The Entrepreneurial Artisan: Paco Magsaysay, CEO Awards Honoree for Entrepreneurial Excellence

With laser focus on quality, Paco Magsaysay led Carmen’s Best, an artisanal ice cream brand, to become a leader in its industry and a company ready to take on the world.

Paco Magsaysay didn’t aspire to make Carmen’s Best into one of the Philippines’ leading ice cream brands, but that is precisely what happened. Through a single-minded focus on quality, he gradually built the business until others began to take notice. And after many years of hard work, one of those who took interest was Manny Pangilinan’s investment company Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, which purchased 51% of the business for PHP198 million.

The origins of Carmen’s Best are rooted in family. “The story of Carmen’s Best started in 2007 when my father, Jun Magsaysay, together with his friends, acquired land in Bay, Laguna,” Paco Magsaysay relates. “The initial plan in putting up a dairy farm was to participate in the Department of Education’s Milk Feeding program to school kids and offer 100% fresh cow’s milk.”

However, the enterprise didn’t go as planned. “At first, we had trouble selling the fresh milk, as it only had a 7 to 10-day shelf life. So my dad said, ‘Paco, can you help me sell the milk or do something with it?’”

After experimenting with cheese, flavored milk, pastillas, and other products, that something turned out to be ice cream. It was at this moment that the right product aligned with Paco Magsaysay’s passion. There has been no turning back since.

The Business Manual recognizes the achievements of Paco Magsaysay and honors him with the CEO Awards for Entrepreneurial Excellence. Through his recipe of passion and quality, Carmen’s Best has become the choice of ice cream connoisseurs everywhere and a company that is unquestionably on the rise.

The CEO Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence

The CEO Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence is a special category in The Business Manual’s CEO Awards where the website’s editors choose honorees for their entrepreneurial achievements in growing businesses. In partnership with Pharmaton, the award showcases leaders who are one in both body and mind. Each honoree must display outstanding leadership in two categories:

For the “Mind” category, candidates for the CEO position should demonstrate impactful pivot decisions made within the last three years. These individuals must substantiate their capacity for active decision-making, thoughtful analysis, and strategic leadership.

Keen insight and critical decision-making is only half the story. For the “Body” category, candidates should exhibit successful milestones achieved during their tenure through proactive execution and entrepreneurial initiatives.

Paco Magsaysay embodies these ideals through his insistence on tried-and-tested business fundamentals such as commitment to quality. By insightfully finding his market and focusing on not just serving but delighting them, he has propelled Carmen’s Best to success after success.

Recipe for Success

Paco Magsaysay’s recipe for success is simple. “Our quality is what sets us apart,” he reveals. “We make it a point to use only the best ingredients when we create the flavors. We never make shortcuts. And each one of them is made with a distinct character and inspiration.” 

Bestselling flavors like Salted Caramel, Brazilian Coffee, Butter Pecan, and Malted Milk have made the brand popular with food lovers. And with this focus on premium quality, the market of Carmen’s Best also became clear to Paco.

“I already knew I was catering to a certain market,” he says. “If someone was giving me a difficult time with my price, I simply told them to buy another ice cream brand.”

Quality is simply non-negotiable for Paco Magsaysay. The reason? It’s in the brand’s name. He explains: “[My daughter] Carmen was born in 1997 [and] she’s the name of the brand, Carmen’s Best. The fact that it is Carmen’s name, I will never shortchange the quality of the ice cream. I will not cut back on ingredients to save or to earn even a bit of money because that means I am not being true to Carmen.”

This passion and commitment to quality led to steady growth as word spread about Carmen’s Best. Paco says, “We were out to prove our ice cream was second to none… that we could come up with a world-class product.”

No Roadmap

While the recipe for the success of Carmen’s Best is deceptively simple, Paco Magsaysay had no one to emulate, and no company to pattern their business plan after.

“From the start, we never really had a company we could ‘follow,’” he explains. “We are the first local company that has produced premium ice cream for the A & B market segment. There has been no other company to do this besides us. We have always had to blaze our own trail as we had no one we could emulate.”

It has been a long journey for Paco Magsaysay and Carmen’s Best, but the hard work has paid off with a huge partnership with Metro Pacific Investments.

“We were not actively looking for investors. We were looking to grow our business by taking loans and using our cash flow. The idea of taking an investor was not really on the horizon. But when Sir MVP [Manuel V. Paniglinan] reached out to us, we were happy to listen to his proposal.” And in the end, Metro Pacific Investments, Corp took a 51% stake in Carmen’s Best for PHP198 million. Even with the buyout, Paco remains involved in the operations of the company.

“I think the more involved you are in your business, the better it is for the company,” Paco concludes. “This way, the company will have its own character unlike some of the larger companies, which just want to turn a profit.”


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