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Roble kids help make pa’s ship business grow

First Posted 08:30:00 11/30/2009

Their story is the classic rags to riches.

And Jose Emery ?Joy? Roble attributes the

family?s rise from poverty to old fashion hard work.

His father Jose Roble Jr. was a working student and a porter at the Cebu port for 15 years. Later, he ran his own arrastre business.

From there, he was able to put up Roble Shipping Lines Inc., one of the known shipping firms in Cebu.

?My father was running an arastre business before he bought a ship which he used to start a cargo shipping business on Feb. 20, 1985,? said Joy Roble who is now president and chief operations officer of the shipping lines.

Their first cargo ship was MV Marao, a small ship which could carry less than a hundred tons.

?That ship transports rice from Iloilo and carries mixed cargo from Cebu back to Iloilo.?

Roble recalled that when their father started the business, they were still in elementary and did not know how Jose was able to steer the company, which he said eventually made life better for the family.

?Our dad is a native of Davao while my mom is from Hilongos, Leyte. Both came from poor families. Because of the business, life changed about a 180 degrees,? he said.

All of them now work for the family-owned company occupying important positions. Their father Jose died last Sept. 11 at age 62.

?There are seven of us, five boys and two girls, and we have all decided to work for the company and achieve more as what our father should have wanted us to do,? Roble said.

To date, Roble Shipping Inc. has seven passenger ships, five of which are roll-on-roll-off vessels, and 10 cargo ships, which included four barges and tugboats.

Their latest ships are Don Serafin, a cargo vessel, and Blessed Stars, a passenger vessel, which they acquired this year.

The company started with P200,000 in capital, which has ballooned to P100 million.

?Four years ago, we only had P34 million in capitalization but now we have grown larger,? Roble said.

The company has also been recognized ?a total of five awards, includng the latest they received from the Maritime Industry Authority in Central Visayas (Marina-7).

Roble Shipping has received Marina awards for Safe Travel, Excellence and Responsible Service, for the Ferry Domestic Shipping Company category in the 2008 MASTERS.

Roble said their award was in recognition to the company effort to give the best quality customer service, which has given them an edge over other shipping companies.

?We have good people with good management and guidance and if you check our vessels, you can see stickers with contact numbers of people to contact, including me, for any complaints or even suggestions on how we can improve our service,? Roble said.

He said that they have also inculcated a system of process in their operations.

?If an issue can be settled at the lower level, then it is solved there at that level. That way people at the top can have more time for bigger concerns,? he said.

Roble said this system has developed responsible and disciplined crewmen, who knew that the customers have direct access to the owners.

?As much as possible, we want to have transparency with our customers. That's why we adopted that system,? Roble said.

Crew members also undergo proper training on house rules and regulations including maintaining cleanliness with an emphasis on customer satisfaction.

Of course for a growing company, Roble admitted they have had many challenges in the past such as fuel prices.

As a company highly dependent on fuel, prices hikes really affect operations. To solve this, they have installed equipment in their vessels that can convert bunker fuel to what is needed by the engine and also equipment that can increase fuel efficiency.

Roble also believes in the divine intervention and the power of prayer.

?Dili jud na makuha sa uban. Ang support sa prayer which we consider something nga makatabang jud,? he said.

Roble said they have chapels in their four passenger vessels so that people can go and offer a prayer and at times they also Mass during Sunday trips like in their Wonderful Star which travels to Ormoc City, Leyte.

Roble Shipping Inc. is implementing the highest safety standards in its vessels to counter the negative impression caused by several industry accidents. These accidents have not at all affected sales and growth, Roble said.

In 2010, Roble Shipping Inc. will also be relocating to its new and permanent home in the North Reclamation Area, ?that area between Gothong and Petron,? Roble shared.

The new office shall be their headquarters which will house all operations of the company.

From a company that only started with 20 employees headed by a single person, the family patriarch, Roble Shipping Inc.'s manpower has grown to more than 400 people, excluding those contractual employees.

Roble Shipping Inc. is a true to life ?from rags to riches? story of people who we don't only find in a fairytale storybook we read to our kids at home.

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