Updated: Mar 8
They were born 170 years apart on opposite sides of the globe, but their success stories both involve an unwavering faith in God, generosity, and toothpaste.
A yielded life
William Colgate was born in Kent, England in 1783 to parents who were farmers. His father's open support for the American colonies' struggle for independence and the French victory against its monarchy earned him the ire of the British government. There was no other recourse for the family but to sail to the United States to start a new life.
The Colgate's settled on a farm in Maryland but soon 21-year-old William moved to New York to apprentice in the soap business which he had started to dabble in four years prior. While there, he was struck with an illness which led to a spiritual realization.
William finally released his long held grudge against the people who forced his family out of England and into financial distress. He recognized that he could not expect forgiveness from God and go to heaven while he denied it.
It was perhaps that event which made him consecrate a life of duty to God. A story is also told that when William started his soap business, he was encouraged by Jacob's vow in Genesis 28: 20-22:
“Jacob vowed a vow, saying, “'If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and clothing to put on, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, and Yahweh will be my God, then this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, will be God’s house. Of all that you will give me I will surely give a tenth to you.'” (WEB)
As advised by a Christian friend, William decided not only to tithe but to give his heart to God, put the Lord "first" in everything, and pray daily for His "will". He became a dedicated follower of Christ and within six years of starting his business became very successful. He increased his tithe and as he did his business grew even more prosperous. It was said that he eventually tithed 90% of his earnings and lived only on the remaining 10%.
In the service of God
Colgate was a dedicated Baptist regularly giving to the Baptist Missionary Union and sponsored a missionary himself. Deacon Colgate (as he is called by church members) and his wife Mary generously opened their house especially to Baptist ministers and workers. He founded the "American and Foreign Bible Society" and supported a school later named Colgate University in recognition of his family's great contributions. He also provided for his elderly parents’ needs and bought them a house in a neighboring county.
When William died in 1857, his son Samuel took the reins of the company. William's legacy of generosity influenced the company strongly throughout the time the family continued their involvement in the business. In 1928, however, the company was sold and became the Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Company. Today, the ethos of helping meet the needs of others is seen in Colgate-Palmolive Company's numerous community programs on health, environment, education, and sports in America and different parts of the world.
From supplier to innovator
Dr. Cecilio Kwok Pedro was successfully manufacturing and supplying aluminum toothpaste tubes to Colgate and Close Up in the Philippines in the 1970s through the early 1980s. Unfortunately, in 1985, the toothpaste companies decided to switch to plastic laminated tubes.
It was a dark moment and Dr. Pedro turned to God and prayed. He pivoted away from financial ruin by taking a bold step going head-to-head against toothpaste giants Colgate and Close Up. He created Hapee toothpaste (together with a Japanese toothpaste maker) under the Lamoiyan Corporation. "Lamoiyan" is the Cantonese name of his grandmother, who was the first Christian in the family.
Today, Hapee is the Philippines' number 1 brand in the kiddie category, while Gumtech, another Lamoiyan toothpaste, is number 1 in gum care toothpastes. The Lamoiyan Corporation has since diversified into oral care, household care, personal care and institutional products for distribution in the Philippines, Asia, Europe, and the United States.
Dr. Pedro's unprecedented success against multinational corporations has not gone unnoticed. His company has been used as a model study in the Harvard Business School. Dr. Pedro has also received numerous awards not only for entrepreneurship but also for his philanthropic efforts.
Blessed to be a blessing
"Dental missions, helping the deaf community and taking care of the environment" are Dr. Pedro's goals in his desire to be a blessing to the community. He has also built schools in poor barrios in the country. Since 1988, Lamoiyan has been sponsoring Filipino sports locally and internationally.
Lamoiyan is also a trailblazer in the employment of persons with disabilities. To date, 30% of the company's employees are deaf. In order to encourage cooperation and harmony, all the employees are required to learn sign language. Dr. Pedro's involvement in the deaf community goes beyond his company. He is the president of the Deaf Evangelical Alliance Foundation (DEAF, Inc.). Through the foundation, many hearing-impaired individuals have studied to be teachers and missionaries sharing God's love to the deaf in Asia.
More than three decades after creating the first Filipino toothpaste, Dr. Pedro is handing the reins to his only son, Joel Conrad Pedro. While his son leads the company to new heights, Dr. Pedro continues to spread God's love and his blessings as he remains in his mission to care for others and make the difference for the glory of God.
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