From a humble dream of starting a food cart business that would help provide for his growing family, Jose Magsaysay Jr.’s finesse and business savvy saw that ambition grow into the multi-million Potato Corner franchise, which serves as an inspiration to millions of Filipinos who share the same goal.

Magsaysay’s story begins in 1983, where he served first as a janitor for the Park Square Makati branch of Wendy’s, then as Store Manager, then District Manager. His quick thinking and initiative sparked the interest of Wendy’s Philippines president, former Finance Secretary Jose T. Pardo, who would serve as Magsaysay’s mentor in the years to come. It was Pardo’s encouragement that spurred Magsaysay to join several others in a then-budding food concept – flavored fries – and Magsaysay left Wendy’s in 1992 to focus solely on Potato Corner.

By opening their doors to franchising early in Potato Corner’s life cycle, the company was rewarded with rapid growth with the founding of over 70 stores by 1994, and 120 stores by 1997. It was also during this time that Magsaysay refined his leadership strategy by seeking outside help through the introduction of a third-party chairman.

Seeking even more opportunities for growth and business, Magsaysay left Potato Corner and became General Manager of Mister Donut in 1999. Drawing from lessons learned from the establishment of Potato Corner, Magsaysay brought exponential growth to Mister Donut: from 250 stores when he signed on to over 800 stores in 2001. It was during this time that the Mister Donut company had Magsaysay enroll himself in a Master’s Degree in Business Administration course at AIM. However, citing his lack of a college degree, as well as his natural predisposition towards the arts and entrepreneurship, Magsaysay instead signed on for a degree in Entrepreneurship.

It was during this time that Magsaysay refocused and dedicated himself to Potato Corner. With the 1998 Asian Financial Crisis, as well as the death of then-managing partner Danny Bermejo, the company was in a tight spot. Shifting his plans from Mister Donut to a five-year multi-business plan for Potato Corner, he was once again asked to lead the now ailing company back to success.

Under Magsaysay’s leadership, the five-year plan blossomed, and Potato Corner experienced unprecedented success, with the return of franchises in 2002, the establishment of the first Potato Corner abroad in Indonesia in 2006, and breaking their personal record for number of operational stores in 2007. But Magsaysay saw that there was still more untapped potential – and the first Potato Corner in the United States opened in 2010, with more stores opening in Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Australia, Kuwait, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Panama.

Today, Potato Corner is Cinco Corp.’s crown jewel with several awards and citations to its name. Magsaysay himself has received numerous awards for his unique brand of leadership – the Franchise Excellence Hall of Fame Award in 2003, the MVP Bossing Award in 2010 and the Entrepreneur of the Year in 2016. But despite all this, what he loves the most is using the micro-business that he uplifted to help those who were once in his position. Under his guidance, Potato Corner has taken the lead in the microfood business arena, and has perfected the franchise business model through unwavering and singular dedication to be the best in their field. With over 80% of all Potato Corner stores owned by franchises, Magsaysay has honed the idea of mutually beneficial partnerships to its zenith.

“Let’s take care of each other – that’s the unwritten rule,” are Magsaysay’s own words with regard not only to his business, but also to his advocacies. A playful spirit at heart, Magsaysay has made contributions to the child welfare program Bantay Bata, and to aspiring athletes in Kickstarters PH, a sports learning program. Magsaysay seeks to instill young dreamers with the tools and the can-do spirit that drove him to succeed.

Where others saw the microfood business as a launching ground, Magsaysay saw it as a place worthy of development. With his ability to draw out the best – from himself, from a business, and from others – Jose Magsaysay is someone worthy of the title “leader”.