Manuel Rodríguez 50 years in DR
Manuel Rodriguez, a name by itself may not tell us much but we say Manolo Iberia, all right then. Manuel is the soul of Iberia markets whose effort and perseverance has managed to place in the top ranking of supermarkets in the country. He is a man faithful to its principles whose simplicity and strength always surprise us.
He arrived DR almost 50 years ago and we were fascinated by his vision of the country because he has personally seen it grows and develops. Having a hard start on this earth, he exceeded all situations that anyone could live abroad. A few days of his arrival he faced the outbreak of the civil war and had to spend some truly difficult years which undoubtedly marked that humble and emotional nature making emotions to come to the surface when he talks about his family and even about some hard facts. This is something very common in people who came up from below and made themselves overcoming difficulties that remain hidden when you get to the summit.
Although he is Spanish by birth, he feels Do- minican, even though he can forget his native Asturias to returning whenever he can.
What year did you arrive to DR?
In April 1965, it will be 50 years living in the country.
Why did you choose this country?
Actually, it was by chance. At that time the military servi- ce was compulsory in Spain and I did not want to waste two years of my life. I had family here and they encouraged me to come over. After four years working with them and I put a business in San Pedro de Macoris due to life circumstances.
In 50 years you have seen many changes in the country ....
When I arrived there were not vehicles enough in San Pedro de Macoris, there were three or four cars and look today! Juan Do- lio area was virgin, there was nothing, it was deserted, and there was not even beach access. The first hotel was called Villas del Mar and had about fifty rooms; it was sold for very little money because there were no customers. ¡I arrived before tourism! The land is now worth a fortune then was sold at a price of 1 peso per m2. In those times the Eastern zone’s economy was based on sugarcane and today this sector is entirely secondary.
Was it hard for you to adapt to the country?
I adapt easily anywhere, as long as you have food, there is no problem.
When did your relationship with IBERIA begin?
Iberia was founded by my partner Fernando Rodriguez in 1964 and I joined in 1969. Now we celebrate the 50th anniversary.
How many employees worked in Iberia when you arrived?
About 20 and today there are more than 1,500 employees
What do you believe is the key of your professional success?
Hard work and dedication. I’m surrounded by a great team and very helpful people but I’m always hanging like a father near their children.
What are the next projects?
We acquired a plot of land of 13,000 m2 in Bávaro to open the country’s largest Iberia warehouse store next year, you will find everything there.
How many Iberia warehouse centers exist today?
There are five centers: La Romana, Higüey, Bávaro, San Pedro de Macoris and Hato Mayor.
What would you advice to young entrepreneurs?
They should devote much time to the business and be honest. A bu- siness is not for one day, is for life, to be successful you have to put the papers on the table and be clear. You cannot deceive anyone.
Were you decorated by the King of Spain? How was it?
It was the first official visit of the King Juan Carlos to America, he came to Santo Domingo and we welcomed him in the House of Spain, I had the opportunity to share with him personally.
Soon I received a Civil Merit Award, a picture that I keep in my power with honours. He is still excited by remembering times like this ...
It is highly prized for me. Did you miss something about Spain?
The first year I missed my family but now I have my own family here, I got married and have 2 children, a boy and a girl who are twins. We have been blessed with happiness both my wife and I and I’m still working for them.
Do you travel a lot to Spain?
Yes, I travel two or three times a year. My brothers live in Asturias and we spend the holidays there, my wife is in love with Oviedo.
What keeps you awake?
Right now, nothing because businesses are very successful. The only thing left is to raise my children and thanks God all my family is healthy.
Any dream to be done?
There are no limits in business, taking and taking all your time and it’s like a wheel that cannot be stopped and if it stops everything blocks. Businesses demand more than you can do.
What is your favourite place of Dominican Republic?
Juan Dolio is where I spend more time.
A place in the world?
Asturias, my homeland, the village where I was born Castañedo (that comes from castaña). It was a town of 6 neighbors and now there are only two living there.
What is your favourite hobby?
I like to play golf, it clears may mind very much and I feel good.
What is your favourite music?
The merengue, I have danced a lot
Would you change something from the past?
If I’m reborn I would do exactly what I’ve done so far. I have worked all my life but I have also enjoyed.
A trip to do?
I just made the trip of my dreams, China. It was complicated because they only speak Mandarin.
What do you admire the most regarding Dominican temper?
They are always in a good mood, it’s in their blood. When you travel around the world and see how stressed and cranky people are, you admire this much Dominicans.
Do you have other businesses?
Yes, I have a company of frozen foods and I have had several facto- ries with about 1,200 employees.
A tireless worker that practices what you preach because when he says “let’s work” it is literal and does not hesitate to get to work and get into a cold room as an employee more. Every day at five o’clock starts exercising, walks outside and prepares to face work, full of optimism as if there were no tomorrow.
Tags: Foreigners in RD