Atlas Cebu Corn Mill Corporation
Established in 1967
Tabok, Mandaue City
A STORY OF PERSISTENCE AND REINVENTION
Atlas Cebu Corn Mill’s history has its roots in the persevering efforts of one man: Co Tiao King. As a young Chinese migrant to the Philippines, he was what was in those days called a viajedor- he traversed the islands, trading products from one province to another as demand arose. Armed with a vision and strong determination, he decided to establish a business of his own. After saving enough money for capitalization, he went into partnership with some friends and opened a corn mill near the old Mandaue market. Thus, in 1969, with the full support of his wife Chio Hok Kee and his family, Atlas Cebu Corn Mill Corporation was born.
At the time, Mandaue was considered far and remote. The establishment was the only building structure in the area, surrounded by cogon plants. The mill was a combination of wood and concrete materials.
Locating in Mandaue
Even early on, the founder recognized the practicality and strategic advantage of locating in Mandaue City, especially for his type of business. He saw Mandaue as the gateway to Northern Cebu. He also had one vital piece of information: Northern Cebu predominantly consumes corn grits as a staple. Therefore, by establishing Atlas Cebu Corn Mill in Mandaue, the company effectively established itself closer to its customers.
Over the years, business did well. From the late 1970s to the 1980s, Atlas went on a company record, working and operating the mill for as long as 16 to 24 hours a day. Indeed, business experienced a boom at the time because not only was Cebu Province a corn-consuming region but it also functioned as one of the busiest ports in the entire country.
Addressing Market Shifts
Milling operations experienced multiple shifts. Consumers’ interests changed with the times. Cebu, while having traditionally been a corn-consuming province, experienced a shift in taste to predominantly rice and flour products.
The 1980s proved to be a milestone decade for the company when it decided to diversify its product lines. Ready-milled rice was introduced. The company also increased its product offering and became a distributor of well-known national brands of fertilizer and animal feeds.
Challenges lead to Transformation
In the late 1990s, rising operating expenses in Cebu meant that corn milling was no longer a viable business. Finished products from Mindanao were of better quality and more competitively-priced. Business saw a slump from its operating peak in the 1970s: the milling operations went down to only threeproduction days a week. The Atlas board had to decide to cease milling operations. From then on, Atlas has transformed into purely trading company.
A Leader in Commodities Distribution
The company’s subsequent investments in automation and computer systems ensured that the shift to purely trading operations was efficient and seamless. The focus now became increased business efficiency, excellent customer service and new growth.
Today, the company is known for its strong commodities distribution network especially in Northern Cebu.
After over 40 years of existence, the virtues of its founder–perseverance as well as building strong relationships–are still in place.