Proving Ground
    Category: Companies & People By : Ardian Wibisono Read : 2327 Date : Tuesday, August 06, 2013 - 06:20:13

    Courtesy of Sinar Mas Land

    One of the prime beneficiaries of the property boom is Sinar Mas Land, the property arm of the giant Sinar Mas group. For the past couple years it has been run by Michael Widjaja, 29 and the grandson of tycoon Eka Tjipta Widjaja, the third richest man in the country with an estimated $8 billion in net worth.

    The succession seems to be successful. Sinar Mas's property business is progressing well. Recently, Michael teamed up with the exhibition unit of Kompas Gramedia, Dyandra Media International, to build the largest conference hall in Indonesia in Tangerang and signed a deal to build 20 malls with Japan's biggest mall developer and operator Aeon. Its main listed company PT Bumi Serpong Damai has been one of the top performers in the property sector with its share price more than tripling in the last five years making it the biggest listed property firm in terms of market capitalization.


    After joining in 2007, Michael says he's working hard on learning the ropes while running the business. “I almost have no life. I am in charge of 15 to 20 projects a year, if I dedicate half of my time it would not be enough,” he says.

    Michael has a vision to take the business further. First is on the branding side. It was Michael's idea to set up Sinar Mas Land. He says the idea was to create a holding company under Sinar Mas with one brand and a single focus.

    The group had built many successful projects such as the Bumi Serpong Damai township, and the ITC malls built by its other listed subsidiary PT Duta Pertiwi. Other property players, such as Agung Podomoro, Ciputra and Lippo, have already adopted similar branding strategies.

    Michael also wants its property companies to listen more to what customers want. “A happy customer is a return customer,” he says. For this Sinar Mas Land has built a 5,000 square meter building for a customer care center in Bumi Serpong Damai. “We are the first in the industry to have a customer care center,” Michael claims, adding that the complaints are normally addressed within five working days. Besides satisfying customers, the care center would also serve as a feedback center. This customer center serves only the Bumi Serpong Damai area but it could also be rolled out in other Sinar Mas townships in Bekasi and Cibubur.

    Another project that is customer driven is the green district for offices, which is a low-rise building designed to suit Indonesia's tropical climate, thus minimizing the cost of energy and carbon track. Michael sees the demand for green buildings rising. “The dream is that people could walk without pollution from vehicles, people can sit outside and work, and have coffee while checking email. This kind of lifestyle you have not yet seen here but it is getting there,” he says. One of the major tenants is PT Unilever Indonesia and Michael says some oil companies are looking to move in as well soon. He is optimistic that someday the office district in Bumi Serpong Damai would be as fully occupied as the SCBD area in Jakarta. “Property prices and rents in Jakarta are growing and at some point companies will relocate to more competitive places,” he says.