When furniture and education mix

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CHARLES LIM and Sunshine Barcelo met at a gym. She had just finished her nursing studies while he, 10 years her senior, was a businessman with a well-established furniture factory, Heritage Muebles Mirabile Export Inc. In 2003, shortly after that meeting, the two got married and have since been supportive of each other’s endeavors.

Charles recounts that when he was a commerce student, majoring in marketing, at the University of San Jose-Recoletos, he worked for his aunt. After working there, he went into the trading of garments until after graduating from college with cum laude honors.

Then he met a man who was into export, and they became industrial partners, subcontracting for a big furniture export company. In less than a year, he established Heritage Muebles Mirabile. He said he “hit the jackpot” when, early in his export business, the value of the US dollar versus the Philippine peso almost doubled, doubling his income from one shipment, in peso terms.

In 1994, when his company started, the furniture in demand tended to be ornate with wood carvings and wrought iron. In 1998, the company shifted to furniture with stone inlay. In 2002, he says: “I discovered outdoor furniture, using aluminum frame with a synthetic fiber weave that is not brittle and will not fade. It is earth friendly and recyclable.” For this he has both local and foreign markets.

When their eldest son, Carl, was ready for nursery school, Sunshine scouted around for the right school for him and was not satisfied with any she went to. The thought of traveling 45 minutes each way to a school in Cebu City was something she was uncomfortable with. So she came up with the idea of starting a school within their 2.5-hectare factory complex.

They started Sto. Niño Mactan Montessori School in 2009, with one classroom and 25 students. Even in its first year of operation, parents started asking them to expand the school and today, it has 20 rooms offering nursery to second year high school with a total of 300 students. It also has a social hall, library, computer lab, science lab, special education center, medical/dental clinic, art room and, for nursery, a play room. The school offers Mandarin lessons with a teacher and instructional materials from the Taiwanese government. For this, it also offers special lessons for adults. The school is also authorized by immigration to admit foreign students, mostly children of the export processing zone executives in Mactan.

Being a nurse, Sunshine makes sure the school adopts a holistic approach to the child, taking care of his physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual (ethics and morals) growth, for which her teachers are asked to have a progress report diary of each child. Though she has competent staff, Sunshine is equipping herself with better knowledge of the business they have gotten into, and so she is taking Diplomate in Professional Education at the Cebu Technical University.

With their love and support for each other, Charles and Sunshine Lim have successfully managed both their business ventures while raising their children, Clark Shawn, 7, and twins Clark and Camille, 5.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 09, 2012.

Article Source : www.sunstar.com.ph