many properties just to stay afloat.
“And the most painful part of that was I almost didn’t believe in myself anymore,” he said. “That’s why I was strongly considering giving it all up in 2017.”
But he kept his faith and prayed at the Cawayanon church to ask for God’s guidance. And his prayers were answered!
“He sent me a few good men and women who encouraged me to continue and not give up. He also gifted me with loyal key people who never thought of abandoning me, even though that the salaries for their family were at stake.”
“On top of that, PMC was blessed with reputable suppliers that complemented our BahaiCO, Bahay Mo and shared our mission of providing a better home every Juan deserves.”
PMC’s fortunes improved in 2018 with their iCO products now being recognized in Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon, Iligan, Butuan, Misamis Occidental and even as far as Dipolog and Ipil.
Nonetheless, many challenges remain.
“BahaiCO, Bahay Mo is not a claim to fame or a declaration of perfection, but with many open-ended questions to industry stakeholders: Will it be acceptable to the common Filipino mind set which still believes that all buildings should be made of concrete? Can houses be made even faster? For relocation projects for victims of natural or man-made disasters? How can we hire more skilled workers when their existing welding and carpentry skills don’t jibe with our building system?
BahaiCO, BahayMo is not a one shot achievement but just a step towards the pursuit of our ultimate MISSION.
“Someday we might finally realize that perfect building technology and claim that we are victorious! Because we have finally achieved our mission to provide… "THE BEST HOME EVERY JUAN REALLY DESERVES!" May God bless us all and the future of our journey together.”