Gardening and Landscaping, MMSU alumnus makes it big

Mr. John Simeon Agbigay is probably the envy of just about every farmer and home gardener in Brgy. Quiling Norte, City of Batac, Ilocos Norte. Early morning he relaxes on an easy chair with a cup of coffee watching his commercial garden grow.
In the afternoon, he checks his lists if there are still some missing garden plants to be delivered to customers for the next day. He and his wife Lea sell them to frequent buyers in Ilocos Norte and nearby towns.
“You must have a passion for what you are doing, and know almost anything that concerns your enterprise,” beamed John when he spoke before plants enthusiasts, researchers, students, and MMSU employees during the opening of the garden show and trade fair at the College of Law grounds on January 6.
Because of his success in this kind of agribusiness, John was invited by MMSU President Shirley C. Agrupis as guest speaker to share his secrets in raising commercial plants that could be duplicated by those planning to tread the road he has successfully taken.
 Agbigay is the owner of Ēlan Garden, one of the most successful producers of landscape materials and ornamental plants in Ilocos Norte. He finished BS Agriculture major in Horticulture at MMSU in 1994.
    Before putting up Ēlan Garden in 1997, Agbigay was a salesman of a fertilizer company and a research assistant at MMSU. However, he later realized that it is better to be an employer as he devoted his full time in his own business.
    In his speech, Agbigay shared the challenges that he had gone through in maintaining the operation of Ēlan Garden. One of these obstacles is the limited capital.
    “When we participated in different garden shows in the past, we tend to borrow money just to gain profit. That is normal because you really need to take the risks,” he said.
Agbigay considers manpower as “the hardest aspect of the business”.
    “There are times when employees don’t report for work. This delays our on-going projects. Aside from that, it is hard to look for workers in the province nowadays because of many job opportunities,” he said, adding that competition is another major challenge.
    “There are also lots of competitors as well as freelance landscapers today. So when it comes to price competition, those legitimate business establishments are left behind,” he added.
    Because of stiff competition, Ēlan Garden has also ventured into landscaping maintenance services in order to innovate.
“For more than two decades, we are still in the business. We still rise every now and then amidst its tight competitors,” he said.
    According to Agbigay, important qualities have guided him in getting through obstacles, and keeping the business running. Foremost of these, he said, is love of work and thirst for knowledge. He continually updates himself by exploring the internet and attending seminars and trainings.
    Another quality is being creative in terms of “making innovations that help your business become more noticeable than others”. In the case of Ēlan Garden, they innovate by making artificial rocks and holders instead of getting these from the rivers.
    Moreover, Agbigay emphasized that resourcefulness, a clear sense of direction, and integrity make any business more successful in the long run.
    Agbigay also works as the exclusive consultant and contractor of the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte for its various landscapes and urban beautification projects. At the close of his speech, Agbigay thanked Governor Imee R. Marcos for “pushing me to excel more in this field and MMSU for the success of Ēlan Garden.”