Johnny Air Company Profile
From Counting Beans to Selling Beans
Johnny Valdes started as an accountant with one of the top accounting firms in the Philippines during the early 70’s. He was assigned to the United States in 1974 as an auditor for Coopers & Lybrand through their employee exchange program.
Although Johnny had the background and training of an accountant, he was always an entrepreneur in spirit. After living in a Filipino-American community for many years, Johnny began to recognize the need for many products and services that were not provided by mainstream marketers in the U.S. His knack for identifying new opportunities encouraged Johnny to start his own businesses.
Between 1980 and 1983, Johnny sold pre-packed vegetables and food products catering to Filipino-Americans as well as Asian restaurants and retail shops in the New York metropolitan area.
An Idea That Carries Weight
While residing in the United States, Johnny traveled back to the Philippines frequently. In the early 1980s, the postal service in the Philippines was extremely inefficient and unreliable. It took several weeks for packages to reach their local destinations and many were lost or damaged in transit. Consequently, Johnny was asked by fellow Filipinos in the U.S. to deliver packages to their relatives with each trip home. Eventually, Johnny was carrying so many of these packages or “padala” to the Philippines that he had to begin charging for the excess baggage weight.
This gave Johnny the idea to start a Philippine parcel service to meet a need that is unique to the Filipino culture: Filipinos abroad wanting to carry on the tradition of gift-giving or \”pasalubong\” as a way of sharing with their loved ones back home, coupled with the Filipino appetite for fine, imported goods. The need for \”padala\” works both ways: Filipinos in the U.S. appreciate the value of Philippine-made clothes and shoes, native foods and native handicrafts.
In 1984, Johnny established Johnny Air Cargo (JAC), becoming the first door-to-door courier service between the United States and the Philippines serving Filipino-Americans. The business was initially operated from Johnny\’s residence in Queens with only one full-time employee and a driver. A rapidly growing Filipino-American community in the New York metropolitan area—with a sizeable segment in the medical profession—enabled Johnny\’s home-grown business to prosper.
Johnny Air Cargo\’s reputation for fast and efficient service spread quickly by word of mouth. Thus came the need to open more branches in the United States and in other areas throughout Philippines.
In 1987, Johnny Air Cargo, Inc. was incorporated and began expanding its business to commercial accounts. One of Johnny’s major achievements was landing the accounts of the Philippine General Consulate Office and the Philippine Mission to the United Nations in New York. Soon afterwards, Johnny began to acquire other corporate accounts like Gelmart, Inc., Natori Corporation, BPI, Jaguar Philippines and Sari-Sari Store, to name a few. JAC also began providing express parcel service for a growing number of Filipino Overseas Workers (OFW), and Filipino immigrants in New York, and eventually in Los Angeles, San Francisco