by Cynthia Flores/Asianjournal.com
LOS ANGELES – As oil prices skyrocket, people look at biodiesel as an alternative to petroleum diesel. Among them is Filipino American Baltazar Fedalizo, owner of Biodiesel America. Incorporated (BAI).
Three years ago, during a gasoline price hike, when entrepreneur/ teacher /chef Baltazar Fedalizo began to seriously look into biodiesel. He realized he spent an average of over $500 a day on fuel running two Subway restaurants and an adult day care center.
The idea was inspired by Chef Jean Toume, Fedalizo’s co-worker at Le Cordon Bleu, California School of Culinary Arts.
“Biodiesel is used throughout France. I wonder why America hasn’t been on to it,” Toume said.
Fedalizo then contacted people in France about biodiesel. Emails were exchanged and he founded a new business venture – recycling fry oil to diesel or simply, biodiesel – Biodiesel America Incorporated.
BAI company now actively supplies many industries in the country with biodiesel. Among his major customers are the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, a move that he hopes will make people realize that “over a short period of time, biodiesel is not only better for the community and their work environment. Moreover, the fuel is consistently less expensive and it betters the environment.”
Fedalizo is a strong advocate of the environment. Many of the seniors in his healthcare center suffer from respiratory and bronchiolitis.
“It doesn’t matter how I feel all that matters is the goal,” said Fedalizo of his motto. This winning attitude has brought him two Subway restaurants with one store setting a milestone for the highest net sales in the history of LA County.
His Adult Day Health Care was recognized by California Association of Adult Day Services *(CAADS) as being the center with the most efficient operations for restoring the health, strength and soundness to over 300 senior members.
Fedalizo was born on Staten Island, New York. Wanting to follow his dad’s military career, he attended the United States Military Academy at WestPoint, New York. He eventually dropped out and finished college at CSU Long Beach, playing football, enjoying fraternity life, and ending up on academic probation.
In 1986, Fedalizo was sent to the Philippines by his father to check on some of the family’s property. Unfortunately, his father learned about his slacking in school and he was not given a return ticket.
“My dad said, ‘I have your transcripts in front of me, and you’ve been on academic probation for a year and a half.’ He wouldn’t let me come back. I had four years to think over there. I didn’t speak Tagalog at the time. My English was poor compared to theirs. They didn’t understand my American slang. I lived with my Lola in the provinces, and it was just me and the carabao and the chickens. People spoke to me in Ilocano and I had no idea what they were saying. So I just kept a diary,” Fedalizo said.
Fedalizo sent his father 1,200 pages of his repentance during his four years of exile in the Philippines. “You saw entries that were half a page, that grew to a full page, then grew to four or five pages for one day,” he said. Eventually, his father allowed him to return.
Upon his return, Fedalizo enrolled at Dominguez Hills. With his new commitment to completing his education, he set out to earn his four-year degree in two years.
“I looked at it as a business, not an academic setting,” he says. “When students put it in that paradigm, it will maximize their dollar, and they will value what they do in college. Schools are here to make money. So the faster I graduate and maximize my tuition, the more I win.”
Working 35 hours a week and taking 30 units a semester, Fedalizo was able to expedite his degree in the abbreviated time planned, drawing attention from local press and universities from across the country.
“Berkeley, Harvard, and Florida State said they would fly me out there to share my experiences,” he says. “Each one of them said, ‘You’re missing the college experience.’ I said, ‘I needed to get out of college. My job is not to stay there, that time for me is past already. I need to get out into the real world.’
Fedalizo then earned his MBA at the University of Redlands, did his thesis research on the spending habits of “junior seniors,” the boomer generation born in 1946. Once he completed his thesis, he began shopping the data around, selling it to venture capitalists, M.B.A. students at USC, and Molina Health Care.
With the proceeds, he was able to invest in Infinite Solutions Adult Day Health Care Center in Long Beach, which he owns and operates with a partner. He acquired a Subway franchise in San Pedro with former classmate Sean Gaultier in 2004, turning the lowest store out of 500 in LA County into the one with the highest net sales the following year, at a 146% increase. Fedalizo also teaches business administration at Pasadena City College, sharing his real-world acumen with students. He also studied Culinary Arts and became a chef and teacher.
Ironically, Fedalizo was recruited into the United States Navy Supply Core Officer Corps, a program for able-bodied entrepreneurs and high-level executives under the age of 40. Officer-candidates are chosen from those who have demonstrated an ability to manage and scale financial challenges while meeting milestones in their own or a corporation’s goals.
“I received a call, and they asked if I would be interested, they had seen my resume on Monster.com,” he says. “They were looking for business managers for their units, and that I would come in as a full lieutenant to help the supply corps, prevent cost overruns, manage supply chains, and to do it with a more entrepreneurial spirit.
Fedelizo hopes to bring an entrepreneurial spirit to the Navy akin to what he brought to all endeavours. “I am a believer in doing more with less,” he says. “I think I can bring a different kind of thinking to the table based on what I have accomplished so far.”