This probinsyano knows that when it comes to business there are no shortcuts. How Allan Bryan Mendoza becomes a successful Filipino entrepreneur in Canada.
Allan Bryan Mendros (36), does not let money sit still. 2023 is only his 10th year in Canada, yet this young man from a small island in the Philippines already owns three businesses- cleaning services, a bed and breakfast and a restaurant.
Combining hard work, determination, guts and business savvy, Allan built his companies from the tips that he saved up while he was working at a restaurant. After saving up CAD15,000, he invested the money to buy a vacuum cleaner, floor stripping and waxing machine, and cleaning materials. This was the start of MT Cleaning System Inc., and Metro Services, an acronym that combines his and his wife Andrea’s surnames, Mendros and Trono. In Calgary, they are known as the Me-Tro family.
Taking the bull by the horns
As a young boy, Allan remembers sitting on an embankment in a paddy field, looking at the setting sun, asking himself “Is this everything that life has to offer me?” Right there and then he decided that he should improve the lives of his family, especially his parents.
Born in Tagwak, a small agricultural village in the town of Boac, Marinduque, Allan came to work in Calgary in June 2013, as a dishwasher at Chili’s Grill and Bar, an American chain restaurant with branches all over the world.
So when he went to Canada, he was determined to stay. Unsure whether his company could give him a permanent residence visa, he resigned mid-contract.
“During that time, the (Canadian) government would send you home once your contract ends. I was worried. What will happen to me? Will I be sent back home? That’s why I decided to look for a company that would process my papers quickly so I could stay in Canada for good,” says Allan during our Zoom interview. While working for Una Pizza and Wine restaurant in Calgary, Allan got his permanent residency and stayed on for another two years. His wife would save up the tips that he would bring home from the restaurant. “I had guts and I did my best,” he said.
Becoming an entrepreneur
At MT Cleaning System Inc, Allan and Andrea would earn between CAD100 to CAD200 per hour cleaning office and commercial spaces, houses and apartments, and industrial warehouses. He spent hours on the Internet learning the tools of the trade. Allan says that in a cleaning company, your body is your biggest investment. While the job is tough, money is easy.
But apart from the income, what he is most proud of is the trust that he earns from his clients, which includes companies and houses of billionaires.
“You talk to them, you have a meeting with them while many of their employees are not even allowed in their offices. You are not just a cleaner, you are trusted, you are given a key (to their houses), and businesses. If you were a bad person, you could steal from them. That’s why I am so proud of this job.”
Allan is grateful that his wife is disciplined and thrifty. Using the income from the cleaning business, they were able to buy a house and car, and enough money to bankroll the next plan.
Investing in real estate in Canada
Allan and Andrea’s family was growing. When the fourth child was born, they decided to build a second house, wanting to give each child their own room, and a big garden to run around. Again, through their savings, they were able to convince the bank to give them a mortgage.
It took a year and a half to finish, and when they moved out of their first house in 2016, they turned it into Metro Casa Bed and Breakfast, located in Coventry Hills, a 5-minute drive from Calgary Airport. Their BnB is enjoying an average score of 4.7 on AirBnB.com. Metro Casa BnB is managed by Allan, his wife, and his brother-in-law. It also doubles as a function room for events and his catering company MT Caterings Services.
“After getting our permanent residency, things went on very quickly. My wife and I always had a plan, even before we started processing our permanent residency. When it came, we were able to implement our plans right away. Being an entrepreneur, we look for other sources of income. So we decided to turn the old house into a bed and breakfast, and it became quite successful.”
Passion for cooking
While his professional background is in the food industry, Allan did not invest in a restaurant right away. The opportunity came serendipitously. They were working on a construction site when he chanced upon a restaurant for sale, also owned by a Filipino entrepreneur. The owner, a single mom of three, had a full time job and didn’t have time to manage the business. An employee told him that if the restaurant was sold to another nationality, they would lose their jobs.
“Here in Canada, once an opportunity comes to us, we grab it right away. We don’t let go, that’s why we are successful. In this venture, we hit three birds with one stone. We were able to help the former owner, she was able to help us fulfill our dream of having a restaurant, and we saved the jobs of fellow Filipinos,”
Thus, Fritou Chicken 130 was born. It was in this restaurant in Calgary that Allan was finally able to pursue his passion for cooking. As a hands-on employer, he still does the purchasing of supplies, and stands behind the fryer whenever an employee gets sick or can’t come to work.
The basis is family
Not everything is a walk in the park though. Allan admits that his ventures demand a lot of time and energy. Going to bed at midnight, and waking up at dawn is his usual routine. He sleeps a maximum of four hours a day. His main struggle is exhaustion.
But the care of his wife, and the love for his children keep him going. Since he is the owner of the company, he can easily take time off whenever he wants to take his children out or play with them. For him, the best measurements of his success is when he is finally able to buy his own house and car, his family eats well, he buys proper clothes for his children, and sends them to a good school.
Dealing with clients
Allan also struggles with customer complaints. Since he owns the business, his reputation as a Filipino entrepreneur in Canada, is on the line. He calls clients who are not satisfied with his restaurant or cleaning job, and makes sure to fix the problems himself.
But he is thankful for these challenges because he can hone his skills as an entrepreneur. His secret? Staying chill.
In business, hard work and capital are not enough. Strategy and sharpness are equally important. One of Allan’s strategies is not to hire workers who already have a long employment
“I hire people with no experience. They will learn from you, and what they learn is what they will apply to everyday work operations. Those who are experienced, they can make a game on you. They’ve already learned how to cheat their bosses,” he says matter of factly.
Allan tries to give everyone an opportunity in his companies. Among his employees are pensioners, young people, and mothers. Through the years, he has learned the ropes of managing employees and dealing with clients.
Many Filipino entrepreneurs would patronize the support of fellow kababayans but Allan does not mince words. While he acknowledges the community’s support, he had experienced being bullied by fellow Filipinos.
How does he deal with this?
“Simple, just be yourself. People don’t really know you, they don’t really know your investments. If you are already in a good place in life, just smile at them. Because your life is probably much better than theirs,” he advises to anyone experiencing the same.
The guy who would always choose cleaning over being a restaurant owner plans to retire at 45 and travel the world. But he does not plan to stop. He wants to open his own grocery store in Calgary, to help kababayans sell their own products.
He also dreams of building a high end resort in the Philippines.