From EPITS to iSTEP: Primer Group celebrates transformation of its core values

April 15, 2019

As part of its transformation journey, Primer Group of Companies recently strengthened and celebrated the evolution of its core values from EPITS to iSTEP.

iSTEP, which stands for Integrity, Self-Discipline, Teamwork, Entrepreneurial Spirit, and Passion for Excellence shall be the anchor for the Primer Group’s corporate culture. These values play a central role in defining the way Primer Group does what it does and in unifying the organization.


iSTEP display at the WorkPlays lobby

On April 1, 2019, the official launch of the evolved core values iSTEP was held at the WorkPlays building, with remote viewing at the Primer Distribution Center and at the Sucat Office. The celebration at the Primer Group of Companies headquarters signified the beginning of a series of iSTEP celebrations in various offices of the organization.



Primer Group employees (KaPrimers) gathered at the WorkPlays building, anticipating the messages from Primer Group of Companies President and Chief Executive Officer Jimmy Thai, as well as from the organization’s resident inspirational and business speaker Francis J. Kong.

In his welcome message, Jimmy Thai emphasized how “timely it is that we underscore the core values”.


President and CEO Jimmy Thai share the value of integrating iSTEP into KaPrimers’ daily lives

“When we started brainstorming this about eight years ago, we really reflected on the core values. We were thinking ‘How does Primer Group really do its business? What are the values?’ Primer has been around for almost 35 years. Just imagine this. If the partnership and the founders do not exercise the iSTEP, we won’t have Primer today. For example, if we didn’t have integrity and teamwork, if we were thinking ‘lalamangan ko siya’, then there won’t be a partnership,” he shares and adds, “In teamwork, what’s important is harmony. We (Board of Directors) may have different opinions and preferences, but at the end of the day, when we make a decision, walang sisihan.

Jimmy Thai also encouraged employees to integrate the core values in their everyday tasks. “When you do your own things, when you have doubts, when you have questions on what decisions to make, first thing is to look at the iSTEP. If you make sure that the iSTEP values are in it, then it’s easier to make a decision.

Among the most anticipated parts of the program was the message from Francis J. Kong, who has been an integral part of settling the organization’s core values.


Francis J. Kong inspires KaPrimers with his message about the core values



Francis Kong emphasized that the core values shall serve as each employee’s compass. He also took time to highlight each value.

Integrity, defined as ‘doing the right thing even when no one is watching’, came from the word integrated, which also got its roots from the term integer or whole. Francis Kong says integrity keeps an organization whole. When one loses integrity, this shall form ‘cracks’ in the whole, therefore disrupting the organization significantly.

Self-discipline was identified as important in one’s growth. When one has self-discipline and knows how to listen, one is able to let himself grow.

Teamwork was embodied through the story of Primer Group’s five founders. Each one has their own expertise, and made use of each of their strengths to bring Primer Group to where it is today. “Kahit gaano kataas ang posisyon mo (No matter how high your rank is), you cannot succeed without teamwork. Even Batman and Lone Ranger have partners. We are made up of different strengths, but we all have weaknesses; and team work allows us to be stronger,” says Francis Kong.

Entrepreneurial Spirit has always been a value encouraged by the owners, as they have been pushing employees to become entrepreneurs on their own, beyond having an ownership mindset.

Passion for Excellence was defined in two parts: passion meaning ‘suffering’and excellence being ‘committing and performing beyond compliance’. “Instead of competing with yourself, compete with the world’s best, but drive yourself towards being the best,” FJK says.


The Board of Directors with Francis J. Kong

Chief-of-Staff Noel Duldulao closed the event rallying employees towards imbibing the core values. He also said that this is the beginning of the series of celebrations of the core values in Primer Group offices and stores.


Chief-of-Staff Noel Duldulao

KaPrimers were also treated to a simple merienda, where each letter of the iSTEP corresponded to a snack- I for ice scramble, S for  sandwich, T for taho, E for ensaymada, and P for puto. They also enjoyed taking photos and videos of their commitment to the iSTEP at the photo booth.

At the end of the day, Primer Group shall continue its transformation journey and encourages all employees to join in while carrying, living, and breathing the iSTEP core values.


Photos by Arjay Yano, Arielle Primer Group Marketing Services Department

Text by Mia Lauengco