It was a meeting five years in the waiting–for me.
Since I discovered who bought the corner lots on our street, I was very eager to meet Robert Sy Tan, the Founder and CEO of Blade Auto Center.
I have been regular customer of their stores for all my car accessories and essentials, preferring them to those other “overpriced” car stores. So when I learned that Blade was finally having an event at their newest flagship store in Mindanao Ave. I just had to drop by to chat with their visionary CEO.
Since it was barely a two minute walk from our house, I made sure to arrive early to have a few minutes with Tan for an exclusive interview.
As we sat in the spacious showroom of Blade’s 50th store on Mindanao Avenue, Mr. Tan reminisced the journey that has led to this momentous milestone.
“Blade started with a simple but powerful idea,” Mr. Tan begins, reflecting on the early days. “We wanted to transform the automotive retail experience in the Philippines.”
“Starting Blade Auto Center in 2004 was about fulfilling a vision, I saw a gap in the market for affordable yet quality car accessories and services. Our mission was clear from the start: to offer value for money and make premium automotive products accessible to all Filipinos.”
The decision to expand beyond mall-based stores to standalone centers was a turning point for Blade. “We realized early on that to truly serve our customers, we needed more space, more products, and more services,” he explains. “Our standalone stores, like this one, are designed to be a complete automotive ecosystem.”
This ecosystem approach is vividly apparent in the Mindanao Avenue store. “Here, we offer not just car accessories but also bike and motorcycle accessories, maintenance services, and even a space for automotive enthusiasts to connect,” says Mr. Tan. “It’s about creating a community, not just a store.”
Blade’s expansion strategy is deeply intertwined with its core mission. “We’ve always focused on keeping operational costs efficient to ensure our customers get the best value,” Mr. Tan emphasizes. “This philosophy has enabled us to grow rapidly, opening 50 stores across the nation, and become the largest one-stop-shop for car accessories in the Philippines.”
The journey from a single store in Market! Market! BGC to a nationwide chain is filled with milestones. “Each store opening, each expansion, has been a step towards realizing our vision,” he shares. “The Blade Building along Timog Avenue in Quezon City, our first standalone store, was a significant milestone. It set the blueprint for what we wanted Blade to be, and this Mindanao Avenue store will serve as the new template for our future stores.
Discussing Blade’s digital transformation, Mr. Tan highlights the importance of embracing change. “The digital landscape offered us an opportunity to reach our customers in ways we couldn’t before. Our online platforms, like our website and social media channels, have become crucial touchpoints for engaging with our customers.”
Looking ahead, Mr. Tan is optimistic about Blade’s future. “Our plan is to continue expanding, especially in underserved areas in the south. We’re also exploring collaborations and partnerships that align with our philosophy.”
When asked about the secret to Blade’s success, Mr. Tan attributes it to the company’s dedication to its customers. “It’s all about understanding and meeting their needs. Whether it’s through our product offerings, our service quality, or our store environments, we strive to make every interaction with Blade memorable and satisfying.”
As the interview concluded, Mr. Tan’s vision for Blade is clear: “We’re not just selling products; we’re enhancing the automotive lifestyle in the Philippines. Our journey is ongoing, and we’re excited for what the future holds. At Blade Auto Center, we believe that when our customers thrive, we thrive.”
Robert Tan’s leadership and Blade Auto Center’s innovative approach to automotive retail are redefining what it means to be a customer-focused business in the Philippines. With a blend of strategic expansion, digital savvy, and a relentless focus on customer satisfaction, Blade is not just a store; it’s a destination for all automotive needs, setting the standard for the industry’s future.