With more than 23 years’ experience working in real estate in the Philippines, Jose Juan Jugo has seen the industry prove its resilience in more ways than one.
"The industry had already been through so much long before I was part of it," he tells The CEO Magazine.
"But we pulled through, the industry pulled through. There was the Asian financial crisis and we pulled through. Then we had the global financial crisis. We pulled through."
Now, as Director and Executive Vice President of Shang Properties, Jugo identifies three main challenges ahead – firstly, rising costs. "Even without the current supply chain issues, rising costs are always an issue in this industry," he says. "The more demand there is then, by nature of supply and demand, the higher costs will become."
But now, with global events creating a different set of challenges, Shang Properties is working to navigate these concerns. Jugo stresses that raising prices is not the right solution for this as it will simply create new issues for the company and price it out of the market.
Labor shortages are also a major concern due to rising demand in the property and construction industries over the last five-to-10 years. Once again, that resilience demonstrated during those events of yesteryear is coming into play.
"Now, we have COVID-19, we pulled through. So now with the current supply chain issues, inflation and rising fuel prices, we’ll definitely pull through," Jugo declares.
It’s a confidence that is built on preparation. The company took a long-term view during the pandemic period, acquiring new land. This decision means it is now in a strong position to weather any further storms.
Even without the current supply chain issues, rising costs are always an issue in this industry.
"We’re prepared to launch new projects, we’re prepared for growth," Jugo says proudly. Now, with the pipeline in place, the team just needs to decide when it is the right time to "push the button". "The readiness is there and all we have to do now is to decide when we do this."
Before he even joined the company, Jugo was able to see its strengths. "From the outside looking into Shang Properties, I saw the agility, the nimbleness and the attention to detail that is put into every project," he recalls.
"Shang Properties really is that way and it’s a wonderful place to work."
Because we are a very select developer, we have the flexibility to make each project unique.
Instead of churning out projects one after the other, Shang Properties takes a more considered approach. "Whatever we put in the market, we want to be very meaningful and very impactful," Jugo stresses.
"The strategy is to be lean and to be very select and to be very detailed as opposed to being very widespread."
Reviewing the design process will be high on the agenda over the coming years. "The technology will follow, but the very basic thing that we have to review in this industry or in this company, which we are doing, is how to make designs more efficient," he says.
Flexible and agile
Shang’s projects have to be architecturally beautiful yet commercially sensible at the same time. "Because we are a very select developer, we have the flexibility to make each project unique," Jugo explains.
With so much experience in the industry under his belt, Jugo feels confident in saying that Shang Properties carries out every project "meaningfully, carefully and thoughtfully". "The bones of our projects are really excellent," he says.
We’ve chosen to be very lean and very select and that gives us that advantage.
"Although we might not be widespread and our footprint might be smaller than the big developers here, we’re able to pay so much attention to detail, not just at certain levels of the company but throughout."
This forms the basis of its current communications campaign, which aims to get across the message that the consumer is at the center of everything that Shang does."We’ve chosen to be very lean and very select and that gives us that advantage," he reflects.
While the bigger companies may award their projects to in-house contractors, Shang Properties takes a different approach. "Due to our size, we work with different companies to complete constructions, probably more so than other local developers," Jugo says. As a result, the company takes great care of its relationships with its suppliers in order to keep working together.
"We’re a much smaller company, so we have to outsource many things, and so we spend a lot of time making sure that our relationships with our contractors and our suppliers are taken care of and that they’re treated properly, treated fairly, and we take that very seriously."
As Shang Properties’ project pipeline grows, it will start looking into strategic partnerships with suppliers. "It’s something we are looking into because we will have more projects and as a company we really want to continue growing after the next launches," he says.
"Whether residential, retail, office or serviced apartments, we want to do more, but selectively. We are here to stay so we need to ensure we have good and sustainable relationships with suppliers, business partners and other key stakeholders."
We are here to stay so we need to ensure we have good and sustainable relationships with suppliers, business partners and other key stakeholders.
Jugo is quite clear that Shang Properties is posed for growth and that it is truly committed to the Philippines. "Our intention really is to make sure that we are able to give back to the Philippines whatever we can in terms of great products, whatever product that may be – retail, office, residential, hospitality," he says.
"Our intention is to continue being a mainstream player, but a very focused mainstream player. Our intention really has never been to be a very large dominating player."
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