His entrepreneurial spirit was sparked in Saudi Arabia. After observing the needs of fellow Filipino workers, he started to offer various small services to them remitting money to the Filipino workers families in the Philippines by asking a family member in Manila to deliver the peso equivalent to the beneficiaries and renting out videos.
It was in September 1992 when he decided to leave Saudi Arabia and fulfill the dream of going to America. He was one of the hopeful migrants that dreamt of starting his own business. It was in early 1993, after just barely 3 months in the United States, when he started his balikbayan box business. Starting as a co-loader, he shipped 6 boxes while operating in a small garage where he was renting a room.
The following years showed the remarkable progress of Atlas Shippers under the leadership of Joel P Longares, also known as JPL by his employees and friends. History proved that JPL's aggressive marketing paid off and launched Atlas Shippers as one of the top three balikbayan box providers.
The simple "Mom and Pop" operation eventually emerged as a giant corporation. It was in August 1995 when Atlas Shippers was incorporated, and moved to a bigger office to accommodate the astonishing growth in production from that of 1993.
Later years showed the birth of Atlas Shippers offices nationwide and worldwide. Most key cities and states have Atlas Shippers services, namely New Jersey; New York; Florida; Texas; Hawaii; Vancouver, Canada; Seattle, Washington; Alaska; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Washington D.C./Virginia/Maryland; New Orleans, Louisiana; and San Francisco, California; Chicago, Illinois; and many more.
Six years later, Atlas Shippers opened Atlas Shippers Delivery in the Philippines, and acquired its own building and warehouse facility in Las Pinas
It was in 2002 when Atlas Shippers was firmly established, and that was when JPL started branching out and providing related services to Atlas Shippers customers. With One-Stop Service in mind and a goal to complete the whole package, JPL organized various companies that would serve money remittance, travel and tours, manpower placement agency and Atlas brokerage.
Truly, JPL has the knack and lucky charm in running a business. JPL tied up with Equitable-PCI bank (which later became Banco de Oro) and in just a year of operation, the company increased its total volume by more than 50%. The company has slowly found its place and hub in the financial market. To date, it has serviced over $100 Million dollars in remittances.
Atlas Express Padala Money Remittance is one of the major players in the Filipino remittance industry. In recognition of its leading role in the money remittance industry, five major banks namely, Banco De Oro (BDO), Metro Bank, Bank of Philippine Island (BPI), RCBC and PNB have partnered with Atlas Express Padala for their money remittance business.
For those who would like to travel, Atlas Travel and Tours was created to offer affordable and reasonable tours and tickets. AXP Travel & Tours sells around 600 plane tickets a month. The agency also packages and brokers tours to the Philippines and elsewhere.
In the Philippines, JPL ventured into a Labor Recruitment Manpower Agency known as the 7107 Islands Placement Agency (www.7107islandsagency.com). The company recruits Filipino workers (nurses, factory and construction workers and other jobs) for companies all over the world, particularly in the Middle East. The company deployed thousands of workers to the Middle East, mostly welders, and engineers and factory workers in Singapore and Taiwan.
In January 2004, Longares put up the Atlas Express Brokerage with offices in Pasay City. The company handles the customs brokerage requirements of Atlas Shippers and several export and import firms from Australia, Italy, Canada, Taiwan and Japan.
In June 2009, he successfully launched Pinoy Weekly Publishing Corp. (www.thepinoyweekly.com), a weekly newspaper that publishes informative and balanced news from the Philippines and around the globe. JPL is exploring more business opportunities and his most recent venture in telecommunication and phone card is now taking place.
Despite his now comfortable life, Longares never stops working and looking for new opportunities. "Once I established a project, I move on to other things. I can decide at once if an opportunity would work. And once I have decided on a project, I work really hard to make sure it takes off well and promptly. I believe that any business can succeed if you really put hard work and dedication to it," Longares said. "I do not believe in failure. If there is a problem, I talk to my managers and find a solution at once. You have to listen to your employees and managers because they are the ones who observe the business operations more closely," he added.
With many companies under the Atlas Group, every single day in Longares life is hectic. When he is not busy visiting his offices, he checks his operations and directly coordinate with area managers and responsible employees. When help is short and work is more, JPL does not hesitate to help in loading and unloading of balikbayan boxes, operate the forklifts and stay up late to check his operations.
JPL credits his success to his family. JPL is a good provider and aspires more for his children. "I want to leave something more meaningful than money. I want to teach my children the value of determination and hard work. All the sacrifices I made have its value and purpose," JPL added. "I find comfort in work", Longares said. "I never stop looking to the future. The world continues to change, and each change offers new opportunities. A true entrepreneur always finds a need to fill. With the onset of globalization, the world opened new doors for everybody. One just has to look for the best door to enter," he added.