MANILA, OCTOBER 19, 2011 (TIMES) Written by : KIM BERNARDO-LOKIN SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR - (PHOTO - David Lim President and chief executive officer, Solid Group Inc.

THE man behind the phenomenal growth of My/Phone deserves his name.

Just like his biblical namesake, David Lim fights with the giants. He may not have “slain” his competitors, but he catapulted his company to the top through his unconventional ways.

His mother, Elena, was known to have told her son: “Maybe that’s why you are David because you always competed with the giants.”

Lim, the President and Chief Executive Officer of publicly listed firm Solid Group Inc. is not the “usual” CEO. This man, tasked to head and steer a company that has been in existence for more than half a century, is so unassuming and simple in his ways. He favors casual outfits, and is often seen eating garlic rice, egg and giniling (ground pork) for breakfast. He came for the interview holding a recycled plastic bag.

For someone who is never at a loss for words, one will be surprised to learn that Lim shuns interviews and is painfully shy at being photographed. But mention the word “My/Phone” and his eyes instantly sparkle.

My/Phone is SGI’s “crown”, David’s victory against the “giants.” Now, SGI and David are known as the entities behind the hugely successful first “Filipino” mobile phone that offers a dual SIM—My/Phone.

Before it became Solid Group Inc., Lim’s company was named United Paracale Mining Co., and was incorporated on October 9, 1933. The name change happened in June 1996.The company, through the able leadership of David’s mother Elena, became the exclusive distributor of Japan’s Sony.

SGI, through its subsidiaries, is presently engaged in various businesses including a cable television and its broadband arm, real estate and the distribution and sale of their number one product—My/Phone.

To sell more television, SGI launched Destiny Cable. David said that they were the first to introduce the “bundle packages” where a subscriber can get a free TV set. In 2005, his father owned a company that manufactures mobile phones in China called “Amoy Solid.” His father asked David’s younger brother Jason to help sell it because he was the “techie” in the family.

However, David said nobody wanted an Amoy Solid phone. “Just from the way it sounds, nobody wanted it,” he said with a chuckle. But soon he realized that these phones had dual sim. He told his father he would market the phone but they had to change the name. So they came out with the My/Phone.

At that time, a lot of people thought he was crazy. To change the mindset of the company and the people behind it, David rearranged the whole company.

“I removed physical office barriers and individual rooms. The whole company protested, except I had the full backing of my mom. I also told them we are at war, and we cannot become complacent.”

And so, the company launched My/Phone in September 2007. At the end of the launch, he only had 13 customers.

Today, they sell more than 200,000 phones a month, making My/Phone one of the best success stories of this generation. David says apart from quality and affordability, part of My/Phone’s success probably lies in the fact that “we have tried to make it into a truly Filipino symbol of good values and tradition as a people.” Next year, My/Phone will be ready to go public.

These days, David is again busy with a new venture—a housing project that he plans to call MyRainbow Place. For this he is partnering with Chinese firm Yahgee Modular House Co. Ltd., a world leader in modular building technology. He plans to launch this venture, which he said will revolutionize the way house are priced and built, in January next year.

David said that people who will avail themselves of this project will experience that “exclusive living in a hotel feeling, but with a radically affordable price.” Like before, David will again challenge the mindset of many since he will be using metal instead of cement for this housing project.

For David, success means more than being at the top of one’s game. It is challenging the norms until you achieve something better. It also means “finding a product that epitomizes the true heart of the Filipino, and hoping that our people will treasure the products for what they truly stand for.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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