“Success is not about money. Success is what you have done and accomplished.” These are the words Gerry Santos lives by. The founder and CEO of the highly successful Mr. Freeze Tube Ice Inc., Gerry has never equated success with financial gain. For him, it’s all about community building, helping out, and pursuing one’s passion. Money, he says, will come naturally.
Gerry was not born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth. He worked for his father, an ice distributor, while studying in college and right after graduation. After several years working for his dad’s business, the younger Santos resigned and decided to put up GJS Cars, an automotive buy and sell business. Cars were a passion for Gerry, and he was able to grow his business to a considerable degree.
After a while, he took a look back at his father’s business and saw that it’s gone stagnant. He saw this as an opportunity to go back to the ice biz. This time, however, in order to assure growth in the industry, he came back as an ice manufacturer. Armed with some capital saved from his automotive business and with a bank loan, he put up the first Mr. Freeze ice plant in 2005. The rest, as they say, is history.
One can assume having several ice plants is the most impressive aspect about Mr. Freeze. But looking beyond the business side, the most impressive thing is Gerry’s effort to involve and grow entire communities surrounding his ice plants. For him, the growth of the business won’t mean a lot if the community around it will not feel the positive effects of the plants.
Gerry seeks to uplift the quality of living around the areas of his ice plants through partnerships, creation of jobs, and through projects. The man truly is passionate not just with his business but with the positive impact it creates with the people he partners with.
Outside of his passion for work, Gerry is well known for his passion for cars. But what many are not aware of is that Gerry also loves to collect watches—which he feels are just apt for his lifestyle. The watches are his companions and are witnesses to his community-building. The watches—and cars—are also constant reminders for him that hard work and selflessness pay off big time.
Gerry was kind enough to allow Watch Manila a peek into his watch collection.
Similar to construction magnate Alice Eduardo and numerous others, Gerry’s first substantial watch was a Rolex Datejust in stainless steel and yellow gold. The Datejust is the most popular Rolex within the business community, especially prior to the 2010s. Not long after, Gerry purchased a steel Rolex Datejust in white face.
As Gerry started to get deep into watches, he explored more models from Rolex other than the Datejust. Gerry purchased a Rolex Submariner with reference number 14060. This watch is a famous diving tool for professionals and was also known as the watch of James Bond.
Aside from the Submariner, Gerry has two Rolex GMT-Masters. He has the models with the black and blue bezel and the golden brown and black bezel, respectively known in the watch collecting community as the “Batman” and the “Rootbeer”. Gerry loves the Batman as it has a relation to the character of “Mr. Freeze”. The Batman also has the subtle design elements which are most associated with the brand. The GMT-Master was developed initially for Pan-Am Airlines pilots who needed watches which could show the time in two different timezones simultaneously.
Gerry also keeps in his collection one of the most sought-after watches today, the Rolex Daytona with the ceramic bezel. The version which Gerry has is called the “Panda”—due to the contrast of the black and the white which makes it resemble the colorway of a panda. This is the latest iteration of the classic Rolex Daytona. This model has a waitlist time of over several years with authorized dealers. The watch is popular on the racing circuits as it has the ability to track lap times.
Apart from Rolex, Gerry collects from other brands. One of his more memorable watches is his Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra. He vividly remembers that during one of the golf tournaments he joined, the second prize for the raffle was the Omega and he whispered to himself that he would win it. As luck and fate would have it, his name was called as the winner of the Omega. He considers this as one of his lucky watches.
Gerry also has a Hublot Big Bang Ferrari which is limited to 1,000 pieces. He loves the design of the watch and always pairs it with the appropriate car in his stable. The watch looks very sporty and is made of ceramic and titanium.
The watches in Gerry’s collection are reminders of his life’s most valuable lessons. Here they are:
1. Be content.
One of the keys to happiness is to appreciate what you have in life rather than than what you have yet to possess. There will always be people who will have more than you and less than you. Gerry is never pressured to buy a watch simply because “the other guy has it.” He buys a watch when he likes it. He understands there will be people with nicer watches than he does, and that’s totally fine. Gerry is happy with his collection and happy for the collection of others. For him, turn any envy into a motivation to achieve what one wants. One day, with hard work, you will be able to reach your goals as well.
2. Learn how to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Gerry believes that the success you’re experiencing is because of your hardwork. Learn how to enjoy the benefits which come with the success. Gerry is a firm believer that having money doesn’t mean you have to live large. But he also believes that, occasionally, you should spend some of your hard-earned money on things which you are passionate about. For him, he loves spending on cars and watches, among others.
3. Give back.
Everyone regards Gerry as a very generous person. The guy believes that those who are truly blessed are those who share the most. For him, financial success is meant to be shared and not kept to oneself. No matter how big or small, when you share, it goes back to you a hundredfold.
4. Treat everyone with respect regardless of their status in life.
Gerry believes the world has been so kind to him because he’s treated everyone with high respect. His success has never made him arrogant. For this businessman, everyone plays an important role in society, regardless of your occupation or status in life.
Unlike the Mr. Freeze in Batman who was a villain, this Mr. Freeze, Gerry Santos, is a hero in the communities he builds. He’s gone beyond business in order to make an impact in society. Going further, he has already involved his children in Mr. Freeze to instill in them the importance of giving back to society. Now that’s one truly timeless legacy one can pass on to the next generation.
A version of this story was published by ABS-CBN.