Of all the car company CEOs so far interviewed for this column, KP (Kia Philippines) Motors Corp. president Manny Aligada has logged the least number of years – eight and three months — in the automotive industry. Yet Aligada faces one of the biggest challenges in the industry: to turn the Kia brand around and steer it to a growth path after its sales plunged 58% in 2018 with its previous distributor.
Aligada has been an Ayala Group man all his career. He joined Globe in 1998, stayed there for 14 years, then moved to AC Automotive Holdings (now AC Motors) in July 2012. Before his appointment to Kia after Ayala took over the Kia brand in December 2018, he was the president and CEO of Honda Cars Makati, Inc. and Isuzu Automotive Dealership, Inc. which accounted for 40% of market network share for each of the two brands. In 2018, they were Dealer of the Year for both Honda and Isuzu.
The Ayala-Kia partnership was officially launched to the public in January 2019 under the company name of Adventure Cycle PH, Inc., which distributes KTM motorcycles. Recently, the partnership assumed the KP Motors corporate nomenclature.
Kia PH was relaunched only two years ago, but by February 2021 YTD, per the consolidated sales reports of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the PH, Inc. (CAMPI) and the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (AVID), KP Motors had already snared the No. 10 slot in the Top 10 Sales Performers honor roll.
And according to CAMPI’s March YTD sales report, KP Motors is now No. 8.
GOLFING & RIDING. Achieving these feats in a span of two years must have required a lot of hard work and strategizing on Aligada’s part, so the weekend is something he anticipates. Before the pandemic lockdowns, his Sunday mornings were spent either on the golf course or riding his KTM motorcycle.
“For golf,” he narrates, “I had regular flight mates that shared my schedule of teeing off at 5 a.m. That meant I had to be on the road by 4:45 a.m. We felt that was the best time to play as it allowed us to enjoy the cool morning breeze and get revitalized after a week of fast-paced work. Because of the early tee-off, we would be home before lunch time and spend the rest of the day with our families.
“Occasionally,” Aligada continued, “I would ride my KTM motorcycle with office mates in AC Motors. The time we had on Sunday mornings allowed us to catch up on personal stuff, not usually discussed in the office.” His bike is a 373 cc, 44 hp @9,500 rpm KTM 390 Duke.
But his weekend activities have been affected by the pandemic restrictions: “Since the lockdowns, my golf games and rides have been limited. But we still get to play when the quarantine levels allow it.”
FAMILY & FRIENDS. The pandemic has also changed the weekend activities he shares with his family. “Before the lockdowns, most Saturdays and Sunday afternoons were spent with my wife and my daughter, moving around in the metro, trying places for good food. We would also travel when we could as a family or with our friends who share our interest in visiting places that have cool weather, exciting sights, great food, and good drinks. When our schedules allow it, I also spend time with my siblings having dinner on Saturday nights, to catch up on family matters.”
At the end of the day, Aligada and his family enjoy their drinks. Since the start of the lockdown, he almost always has a bottle of cold beer every night. “On Friday nights, I also take shots of my whisky of choice,” he reveals. “I have a decent collection of whisky bottles from Japan, Scotland, even Taiwan and South Korea. Luckily, my wife and daughter share my fondness for these liquid gifts. They have their own preferences and choices of drinks.”
FITNESS & DIET. Now in his early 60s, Aligada tries to keep fit as much as he can. Until last year, running around the village was part of his weekly regimen but lately, he had to revert to walking to avoid having injuries. But he continues his 5 times a week, 45 minutes per set, of stretching, isometric-like planks, pushups, crunches and band exercises.
He chose this set of exercises because it does not require equipment or weights, so he can continue exercising even when he is travelling. Furthermore, this set reduces the likelihood of injuries. Aligada adds that when he plays golf, he walks most of the time, even if he has his golf cart.
To supplement his exercise regimen, Aligada watches his diet closely: “I don’t eat rice or drink soda. I only eat three meals a day, and do not snack. While I eat anything, I watch the volume of food I take to manage my weight and health condition.”
Aside from golfing, riding his KTM and exercising, Manny Aligada devotes part of his weekends to catching up with his friends from high school. “I grew up with them but strayed too far when I started to work and got too immersed in the corporate grind,” he avers. “Since a few years ago, before the lockdown, my friends and I realized the need to get together regularly and keep together like in our early years. This has allowed me to keep the balance across the groups of people that matter most to me: my wife and daughter, my friends from school, and my office mates now.”
Aida Sevilla Mendoza is fascinated by everything about cars: their power, styling, design, technology, craftmanship, exciting history of motor sport through the years, and the ever-evolving industry that creates them. But above all, she enjoys driving, especially on a traffic-free expressway where she feels the connection bonding her and the car.