A full hour before her employees punch in at 7am, she is already in her office, sipping coffee and going through the list of tasks that she prepared the night before.
As someone who has worked tirelessly to establish LeatherDhey Enterprises, one of the country’s top automotive leather upholstery groups that services cars and airplanes, Ma. Dhorilen de Guzman Bool knows the value of getting ahead. By the time her workers arrive and wave “good morning,” the company president/CEO is already operating at a pace that carries over for hours until the greetings turn into “See you tomorrow.”
Going by her work ethic, it’s fair to surmise that Ms. Bool is every bit the stereotypical corporate executive: socially detached, stiff, and inaccessible.
But she’s the complete opposite.
Ms. Bool is an affable boss. Fondly called as Ms. Dhey, she is as warm as she is hardworking. She is ever ready to help others and inspire them to dream big dreams.
Dhey has been living in SM Development Corporation’s South Residences in Las Piñas for a year. She moved there in order to be closer to her company’s office and warehouse, which are just a 15-minute drive away. She lives alone; her parents and siblings are in the province, and her seaman fiancé is currently on duty. In their absence, Dhey has found a family in her employees and in the staffs in her condo and the shops at the nearby SM Southmall.
Dhey chats with her co-workers as if they were her close friends, because they are, along with the personnel at South Residences. By 4:15 pm on work days, she is driven to her condo by her driver. Instead of going straight to her unit, Dhey spends at least an hour in the lobby for a routine “merienda kwentuhan” with the reception and housekeeping staff.
She often brings hot pan de sal for sharing. When she’s nudged for a pizza blowout with the magic words, “Ang ganda mo ngayon, Ms. Dhey,” she instantly dials the delivery numbers.
Dhey has become particularly close to Gin of housekeeping, along with security guards Ate Cha, Ate Jeena, and Kuya Felix. With her on afternoon walks in the gardens of South Residences is Kuya Rudy, a gardener who patiently answers all her questions about plants.
Dhey recently decided to purchase a sturdier pair of gloves for Kuya Rudy. But even before the gift reached his hands, the gardener suffered a stroke and was rushed to the hospital. He was pronounced dead on arrival. Dhey was devastated, and mourns Kuya Rudy’s passing with the other members of the South Residences staff.
“Naging importanteng parte na sila ng buhay ko kasi nakaka-relate ako sa kanila,” Dhey said. “Alam ko rin kasi ‘yung feeling na nanggaling sa wala.”
Entrepreneur by chance
Dhey was born in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro to parents who were both teachers. She is the eldest of seven siblings. Dhey wanted most to give her family a better life, so she took the in-demand nursing course.
She then traveled to Metro Manila with high hopes of landing a decent-paying nursing job but ended up working as a waitress in her aunt’s restaurant in Ongpin, as a caregiver in Cavite, and as a taxi agent for a rent-a-car company located at the airport.
She kept her eyes peeled for better job opportunities. During one of her trips to Cavite, Dhey came across a street advertisement announcing a job opening in the marketing department of a company manufacturing leather seats.
Without hesitation, she prepared an application for the Cavite-based company. She was accepted, but two years into her new career, the company folded.
Dhey found herself unemployed once again. This time, however, she had industry knowledge and a valuable network. Former workmates recognized her leadership potential and they advised her to set up her own leather upholstery company.
After a month of contemplation, Dhey bought into the idea.
“Wala naman talaga akong balak mag-negosyo,” she said. “Hindi siya by choice sa ‘kin; by chance siya. Sabi ko na lang i-try ko na lang din at baka nga may luck ako dito.”
Dhey purchased basic equipment and leather supplies, setting up shop in a garage. She hired three employees to manage the machines for sewing, cutting, and assembling. She reached to her former employer’s clients. It didn’t take long before cars were rolling in for their upholstery needs.
Soon enough, the business became ripe for expansion. Dhey was approached by persons interested in partnering with her; she took them. Things didn’t work out. A client from the automotive industry advised Dhey to put up her own company and provided the financial support. In 2013, LeatherDhey Enterprises was born.
With sole proprietorship, much better judgment and greater business savvy this time around, the company grew into one of the industry’s most recognized names, with clients all over the country. From 12 pioneer employees, the company now has 40. A rented warehouse can service up to 300 cars a month.
With her successful company, Dhey has been able to support her family and help other people. At 43, she is only starting to place more focus on her own life. She plans to marry her fiancé when he returns home from his maritime duties.
Dhey considers the people she has helped as her life’s treasures, along with her one-bedroom unit in South Residences. Another unit in South 2, is being primed for turnover.
Dhey simply expected to have a quality home near her office in the south. With South Residences’ integrated lifestyle – a mall, hospital, and other essential establishments within walking distance – a dedicated staff that genuinely cares, she got so much more.
“Dahil sa kanilang lahat,” Dhey says, “nakakuha ako ng pamilya dito.”
For more information on South2 Residences, visit https://smdc.com/properties/south-2-residences/
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