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King of Charcoal

When Jacobi is expanding, we will expand together

Eliseo Ortega Jr. runs King’s Cocoshell Charcoal Corporation, which is one of Jacobis’ main coconut charcoal suppliers. But not many people call him Eliseo; in the Philippines, he is simply called King.

King, we like your name and the name of your company, where does it come from?
– King comes from my nickname growing up. My mother called me King, which is why I named the company King’s Cocoshell Charcoal Corporation. My schoolmates called me Eliseo, but my mother and brother always called me King.

King in his warehouse, checking the quality and dryness of the charcoal.

How did you start the business, and when?

– The business started in 2011 when I visited a coconut farm where I saw a lot of coconut shells wasted. And I was thinking, maybe I can do business with these shells. I started the company when Jacobi was established in the Philippines. You could say that I started it with Jacobi; they were my first client and are my only client still.

Isn’t that a risk to the business having Jacobi as the only client?

– No, I never think like that. Yes, there are many suppliers here in the Philippines, and there are other companies to sell to, but I must protect the relationship with Jacobi, being loyal and being able to deliver on their needs. The trust is there.

What are the key factors for a successful business, in your opinion?

– I think that trust comes from the basics, that you can deliver what’s needed, on time, with good quality, but the key factor is having a good relationship. The business must be functional, but you must also feel for the company you work with, which goes both ways.

Mark Cutten, Vice President Manufacturing at Jacobi, and King at the Philippines factory office.

What are your plans for the future of the business?

– We are planning to expand with additional facilities because when Jacobi is expanding in the Philippines, we will expand together.

You must be quite a well-known person, does everyone know about King?

– Yes, probably, haha.

What do the deliveries look like? Does Jacobi buy everything you can sell?

– It’s situational. Sometimes they need more, and we deliver. During these ten years, we have always provided on their demands. Even during the pandemic, Jacobi has not had to experience any scarcity of raw materials. I have a coconut plantation that we acquired already at the time we started the business with Jacobi, but I also buy a lot of charcoal from the market.

What was it like for your company to operate during the pandemic?

– It was hard sometimes; you had to be innovative in how to get raw materials. There were many obstacles and lockdowns everywhere, but with the right planning and decisive decisions, we could deliver the volumes Jacobi needed.

King with his wife Christine and their three daughters.

Do you enjoy being in the charcoal business?

– Yes, I enjoy it so much. It's true as they say, that the coconut is the tree of life. And here in the Philippines, we call it black gold charcoal.

Does your mother still call you King?

– Yes, she does. When we meet, I’m not Eliseo, I’m King.

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