Joko Mogoginta: Empowering Employees

YOUNG, smart and decisive is how one would describe Joko Mogoginta, president director of PT Tiga Pilar Sejahtera Food Tbk. (TPS Food Plc). Although still relatively young, he has turned the company into one of the most respected food companies in the country.

He is now expanding the company’s business to other lines. At a glance one would not find anything special about Joko, who was born in 1967 in Surakarta, Central Java. Many people would assume that his high position at the company is due to his being the grandson of Tan Pia Sioe, the company’s founder. However, his track record at the company tells an entirely different story.  

After graduating from the School of Agriculture, Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, in 1992, Joko took the daring step of totally revamping the family company, which had been producing rice noodles under the “Cangak” brand since 1959. The first step was to establish a new company, PT Tiga Pilar Sejahtera (TPS). “Great, isn’t it, how a fresh graduate dares to establish an entirely new company and become its president director?” he said with a laugh.  

He said that at the time his asset was “AKU”, an acronym for ambition, competitiveness and perseverance. By ambition he means the willingness to work hard with a sharp mind while having a high target. Being competitive means there should be a unique selling point or differentiation, added value and high quality, while perseverance, determination or fortitude means a high degree of endurance or fighting spirit.  

During his early years, Joko, who graduated cum laude, was concerned about the food situation in Indonesia as many commodities were still imported, such as sugar, soybeans, beef, milk and many other items, including various processed foods. “Unfortunately, our people feel proud when they consume imported products, which is disheartening as our country is rich with resources related to farming, plantations and forestry as well as animal husbandry and fishery,” he said.  

Joko had a vision that was quite advanced at the time. He wanted both upstream and downstream Indonesian food products to be able to compete with imported ones. Joko believes that quality and added value are two paramount factors. “Value and quality are the main guiding light in how we run our business at TPS,” he said.  

He made every department and employee in the company aware of his vision and mission in a “rolling down” method from top to bottom management. “Number one quality is our motto and value is how the company performs strategically,” he said.  

Joko, a father of two, said his style in leading the company was a combination of the various styles of a number of successful leaders. “A leadership style should match the situation and relevant requirements. In my opinion, a leader should never stop learning how to run his organization,” he emphasized.  

In line with this, he added that empowering his employees by giving them responsibilities and the relevant authority to make decisions was vital. He said many leaders hand over responsibility, but when it comes to making decisions they take over. “A leader must know when to stay in front or behind,” he explained.  

Under the leadership of Joko, TPS became quite aggressive in expanding its business. In 1995, a new factory was established in Karanganyar, Central Java, to anticipate the rising demand for noodles. At the start of the new millennium in 2000, an integrated food plant was constructed on a 50-hectare plot of land in Sragen, Central Java, to prepare the company for further growth.

The expansion included not only building new factories as in 2002 but also enhancing the company’s management for better productivity and sustained efficiency. It success was proven by the ISO 9001:2000 and HACCP certificates received by the company.  

TPS reached a milestone when it decided to list on the stock exchange. Through its acquisition of PT Asia Inti Selera Tbk (Plc), which had a major market share in egg noodles under the Ayam 2 Telor (Chicken and Two Eggs) brand, TPS was listed on the Jakarta Stock Exchange in 2003.  

Since then it has expanded even more. In 2004, TPS entered the candy and cookie market by acquiring PT Poly Meditra Indonesia, which also had a large market share in the tamarind candy market under the Gulas brand.  

Business growth did not stop at this point and in 2007, TPS entered a business line that was quite different from its core business of food when it ventured into energy under the name of TPS Energi. At first this subsidiary was tasked only with building power plants for the parent company’s needs.  

However, with accumulated experience TPS Energi is now planning to build other power plants, both as an individual power producer and as an engineering procurement construction company. A year later, TPS ventured into agribusiness by establishing TPS Agro, which was involved in the oil palm business and currently in other agriculture businesses. With about 3,000 employees, today the reputation of TPS is becoming more solid than ever.

Currently, the company is a market leader in dried noodles and dried rice noodles under the Superior brand as well as noodle snacks under the Mie Kremez brand.   All this has been due to its high quality and added-value products through a high-tech process using choice raw materials to produce healthy and hygienic products. What is also important is the high professionalism of the skilled employees who make the products and manage the business. “Our customers get value for their money when they purchase and consume our products,” said Joko.  

This year TPS celebrates its 50th anniversary. It is a historic moment to be celebrated with full determination to make the business, which has lasted three generations, grow further. “Basically, our principle is to make the company stronger, more focused and more stable compared with previous years. The company is committed to innovation, strategy, the vision to become the foundation to build a tradition of leadership in the market, a solid financial condition as well as to boost shareholders’ value,” he stressed.  

He said the future of the company depended on three major foundations, namely competent manpower, appropriate information technology, skillful and professional management with the application of good corporate governance. “We must pay great attention to these three foundations to enhance our competitiveness, to enlarge our market share, sales volume and profits now and in the years to come,” he said.  

To achieve all this, TPS will continuously be developed to become a domestic as well as regional company that is significant and highly regarded. TPS Energi will also play a major role in the development of energy and electricity in the country. Celebrating its 50th anniversary under the theme of Existence, Experience and Trustworthiness is proof of TPS’ seriousness in conducting its business so far. (T. Hidayat)

The Jakarta Post, July 29, 2009

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