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Rough Roads Make Better Drivers: Having Gone Through His Own ‘Trial By Fire,’ Frankie Ang Believes a Crisis Should Never Be Wasted

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The Auto Nation Group COO’s love of cars has translated to a determination to see through difficult days.

To say that Frankie was raised around luxury cars is an understatement. He lived and breathed automobiles just as much as his father did at a very young age. 

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“I have so many childhood memories visiting my dad and spending afternoons playing with toy cars in our Greenhills headquarters,” he recalls. “And over the years, as both the business and the building grew, the family business has always felt more than a business. It feels like a part of the family, a part of the memories I have growing up.”

Currently the COO of Auto Nation Group, Ang was well groomed to understand the inner workings of his father’s company. His father would always find little ways he can get involved even when he was still a student. 

“Growing up, my dad always encouraged me to spend time getting to know the family business,” he says. “Even before finishing my studies at Ateneo, he would invite me to participate in business planning sessions and Sales & Marketing events so that I would gain some real-life experience and insight into our business.” 

But even with all the prior training at the company, Frankie tells that it was still a challenge when he finally joined the company officially. 

“Right after college, I joined CATS and went through the various departments from Sales, Aftersales, and Finance. It wasn’t the smoothest of journeys, but I must admit I have learned a lot about our family/business and we have now become closer as a result.” 

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Automotive trends

But taking a look at the wider landscape of the industry, Ang says he delights in seeing and being part of the growth of the local market over his time at work. 

“In the almost 10 years that I have been in the luxury car industry, I’ve seen the sales volumes grow from 2,600 units in 2011 to its peak at 5,080 units a few years ago,” he shares.  

With almost double units sold over the years, he attributes this to the recent diversifying of market behavior through digital means. 

Frankie Ang 2

“The brands in the industry have also seen a more diverse customer base from young digitally savvy  entrepreneurs to the more traditional business leaders,” Ang says. “Because of the diverse customer base, brands have more than doubled the product portfolio—providing so much choice at every price point.” 

When it comes to the behavior and preferences of the local market, Ang thinks that many Filipinos remain loyal to a brand. “It’s quite hard to ask them to try something new. It’s a good thing that the brands we carry make amazing cars!” he says. 

He lists some recent models that have been getting a lot of recent demand. “The most recent range of cars and motorbikes by Mercedes-Benz, Jeep, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Harley-Davidson has been the most desirable and most technologically advanced they have ever been.” 

A specific trend he points out is the rise of SUV purchases, which he shares has grown to more than 50 percent of their sales volume. “The overall popularity and practicality of SUVs will only continue to grow and we’ll see this trend continuing to accelerate over the next few years,” he says. 

Overcoming challenges

Ang remains optimistic that things are getting better and moving away from the effects of the pandemic. 

“My dad always says that when he first opened CATS in 1989, he opened with a bang,” he says. “It was during a bloody coup d’état with police and military from Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame fighting and our Greenhills headquarters literally in between.” 

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If 2020 is the start of the next 30 years of CATS, Ang says that the Coronavirus pandemic is his trial by fire. “There is a saying that you should never waste a crisis and I took that to heart. During the early days of the ECQ lockdown, we took the opportunity to do strategic planning and refocus our attention on building resiliency to our business model,” he shares. 

They realigned their short-term and long-term objective to include investments in everything from social media training to flexible work setups to customer experience. 

For Ang, a meaningful life is “when your passion, purpose, and profession align and give you a true sense of happiness and contentment.” Those elements are all present in the work he does for CATS. 

“At the core of CATS is our personalized interaction and experience with our customers,” he says. “I think it’s fitting that despite the changing economic, business, and technological environment, the core of our strategy still revolves around the same principles that have made us successful all these years.”

The full story on Frankie Ang first came out in the December 2020-January 2021 issue of Lifestyle Asia.

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