8990 Holdings Inc. chief operating officer Willy J. Uy has always been a housing man. After working for PHINMA Corporation™ for 36 years, he learned the virtues of steady patience in the cyclical business of real estate development
“The business is about striving to reach above and beyond your limits, strategizing, working efficiently to sell, producing high quality products—but most of all, it’s integrity. It comes from the heart,” he told the Manila Standard during a press lunch hosted recently by 8990 Holdings.
Latching on to the right formula
“I was never an architect or engineer; I never knew anything in property development,” confessed the marketing management graduate from De la Salle University. “All I did was listen to people, attend meetings, learn from those knowledgeable people, and always, always network. You’ll eventually find the right formula,” he said.
Uy worked in PHINMA fresh out of college at an entry-level position, doing project studies and urban planning, before moving on to become treasurer of the PHINMA Properties holding company. In 1997, one of the company founders admired his vision for growth across the Philippines, and Uy eventually worked his way up to President and CEO.
Uy moved to 8990 Holdings, a mass housing developer, in 2016 and assumed a more active role in the company’s operations when chief executive officer Januario Jesus Gregorio B. Atencio III stepped down from his post several months later.
Under Atencio’s watch, the company built a total of 50,370 housing units spread out across 50 projects. Its landbank stands at 655.55 hectares, including 191 hectares valued at P5 billion.
Last year, 8990 Holdings targeted P10 billion in revenues, which generated a net income of P4 billion to P5.4 billion.
Uy said the company intends to allocate P3 billion in capital expenditures in 2018 to support the construction of its projects as well as the acquisition of land properties.
“We’re looking at P3 billion (for the whole 2018),” he said.
This is 50% higher than the P2 billion the company has allocated for projects in 2017.
8990 chief financial officer Roan Buenaventura-Torregoza said the funds will primarily be used for the construction of projects and land acquisitions.
“Mostly for the construction of high-rise. Pero on landbanking, we’ve just replenished yung land bank namin. Because our land bank strategy is 500 hectares at any given point in time. So replenishment,” Ms. Torregoza said.
At the same time, 8990 will be launching five projects worth P60 billion in sales. These will be spread out in Cebu, Iloilo, Ortigas, and Davao with two projects lined up.
The company added that more projects may be launched next year depending on the processing of permits from regulators.
“It’s more driven by how fast the permits can come out. Because now it’s quite long, although it’s more predictable now, it’s hard to say,” Uy said.
Uy revealed that 8990 Holdings will start selling units at its Ortigas project by the first quarter of 2018, as soon as the company secures the license to sell from the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB). So far, the company has signed a contract to construct six buildings within the area.
“We can start selling already. HLURB is quite strict: we just want to make sure that we have everything in place before we start accepting reservations,” Uy said.
The 8990 Holdings executive said the project will be similar in size to its Tondo development, where the company is currently constructing 13 residential buildings offering 13,212 condominium units and 2,226 parking lots.
The Ortigas project will also have a mall, which will begin construction in late 2018, as the company looks to take advantage of the market once residents start moving in the condominium.
The Ortigas avenue extension project involves the development of 33,000 condominium units in 12-storey buildings. It would have a full-sized community mall called Deca Mall.
Uy added they see potential mall developments complementing their housing projects.
“This is something we can’t wait to get into. As long as it can serve our market that’s big enough,” he said, adding the project may be replicated in other vertical developments with more than 10 buildings.
Keeping customers’ best interest at heart
As 8990 Holdings’ main man, Uy’s responsibilities are maintaining the company’s progress and dealing with challenges, continuing to find growth opportunities, and looking for more places to develop properties.
With the mindset of a businessman, Uy says he constantly works on the difficult task of keeping the consumers’ best interests at heart. His company’s focus on integrity and affordability is just that, keeping in mind concerns of the high expense of real estate in urban areas, as well as the long and tedious commute city-goers often take to and from work. As leader of a major mass housing developer Uy’s work focuses on comfort over the high cost of living—making housing in the Philippines “more affordable with mass appeal.”
“With 8990 Holdings, “we build something to allow the majority of Filipinos something to truly aspire to—owning their own home.”
Queried on what foundation he bases his life and work on, Uy was quick to answer: “humility. That, and building relationships and projects with quality and integrity.”