The news of her being chosen as one of Asia’s Power Businesswomen for 2020 by Forbes came as a total surprise to Olivia Limpe-Aw. “I had only known that Forbes Asia was writing an article on the company. Since my son Aaron was the resource person for the article, I had no idea what it was for,” the chairman and CEO of Destileria Limtuaco said.
Aaron knew the research was for Forbes Asia’s Power Businesswomen but he presumed that his mother knew about it. He did not take the matter seriously because he thought Forbes Asia was just reaching out for information on a shortlisted group of individuals. “So, nothing was certain as far as he was concerned,” Limpe-Aw added.
But when the articles started coming out about this year’s Asia’s Power Businesswomen, she began receiving the links to her phone from her son. “The Forbes team had actually notified him earlier in the day, but he missed their e-mail,” she shared.
The recognition was given to 25 business leaders who, according to Forbes, “have risen to that challenge [global pandemic] and are demonstrating their mettle in these difficult times”. Destileria Limtuaco showed it can be flexible when, during the months that liquors were banned, it switched to making hand sanitisers and disinfectants.
Established in 1852, Destileria Limtuaco is the oldest distillery in the Philippines. Five generations, including Limpe-Aw’s have contributed to the company’s growth and strength. It was established by Lim Tua Co, a Chinese immigrant who introduced to the country a Chinese medicinal wine locally called sioktong. He later took on a Filipino name and became known as Don Bonifacio Limtuaco.
A nephew, Lim Chay Seng, took over the company upon the death of the founder and his only son. Seng steered the company through a period marked by revolutions. But he did well and pumped much-needed capital into the business. He also expanded their products to Western liquors.
His son, James Limpe, then took over. A graduate of the University of Washington in Seattle, US, Limpe is credited for employing the modern management style to the company. He also introduced vodka in their line of products.
James’ son Julius soon took over and made his own mark by developing patents and building major plants. He was also the man behind Destileria Limtuaco’s iconic brand, White Castle Whiskey.