Made Ngurah Bagiana: Burger Master from Klender

IN a modest burger joint in Klender, East Jakarta, Made Ngurah Bagiana displays a certificate that he say is a cooperation agreement with Bob Sadino. The certificate reads: “It is with This that We Begin” and, indeed, the signing of this agreement marked the beginning of relations between Edam Burger and Kemfoods. “If I didn’t turn a profit for my business partner, Edam Burger would not be where is today,” he said.   

Edam Burger has practically become a household name. Made Ngurah Bagiana, who was born in Singaraja, Bali, has built his business on the basis of a semi-franchising concept. When he first started the business in 1990, he sold burgers from a cart.

Every morning he would go to the market to buy the ingredients he needed for his burgers, such as bread rolls, tomatoes, lettuce, sauce and minced beef. He would peddle his burgers, called Lovina Burger, every afternoon, moving from one housing complex to another, from one school to the next and from one business center to another.   

In the early days of his burger business, he often had no buyers. Nobody, he said, was interested in buying his burgers even though he sold them for only Rp 1,700 each. He often ended up eating the burgers himself rather than throwing them out. At that time, burgers were perceived as expensive because they were foreign food.

“Only when people realized my burgers were cheap and delicious did they become popular,” he said. However, Made was still not satisfied that he had a lot more buyers for his burgers than before. He continued to rack his brains for ways to develop his business, feeling it would be exhausting to continue selling burgers from a cart.   

The economic crisis that hit Indonesia in 1997 proved to be a great opportunity for Made. To his way of thinking, the rising prices of daily necessities could help him develop his burger business. His logic was very simple: the crisis meant lots of people needed extra money. And so he persuaded housewives living near business centers to sell his burgers.   

The cooperation arrangement Made has with his business partners is very simple. He sets up a counter to be managed by a business partner and supplies the ingredients for the burgers such as bread rolls, minced beef and sauce at prices lower than their market prices, thereby enabling the seller to make a profit. This strategy works effectively and he now has more business partners.

Over time, Made’s burger business has grown. Many people have visited him at his house to ask to be his business partner. When he started his burger business he had only two carts, which over time increased to about 40. Made now has more than over 2,000 outlets managed by business partners all over Indonesia.   

For Made, quality is the most important thing. When buying ingredients for the burgers, he makes sure the quality is good. When buying the meat, he would go to Kemfoods for the required supply of minced beef. The fact that Made was Kemfoods’ best customer with the highest purchase value attracted the attention of Bob Sadino, the owner of Kemfoods. It seems Made and Bob Sadino were destined to meet.

“For me, Pak Bob is just like a father to me. I have learned a lot from him. It is also Pak Bob who gave the name of Edam Burger to this business,” he said.   

Aside from partnering with Kemfoods, Made has also teamed up with PT Bogasari, a flour company that runs a program for small and medium enterprises in the supply of flour. Made has his own recipe for making bread rolls as he wants to make sure that his bread satisfies the tastes of Indonesians. In all, he now manages 14 bakeries to meet the market demand all over Indonesia.

In business theory, creative innovation is absolutely necessary to ensure survival. In this regard, creativity is not concerned with only the making of the products to be sold but also with the development of the core business. “Only in this way can we stay one step ahead of our competitors,” he noted.   

Thanks to his strong business instincts, Made continues to be innovative in developing Edam Burger. His empathy with other people and his desire to help others find opportunities for a better life are his main engines in doing his business. He has created a cheap partnering system that anybody would find easy to apply.   

When someone wants to be a business partner of Edam Burger, there are several optional outlets to suit their financial capabilities. A partnership with Edam Burger can be formed with as little as Rp 1 million to Rp 3 million. Made has also introduced his BLU (Direct Assistance for Business) scheme for prospective partners with limited capital.

“I took the idea from the government’s BLT (Direct Assistance in Cash) scheme for the poor,” he said, adding that, “I once experienced how difficult it was to run a business so now I want to help other people escape poverty and live better through selling burgers.”   

Made tries as best he can to ensure that his burgers suit local tastes. “I have adapted my burgers so that they can be readily accepted in different regions. In Padang, the sauce is hotter while in Semarang and Yogya, the sauce is sweeter. In Bali I sell chicken burgers because in Bali it is taboo to eat beef,” he said, chuckling, in response to a question about the different burgers he sells in different regions.   

With his burgers, Made said, he never blindly follows convention. In fact, he tends to stand out. His latest burgers are Burger Cinta (Love Burger) and Burger Gila (Crazy Burger). The Love Burger is a heart-shaped burger. He said he had been inspired to make this particular burger because he never found the time to see Ayat-Ayat Cinta (Verses of Love) at the cinema. The Crazy Burger is a super jumbo burger.   

Made’s hard work and perseverance have made him a successful burger entrepreneur and an inspiration to other people. Despite his success, Made remains modest and kind. Married to Made Arsani Dewi, Made will continue helping others lift themselves out of financial hardship. For him, success is the outcome of what he has done. The key to success is having the courage to take a step forward even though it may be just a small step, or even a step in the wrong direction.

“In my opinion, the key to success is the willingness to take a step forward, regardless of whether it is the right or wrong step. So you must continue to move forward. From experience, we will learn which steps are right and which are wrong. Afterwards, do what is right and never take the same wrong step twice. This is the way we learn.” (Andreas Setiadi Sanusi)  

The Jakarta Post, October 22, 2008

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