If you told Johans Juruena that he would be working at SM 12 years after he met its founder, Henry Sy, Sr., he probably wouldn’t have believed you.
The year was 1978, and nine-year-old Johans was looking forward to his annual summer visit to Manila. His childhood summers were filled with memories of spending time at the then Shoemart on Carriedo Street in Quiapo, Manila, where his mother, Erlinda, worked as a saleswoman.
However, there was a special meeting that shaped his future career. That same summer, Johans unexpectedly met shoe store owner Henry, whom SM employees affectionately called Tatang.
Johans said his mother immediately reminded him to pay his respects through pagmamano, a traditional gesture of respect for the elderly that involves touching the forehead with the back of the hand as an act of blessing.
When Tatang visited the store on Carriedo to check out the display and inventory, I happened to be there. I was one of the lucky ones who approached him and paid his respects, he recalls. He was smiling. He said he even held out his hand for me to bless
While observing the store owner, Johans overheard Tatang constantly questioning his employees about customers’ needs. During this short meeting, Johans captured what was most important to Tatang – providing its customers with what they need.
It was 1990 and Johans, fresh out of college, officially became part of SM. He first worked as a salesman for a utility company, interacting with customers every day.
North EDSA is SM’s first shopping mall. In our times, customers lined up as soon as the mall opened before 10:00. Pedestrian traffic in North EDSA is truly something else, says Johans.
His next encounter with Tatang was while manning the men’s footwear department at SM Store North EDSA. Johans clearly remembers Tatang reminding him to keep his sandals and other footwear clean. Thanks to this, customers could better appreciate their products.
It was a simple but important lesson that Johans would carry with him even for decades to come.
Johanss’s experience working at SM is a testament not only to the company’s long-standing commitment to providing superior customer service, but also to Tatang’s enduring legacy. Johans is currently a manager at SM Store Quiapo and people work under him and follow his directions.
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Image Source : malaya.com.ph