Marcelo and Anicia Carlos, Platinum Care Group, Inc.

In it to win it: Business that never quits

By Yoly C. Tumangan Tubalinal

Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men. –Proverbs 22:9, KJV

For the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity. —Proverbs 24:16 ESV

Marcelo and Anicia Carlos, founders/owners of Platinum Care Group Incorporated, a small business that sent caregivers to homes, hospitals, assisted living and other senior facilities are currently a vision of quiet success. This small care-giving business they ventured into in 2006 along with its sister company, Advocate Wellness LLC is now a multi-million dollar company with branches in Phoenix, Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada. Taking their enterprise to the next level, the Carloses are now in the process of franchising their business models to other places in the U.S.
But business was never easy for this couple, whose life’s journey has been filled with challenges and tests that would have been more than enough to douse if not altogether extinguish the flame of perseverance and determination in anyone. Not this couple, though. For each time bad luck knocked them down, they rose just as quickly and vigorously, with twice the determination and perseverance to make it, this time around.

Finding their niche in the U.S.

After the assassination of Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino in 1983, many Filipinos, Marcelo and Anicia Carlos included, felt the urge to leave the country. For one, they started feeling the brunt of Martial Law sanctions in their everyday lives, especially in business, where getting financing became quite a struggle. Marcelo and Anicia thought it was time to seek their fortune in the country most Filipinos viewed as the land of opportunities, “the land of milk and honey.” On June 20, 1986, the couple left the Philippines for the U.S.
Here in the U.S., Marcelo and Anicia found themselves in for a rude awakening. Far from the rosy paths of opportunities they had dreamed of, jobs didn’t come easy for them who had no college degrees. Anicia decided to take on a babysitting job while going for a certified nursing aid course. Later, she was employed as a live-in caregiver in the far south side of Chicago. Marcelo, on the other hand, was employed as a service adviser in a Chicago Ford dealership. Not making enough to support their life here and provide for the children they left behind, the couple decided after two years it was time to try their hands again in business.
With a five hundred dollar-loan from Irma Hartler, Anicia’s good hearted patient, Marcelo and Anicia founded Conde Carlo Imports, Inc. which imported handicrafts, later becoming a wholesale distributor of silk flowers, plants and trees. They sold and delivered to flea markets, dollar stores and flower shops in the Midwest, mostly in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana. In 1994 they opened a wholesale warehouse on the fifth floor of a building located at California Street in the south side of Chicago. Finally having their kids around proved helpful in the growth of their business, soon operating in three flea market sites. They were able to buy the house of Anicia’s patient and send their three children in college and two in high school.

The management team of Platinum Care Group, Inc. From left: Marquita Carlos, Johnny Mako, Mark Lazar and Charmaine Balagtas. Not in picture: Sandy Mayer, supervisor.

The management team of Platinum Care Group, Inc. From left: Marquita Carlos, Johnny Mako, Mark Lazar and Charmaine Balagtas. Not in picture: Sandy Mayer, supervisor.

But just when they thought they were getting closer to their American dream, tragedy struck. On September 17, 1997 the building housing their $175,000 inventory of merchandise burned down due to a faulty electrical wiring. Insurance paid them only $38,000 for the loss. In 1998 they resurrected their business in a store-front at Harlem Avenue in Elmwood Park, Illinois selling silk, fresh flowers, and other related decorative materials. A professional floral designer, Anicia did weddings, funerals, and other events.
In 2001 with real estate booming, Marcelo closed their floral business and shifted to real estate after obtaining his broker’s license and hooking up with Joe Gozun, broker/owner of Midwest America Realty. The new venture made him good money, acquiring a nice home in Bartlett, IL including thirteen rental investment properties. But five good years of real estate money was wiped out by the infamous real-estate housing bubble. Their house and all thirteen rental investment properties were lost to short sale and foreclosure.
But like wounded warriors who wouldn’t easily surrender, Marcelo and Anicia turned around and founded Platinum Care Group, Inc, a small business that sent caregivers to homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, and other senior facilities. They used their home in Glendale Heights, Illinois as their office until 2009 when they moved their business operations to Glover Leaf Business Center on Lake Street. Marcelo credits his wife Anicia’s experience as a caregiver for twenty-one years in helping grow the business. Today, Platinum Care Group and Advocate Wellness LLC are now multi-million dollar businesses with branches in Phoenix, Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada. They are currently in the process of franchising these business models to other states in the United States.

Life they lived and left behind

Far from the life they found and currently live in the U.S. was a daily dose of life in the limelight back in their native town of Nueva Ecija, where Marcelo and Aning’s voices filled the airwaves as popular radio announcers, while building one successful business after another. However, life was extremely hard at the beginning for Marcelo who had only a high school education. He tried everything to help his parents support a family of eight siblings. From driving a tricycle to mixing cement in construction sites, did all until his voice landed him a job as roving announcer and then, as drama talent at ABS-CBN Radio, doing soap operas alongside Eddie Ilarde in “Kahapon Lamang,” Cesar Nocum in “Kuya Caesar” and in “Tia Dely” and Ben David’s “Gabi ng Lagim.”
Fate brought him in Cabanatuan City in 1967 to manage DZYG radio station, where he met and eventually married in 1970 the love of his life, Anicia Vizconde, the station’s most popular radio announcer and Balagtasan queen. When then president, Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law, DZYG was closed but Mar and Aning, the names they were famously known for, continued on with their radio stint at DWAR radio and then, at DZCI, both in Cabanatuan City.
In 1970 Mar and Aning founded Carviz Agricultural Supplies, which distributed pesticide and fertilizer in Nueva Ecija. They also opened Conde Carlo Department Store in Cabanatuan City and managed and developed the BayanihanPag-Ibig Subdivision along the National Highway in Santa Rosa, Nueva Ecija. However, with business conditions proving to be more and more precarious, Mar and Aning started looking outside of the country. They left amidst chaos and demonstrations brought about by the assassination of Benigno Aquino.

Faith, philosophy and vision

Mar and Aning Carlos personify combined optimism, determination and perseverance in perpetual action. It’s been amazing how they never failed to rise from the ashes as their growing business literally went up in smokes or the profit and investments they made from a booming real estate business all vanished with the housing bubble of 2006.
But with this couple’s great attitude and most of all, faith, it shouldn’t really surprise anyone to see them waste no time rebuilding and recovering what they just lost rather than sulk and mope over something they had little or no control of. Asked to whom and what they credit their success, Mar and Aning mentioned Irma Hartler, who gave them the trust that’s quite rare these days; their hard work and experience in the Philippines, their children and above all, God.
Finally, Mar and Aning wish to thank their very reliable business team for what they have achieved so far: their administrator, Marquita Carlos, Johnny Mako, marketing and recruiting director, Mark Lazar, operations and financial manager and Charmain Balagtas and Sandy Mayer, supervisors. With a team like theirs, they are confident the best is yet to come. YT

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