Younger fans might not be aware of it, but the Korean wave or hallyu predates the slick choreography of K-pop groups and the hearty servings of samgyupsal. It’s actually rooted in the writings of Kim Gu, who led the movement to set Korea free from Japanese occupation during the 1920s.
Kim wanted Korea to be a power in its own right, but not in terms of political or military might. He was aware of the suffering his people endured when Japan annexed the country, and so he harbored the idea that Korean culture can be used as a soft power to shape global perception through attraction, not coercion.
HARI has proudly carried the Hyundai brand in the Philippines for 20 years
Hyundai’s arrival in the Philippines during the early 1990s similarly predates the rise of the Korean wave, which was just beginning to emerge after 1995. Its major offerings for local consumers back then comprised the Excel passenger car and the Grace van, which was later succeeded by the first-generation Hyundai Starex.
The Starex went on to become a popular people carrier for two generations
The company struggled for a decade against more established mainstream rivals from Japan. “It was an unknown brand back then,” recalls Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. (HARI) President Maria Fe Perez-Agudo when she came on board in 2001. Adding to the challenge was the September 11 terror attack two months into her stint, dampening the overall business mood.
It took several trips to South Korea for her to fully understand the company’s operations and strategy, which became key to building the brand's presence in the Philippines. “We had to work out how to marry the cultural differences between a Philippine and a Korean business structure in terms of understanding processes and decision-making,” she said.
Hyundai Philippines: 20 Years of Better Journeys
Customer service likewise played a big part, which meant understanding the needs of a particular buyer. It also involved a thorough knowledge of the company’s models, as they were not just products of an assembly line, but spaces where social and emotional connections are made, which lead to satisfying experiences and hopefully, repeat business.
In 2010, HARI led the formation of the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (AVID), championing laws that foster a sustainable business environment for all industry players that will lead to increased competitiveness and consumer welfare. Hyundai vehicles figured in the spotlight as HARI became the mobility partner of choice for events such as the 45th Asian Development Bank Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors, the 23rd World Economic Forum East Asia, and the ASEAN Finance Ministers Investor Seminar.
HARI spearheaded the founding of the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (AVID) in 2010
One might think that an automaker sells cars in competition with public transport, but HARI disputed this notion when it became the exclusive Philippine dealer for Hyundai trucks and buses in 2016, paving the way to meet local demand for mass mobility. This eventually made HARI the first industry player to offer a complete lineup of modern public utility vehicles (PUVs) from Class 1 to 3, all certified by government agencies and used by major transport cooperatives.
Today, HARI boasts a roster of passenger cars and commercial vehicles, sold through a formidable nationwide network of 41 passenger car and 14 commercial vehicle dealerships. Its efforts were twice recognized and rewarded with the Global Distributor of the Year Award by Hyundai Motor, serving as a testament to the company’s success.
The exclusive right to distribute Hyundai trucks and buses gave HARI a foothold on mass transport
The company’s heart, however, lies in H.A.R.I. Foundation Inc. (HFI), its socio-civic arm. HFI has engaged in various corporate social responsibility projects that aim to uplift the lives of Filipinos, pursuing advocacies with partners, like Gawad Kalinga and St. Scholastica's Priory. HFI delivered clean drinking water to elementary school students in Tanay, Rizal, collected from the Hyundai Rainwater Harvesting Facility. The foundation partnered with the UP-PGH Cancer Institute in 2018, donating an H350 luxury van converted into the country’s first state-of-the-art mobile cancer diagnostic clinic for breast cancer patients.
HARI employees volunteering to build houses with Habitat for Humanity
HARI has also taken on the challenge of COVID-19, developing the Hyundai MedTRX series of refrigerated vans specifically designed and engineered to deliver life-saving vaccines throughout the country. This is the company’s contribution to the fight against the pandemic.
“Mobility has always been for us more than simply moving people from Points A to B,” Agudo remarks. “We spent the past 19 years ‘in training,’ so to speak, so that we emerge stronger, better, and more determined to make a difference in what we now call the ‘Now Normal.’”
HARI donated the country’s first state-of-the-art mobile diagnostic clinic for breast cancer patients
It’s “invasions” like these, made of quality products with a desire to be of service to customers and the public, that certainly make a powerful impression and carry far-reaching effects.