“Yung talent mo, tama ng puhunan sa pagnenegosyo mo,” (Your skill is enough capital to start a business) was what a brother (priest) from Don Bosco told Chris Pingol’s grandfather Mamerto Pingol, when the latter was having apprehension over how to get started in the business of metalcraft that largely produces church-related products.
Thus, was his motivation to put up a metalcraft business which manufactured the censer used in the religious incense of Pope Francis’ masses in Tacloban, Luneta and University of Sto. Tomas.
It’s the same company which manufactured the trophies used at the Philippine Football Peace Cup in 2014 participated in by the Azkals and three other nations.
Mamerto Pingol was a production supervisor at a metalcrafts shop inside the Don Bosco Mandaluyong Technical College. The shop closed in 1985.
Upon the encouragement of the Don Bosco brothers, Pingol ventured in metalcrafts armed with the necessary know-how. He initially invested P 5,000 and relied on payment deposits from customers, most of whom were referred to him by the brothers. The senior Pingol used to do the crafts at home, by himself, until he encouraged his brother and children to help him.
Christopher R. Pingol, or Chris, is the grandson of Mamerto. He took over the business when his father passed away in 2000. Chris was then familiar with production having worked in Fujitsu Die-tech. The first thing he did when he took over was to look into the idea of using scrap material. His grandfather used to throw or sell scraps, but Chris learned during his stint at Fujitsu that scrap materials should be recycled.
The younger Pingol then searched the Internet. His search led him to the Metals Industry Research and Technology Center (MIRDC) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). He visited the MIRDC and learned about casting which has been one of MIRDC’s services. The agency taught him how the scraps can be transformed into other products by undergoing a casting technology process.
Casting is a common metal’s technique which is also available in several private companies. But what sets MIRDC apart, according to Chris, is this:
“Sa mga pribadong kumpanya, kung ano lang pinagawa mo, yun lang yun. Sa MIRDC, kung may item ka halimbawa, tutulungan ka nila talaga [kung] paano mo mapaganda pa yung produkto mo (In private companies, they’ll only do what you ask them to. In MIRDC, they go beyond what you ask, and would readily help you improve your product further).”
Chris has been a client of MIRDC since 2000 and he credits the Center for making his products look “imported.” They are now capable of coming out with products that involve more intricate designs, with more aesthetic value.
”Before we came to know of the casting technology of MIRDC, our products were mostly hammer-finished,” Chris said.
“Ngayon may 3-D look na ang produktong nagagawa namin, hindi na tulad nung de-pukpok pa kami. Sa de pukpok, hindi pwede ang sculpture-like designs,” (Now our products have this 3-D look, unlike in the past when we’re doing things manually, we cannot get that sculpture-like finish),” he added.
Chris also attended MIRDC’s training seminar on plating (non-cyanide gold plating) and he has been using their library as well to research on other ways to improve their products.
From a small business manned by family members, Mamerto Pingol Metal Crafts now has about 40 employees. They have their manufacturing shop in Malabon and a display area in Sta. Cruz, Manila. Peak seasons are during Holy Week, Christmas, and fiestas. During the remaining lean months, the staff do the stocks. To his knowledge, there are only two others engaged in the same business nationwide.
Aside from church products, Mamerto Pingol Metal Crafts also manufactures plates, medals, trophies and interior design. They’ve done products for the United States, Guam, China and Brazil and they hope to gain more orders from abroad in the future. Chris believes that product expansion is a must in any business. Hence, they are now trying to develop urns to add to their portfolio of church supplies.
Government’s tech support
MIRDC’s metal casting services began in 1975. It has helped several companies, largely in their product improvements. Among them are Mamerto Pingol Metal Crafts Manufacturing; Shooters, Guns and Ammunition Incorporated; Enrod Copper Decor; SEACOM; and Mechapil.
MIRDC has been servicing 10 to 15 customers per year, on average, in the last five years. There are 18 personnel handling casting services at the Process Research Section (PRS) of the Materials and Process Research Division, most of whom have been with MIRDC for 20 to 35 years. This is a highly skilled group who can share their skills with entrepreneurs needing their assistance in product development.
“While there are private outfits which provide the same kind of service as we do, especially in the area of conventional casting, a number of industries still prefer MIRDC because we have a track record in providing better service in terms of better surface finish, right dimension and almost zero defects,” Engr. Florentino Lafuente, PRS supervisor, said.
MIRDC now focuses on contract or developmental research, which is product development. The mass production is usually contracted out to the private sector by their customers, who are composed of artists, suppliers, middlemen and others.
Juanito “Boy” G. Mallari, a metals technologist at the MIRDC said that the work at the foundry (conventional and investment casting) can be both difficult and hazardous. He said that those involved in this kind of work must wear safety apparel and must be fully trained.
The challenge for Mallari is the variety of casting jobs they do, especially in investment casting, which are often interesting and encourage one to come up with his/her own idea or technique that does not require high-tech machines.
“For me the reward is when my boss or customers appreciate and gain satisfaction from my work,” Mallari said. (By Geraldine Bulaon-Ducusin, S&T Media Service)
Chris Pingol of Pingol Metal Crafts
Finished product (above) after molding.
Some other finished products from the metal casting process
MIRDC Metals Technologist Juanito G. Mallari works during the mold and die making phase.
Ceramic mold making
Fettling (Photos by Henry A. de Leon/S&T Media Service, DOST-STII)