When Jose “Joe” Magsaysay Jr. returned to Potato Corner following the death of his managing partner in 2000, the company was still reeling from the 1998 Asian financial crisis.

He briefly left the company in 1997 to try his luck in being a politician but lost. When he returned to the french fries business, he presented a new business plan to his partners: the franchising business model.

“Because of franchising we are here today. It’s just like going public where you use other people’s money to grow your business. In fact, I call our company a ‘public company’ because 75% of our stores are franchised,” he told Cathy Yang on The Boss.

They currently have 550 kiosks around the world. In other countries, they have adapted to the flavors the customers are accustomed to—spicier flavors in Indonesia and cinnamon flavor and chicken wings in the USA.

As they hit the 25-year mark in 2017, they will also be introducing a “no cash-out” model, which he explained to be more of a partnership than a franchise, where they will provide capital for the franchise and you will share the monthly profit.

On mentorship and succession

Magsaysay has long been immersed in the food business with a vast experience in leading different food chains. But he partly attributes his business know-how to Wendy’s Titoy Pardo, his most influential mentor.

He was still employed by Wendy’s when he started Potato Corner and he recalled how Pardo forced him to focus on his business start-up.

“He just made it so sweet, for example just gave me a choice, but I knew he just made it easier for me to leave. So [when he made me choose] I said ‘Potato Corner’ because if I said Wendy’s, he would have fired me then. Then he just gave me his blessing, said ‘be careful,’ gave me some tips, and shook my hand.”

Succession plan

Magsaysay has three sons and he would rather let them find their own path. He even prohibited them from joining the company management. His successor will be someone who is not an owner of the business.

And what will Magsaysay tell Potato Corner’s next boss?

“Sometimes you have to change a strategic plan and you have to be very flexible in that,” he said.