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Born, educated, and raised in the Philippines, Leny Tulabot embarked on a new life with her husband when they moved to the island of Aruba in the 80s.
In 1989, Leny began working for the Ling family. The Lings opened Ling & Sons Supermarket in 1965, which eventually became the island’s first American-style grocery store, recognising and catering to the growing tourism market from North America and stocking the shelves with products visitors were familiar with.
However, Leny’s first role with the Lings was not in the supermarket; she was the nanny for Mrs. Ingrid Ling. But once Mrs. Ling learned of Leny’s former career as an executive secretary in the Philippines, she began bringing home paperwork for her to assist with. Recognising Leny’s talent and versatility, she offered her a job at Ling & Sons.
Leny worked in multiple departments, including merchandising, cashier, and purchasing, eventually becoming Mrs. Ling’s assistant and right hand. When the Lings sold the supermarket to the Dutch company Van Den Tweel Supermarket, Leny was named assistant store manager. When store ownership changed hands again in 2018 to the Jamaican company Van Den Tweel Caribbean Food Group, she was promoted to store manager.
Leny credits the Lings for fostering a work environment that encouraged growth and instilled confidence in its employees. “They didn’t just invest in the company; they invested in their employees and promoted a can-do mentality,” shares Leny, which is still a part of the work culture at Ling & Sons today.
Leny also credits the wise move to cater to the North American market before other stores recognized the value of stocking familiar American products on the shelves. Aruba’s timeshare owners—with full kitchens in their units—frequented Ling & Sons for their vacation grocery needs. Their annual outing to shop was a reunion with many of the store’s employees who have remained there for years. It’s a tradition that still carries on today.
In addition to the large selection of American products, Ling & Sons is also known for its extensive line of ethnic products. “Aruba has so many different cultures and nationalities living and visiting here, so we want to ensure we are serving everyone’s grocery needs,” explains Leny.
Leny is grateful for the opportunities that have come her way—as well as her four children—since her move to Aruba. She feels that between the foundation and reputation the Ling’s built over the years, combined with the exciting evolution of the store—including a new Dutch-style bakery and coffee shop—that the legacy that began in 1965 will continue to see Ling & Sons as the island leader and trendsetter in the supermarket industry. She also wants to extend her sincere gratitude to the current directors/owners, her very supportive boss, her management team and more specially to her diligent staff.
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