[dropcap]A [/dropcap]few weeks ago, the Danko Stambuk Extension of the Dole Surallah Cannery was inaugurated and  dedicated to Senior VP for International Sourcing and Manufacturing of Dole Asia Holdings, Mr. Danko Stambuk (also former GM of Dolefil, 2001-2004) in recognition of his leadership in the acquisition of the Dole Surallah Cannery in 2006, and his long-term commitment to the growth of Dolefil.

Unveiling of Dolefil Logo
(From left to right) Dole Packaged Foods Asia President Mr. Shawn Warren, Surallah Mayor Antonio Bendita, Danko Stambuk, Randy Fleming (Dole VP and Managing Director), DTI XII Regional Director Ibrahim K. Guiamadel, DOLE XII – Regional Director Sisinio Cano, and Dole Upper Valley Operations Director, Recto Puno


Back in the early 2000’s, Dole Surallah Cannery (DSC) was still under the management of T’boli Agro-Industrial Development, Inc. or TADI. The latter faced financial difficulties and was deep in debt, to the point where the management was paying its workers with canned products to sell; according to one former TADI employee (who is now a Dolefil employee).  The HR manager even told him to cut cogon grass (which was abundant in the TADI compound) and sell his harvested grass just to make ends meet.

The Cannery was in a sad state of disrepair; equipment and facilities, including its pollution control and abatement facilities, could not be maintained. Furthermore, due to TADI’s inability to pay its bills, SOCOTECO I disconnected TADI’s power supply twice – on March 30 to May 10, 2005, and then on September 30 to December 19, 2005. This crisis affected more or less 700 workers.

It was this situation that moved Dole Philippines, Inc. (Dolefil) to place its bid to acquire the TADI facility in 2005.

With the team led by Mr. Danko Stambuk, the purchase was finalized on May 2006. By July 2006, Dolefil hired its first ex-TADI employee; thereafter, more TADI employees were absorbed by Dolefil and continued to work in the Surallah canning facility under a new management.

Growth of Dole Surallah Operations

Upon completion of the turnover, Dolefil immediately invested in DSC in an effort to enhance the working conditions of the workers: floors had to be tiled, ceilings had to be restructured, equipment had to be refurbished and purchased, and ventilation had to be improved. With eight (8) preparation lines and a team of workers who were driven and committed to the task, DSC proved to be a perfect complement to the Polomolok cannery of Dolefil.

dolefil surallah
Dolefil staff with Mr. Danko Stambuk (leftmost), Dole Packaged Foods Asia President Mr. Shawn Warren (2nd from right), and VP for Regional Industrial Operations, Theprit Wattanapisit (3rd from right).

Expansion of the Cannery

It is Dolefil’s vision to be the “high volume, low cost producer of top quality products to world markets” and to support this, the Company is at an aggressive expansion phase and is looking for more lands to grow 1 Million tons of pineapples by 2019. Hence, the expansion in DSC was borne out of the need to increase the Company’s processing capacity to absorb the additional fruit volume from the expansion areas, most of which are closer to Surallah than Polomolok. With this, coupled with DSC’s high performing team, the Company decided to expand the facility in Surallah from eight (8) lines to eighteen (18) lines, or an additional of more than 5,000 sq. meters of floor area to the main cannery building.

To accomplish this, the Company made the decision to close down one of its canneries in Thailand and transfer its machineries and equipment to the DSC.

dolefil surallah
Dolefil Surallah employees and staff at the inauguration of the plant expansion.

The expansion – now inaugurated as the Danko Stambuk Extension, in recognition of his contribution to the acquisition in 2006 – more than doubles DSC’s capacity, bringing an opportunity to create at least 1,500 direct jobs for the locality and nearby towns and introduce new products, better practices and equipment. This proves the trust of Dole Asia Holdings (Dolefil’s parent company in Singapore) in Dolefil.

Dolefil's Danko Stambuk
Senior VP for International Sourcing and Manufacturing of Dole Asia Holdings, Mr. Danko Stambuk (former GM of Dolefil, 2001-2004) to whom the Dolefil Surallah was named.

Other projects in the pipeline are the warehouse expansion, improvement of the DSC entrance/main gate, and a Biogas Project. It is also the Company’s goal to replicate the Dole Gawad Pag-ibig Housing Program for its employees in Surallah (Phase 1 in Polomolok has already been completed).

gov daisy and dolefil
Gov Daisy
South Cotabato Governor Daisy Avance Fuentes stands before the Inauguration Marker with Danko Stambuk and Randy Fleming.

With this development, livelihood opportunities in Surallah (as well as the nearby municipalities) are also expected to double as well. The communities stand to benefit from the additional businesses that will be generated through this growth.

It is the hope of the Company that it will be able to bring significant contribution to the welfare of its workers, their families and the community.