Green builder a major force in property sectorBy Theresa S. Samaniego
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The pathway that leads to great success in property development is a treacherous one especially in a country with a volatile market environment like the Philippines.
However, there are a few who have managed to master the tract and come out victorious in its quest.
Though not completely unscathed, Carlos S. Rufino, the Urban Land Institute founding chair and the man behind The Net Group, has managed to rise above the odds and successfully etched his name on the list of the most respected and accomplished builders in the country.
How he was able to do this? Your guess is as good as mine, his perseverance and experience brought him to great heights of success.
And as a builder who has seen and witnessed the highs and lows of the industry, Rufino has quite a story to share.
Allow Inquirer Property to let you in on the colorful journey Rufino had in his quest to provide the country with quality, world-class developments.
Question: When and how did you get involved in the real estate business? Has it always been your dream to build? What was your childhood dream?
Rufino: When I graduated from college I was tasked to complete a stalled building project which was a family joint venture. Since I was the only one available, I couldn’t refuse. I never thought that I would love real estate since my childhood dream was all about playing golf and driving cars.
Q: What convinced you to venture in property development?
R: My father and his brothers were into real estate having owned a string of theaters in downtown Manila. So it was already in the blood as they say.
They built the Rufino Building on Ayala Avenue in the ’60s and in the ’70s a good family friend introduced us into subdivision development.
(The Rufinos first residential development is Tahanan Village which is near Sucat Road and later Corinthian Gardens in Quezon City.)
Q: Who influenced you to go into property development?
R: This gentleman [named] Bandoc Mercado was my mentor. He taught me the ABCs of development and also hid the chessboard when he found out I played chess with the agents which distracted them from work.
Another mentor was an American, a long-time Philippine resident, Albert Capotosto, who taught me that when you designed for quality you got profit, when you designed for profit you do not usually get profit. I truly believe that he was right.
Q: What were the challenges you encountered in the real estate? How did you overcome these?
R: I have been through the cycles, from the years after [Benigno] Aquino’s assassination and the country [went] broke to the boom during President Fidel Ramos’ time which was [again] followed by the Asian Crisis in 1997.
Now the real estate scene is bullish with the demand coming from overseas Filipino workers and BPOs [business process outsourcing].
When the cycle is down it really isn’t easy swimming against the tide, but when things look bleakest it is when the opportunity arises. Buy low, sell high they say, but the timing is really an art. Decisions made in bad times are usually better than those in headier ones.
Q: What do you think is the secret behind your success?
R: I suppose more than anything else it is perseverance and experience. Success is avoiding doing the same mistake twice because you really have no one to blame the second time around.
Q: Is there any particular belief/mantra that you follow?
R: I always advise my sons who are in the business that ’it is what you inspect not what you expect that gets done.’
Q: What is the greatest reward that you’ve received from being one of the major players in the real estate business?
R: We really need a compelling business story for the institutional investment community to consider the country. The world-class BPO/Shared services story is one that resonates and is readily understood as a comparative advantage of our country.
The young and educated English-speaking population with 500,000 graduates a year makes their business scalable for growth. My greatest reward is to have an audience in international real estate conferences asking more about doing business here than just asking about the best beaches around.
Q: What do you think is your company’s greatest contribution to society, to the property industry in particular?
R: As a (Philippine Economic Zone Authority) Peza-registered facilities provider we make possible the easy entry of companies looking to save costs in the country. They in turn hire young graduates who otherwise would be hard put in finding entry-level jobs with comparable compensation.
Q: What legacy would you want your developments to leave?
R: My company would love to leave a legacy of land stewardship. The American Indian saying goes, “Land is not inherited from our forefathers, rather it is borrowed from our children.”
We are doing a new series of green buildings. Using our history of managing buildings, we are choosing among the many green initiatives those that make a lot of sense.
(The Net Buildings are known to abide by green standards such as providing natural light and ventilation in our parking floors, sunscreens that minimize heat gain on our windows, reusing condensate water from air-conditioning to washing cars and irrigation of the landscaped areas, these are high on our checklist. Also air-conditioning that can be shut off from rooms not being used, since 40 percent of the total office area is not in use on an average.)
Q: How are you as a boss?
R: I believe I am a good listener if you are making sense, I tune out if you are just giving a memorized sales pitch.
Q: What’s your management style?
My style is management by walking around. I follow the mantra, ‘It is what you inspect not what you expect that happens.’
Q: If you were not a businessman, where do you think would you be?
R: I don’t fancy myself being anything else, since no one in my family can sing or dance if our lives depended on it.
Q: How do you spend your free time?
R: I love sports like golf and tennis, and also driving to areas without traffic.
I also enjoy the company of friends and relatives, my siblings and I are very close. My life would be built around harmony and mutual respect for others.
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