‘Ayala boy’ makes good
CEBU CITY—When Jose Soberano III started his real estate company in 2003 with an affordable housing project in the northwestern Cebu town of Balamban, he gave out soft drinks and sandwiches to his potential customers.
It was his hands-on attempt to introduce Cebu Landmasters, Inc. (CLI) as a trusted brand in the housing development business.
It was also his way of attracting future homeowners, mostly employees of a shipbuilding company in that part of Cebu.
Twelve years later, CLI has become a leading local developer.
According to a 2016 survey by real estate services and advisory firm CBRE Philippines, CLI registered P2.18 billion in sales in 2016 and has over 33 developments in various stages of construction.
The company is not slowing down its expansion pace, recently announcing its investment of another P12 billion in 11 projects across the Visayas and Mindanao.
These projects will rise in Cebu, Iloilo, Bacolod, Dumaguete, Cagayan De Oro and Davao.
CLI also caters to different income segments to capture as big a slice as possible of the real estate market.
“We believe our growth story is the result of a keen understanding of the VisMin (Visayas and Mindanao) market, which is highly focused on getting the best values. We promise our homeowners hands-on service and we will deliver that. We will not be out of reach just because we have grown so much,” said Soberano.
Soberano credits his 23 years of working with the Ayala group for honing his skills in running a business.
His experience included various stints with Ayala Investments, Bank of the Philippine Islands and Ayala Land Inc.
When it was decided that an Ayala Land subsidiary would be established in Cebu, Soberano became part of the pioneering group that built Cebu Holdings, Inc. (CHI) from the ground up.
Two of the major urban developments within Cebu City—Cebu Business Park and Cebu IT Park—were set up at the time when Soberano was with CHI.
He was CHI vice president until he left the company in 2000.
In 2003, he started his own company.
“I have always been an Ayala boy. I am grateful for my knowledge and the experiences I learned when I was with the company. I have deep respect for them and look up to them as big brothers,” said Soberano.
Based on its aggressive developments, Soberano is fast catching up with his “big brothers.”
Three of CLI projects are in two Ayala developments.
The 24-story Latitude Corporate Center Cebu will be completed in 2019 and is located within Cebu Business Park. The office-condominium venture Park Centrale and the mixed-used project 38 Park Avenue, on the other hand, are within the Cebu IT Park.
The 2016 CBRE Philippines survey noted that CLI was the top local condominium developer with an 11-percent share, second only to Ayala Land’s 17 percent.
Soberano is married to Maria Rosario “Marose” and father to Jose Franco, Joanna Marie, Janella Mae and Jose Gabriel.
Soberano, who was born and raised in Cebu, got his economics degree from the Ateneo De Manila University in 1976.
He then completed the Strategic Business Economics Program at the University of Asia and the Pacific.
Soberano also completed the Advanced Management Development Program in Real Estate at Harvard in July 2015.
Such an education has served him well in his business.
Meanwhile, Marose, an accountant, is the company’s executive vice president for finance.
Jose Franco is the senior vice president and chief operating officer while Joanna Marie is vice president and marketing director.
Janella Mae, who has a marketing background, will soon join the company.
Jose Gabriel is still finishing his degree at the Ateneo.
“Our parents let us pursue our careers outside of the company. After graduation, there was an unofficial four-year period where we gain experience from other fields. In my case, it took me seven years. They wanted the decision to join the company to come from us,” said Joanna Marie, who worked for a multinational company abroad prior to coming home to Cebu.
Jose Franco said they were particular with their brand names and the company’s reputation.
This is why in some residential developments, they sit as ex-officio members of the homeowners association.
“We make home ownership possible for every hardworking Filipino. When we build our projects, we always think that we will be delivering these projects to people we know,” said Jose Franco.
Jose Franco also said they consider the company’s 170 employees family members, a value that was started by his father.
“As family members, we talk and discuss our projects very openly. Decision making is swift and that is very important for a local developer like Cebu Landmasters,” he said.