Destileria Limtuaco & Co., Inc. is an institution with 165 years of history and heritage. It’s entrepreneurial legacy has allowed the company to stay in the Limpe family’s hands for five generations now and preparing for a generational transition to the 6th generation.
Defintiely a no mean feat considering the statistics on family business survival. According to The Family Firm Institute, only about 30 percent of family and businesses survive into the second generation, 12 percent are still viable into the third generation, and only about 3 percent of all family businesses operate into the fourth generation or beyond.
So how did Destileria Limtuaco keep the entrepreneurial fire burning throughout five generations?
In a November 20, 2015 Wall Street Journal article titled “How to Keep a Family Business Alive for Generations," Dr. Peter Jaskiewicz and Dr. James Combs share five factors that distinguish the very entrepreneurial families form the ones that followed a well-trodden path. One factor is that “They pass along family history. The innovative families have what we call an 'Entrepreneurial Legacy' that is passed from each generation to the next: a narrative about the family’s achievements and how it survived tough times...”
This is something Destileria Limtuaco & Co., Inc. has practiced throughout generations. But they wanted to go beyond informal oral storytelling which relied mostly on memory, some records, photos, and artifacts. Thus, they created the Destileria Limtuaco Museum, to accurately preserve and convey its company history, as well as to honor and pay tribute to its generational leaders through showcasing their life’s work, challenges, and achievements here. For without its ancestors hard work and dedication to the company, Destilieria Limtuaco will not be what it is today.
It took them almost forty years to put the museum together, starting in 1979 when the late Julius T. Limpe bought this bahay na bato to house the Limtuaco museum. As the fourth generation leader, he was responsible for the design and interiors of it, as well as the replica of the distillation still and the big wooden tank. He compiled the old pictures of the three generations before him and catalogued important company records and files. The process came to halt in 1989 after the company experienced a wildcat strike and suffered heavy losses as a consequence.
It was to be revived some fifteen years later by his daughter, Olivia Limpe-Aw, fifth generation CEO. “I didn’t want the museum to be a white elephant knowing how important it was to my father. So I picked up where he left off,” says Limpe-Aw.
She quickly realized it was a daunting task, stopping for long periods when she got stuck with something or ran into a blank wall. Olivia got the sixth generation, particularly her second son Aaron Limpe-Aw involved in the project and more changes were introduced. “At times, it was as if the project would never come to fruition but encouragement from people who have seen the museum via private tour like Carlos Celdran and Carlos Madrid of Insituto Cervantes and the very progressive and action man Intramuros Admnistrator, Atty Guiller Asido made the company and our hardworking and passionate project team, led by myson Aaron, work double time to make this a reality, “says Limpe-Aw.
“Barely a month before opening, divine intervention was at play when we met contemporary artist and independent curator, Marika Constantino upon the introduction of writer Regina Abuyuan. She helped us improve our narrative and put in the necessary finishing touches that will make a museum guest’s visit, a fun and memorable experience,” she added.
Museum visitors can now learn, discover, and experience things they didn’t’ know about the company, its products, and even the liquor industry. Also included is an optional tasting program at the end of the tour.
The company also aims to build and strengthen its brands by introducing them to tourists, with the hope of exporting its proudly-pinoy products to more countries.