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On Creating Value & Joyfulness

GD Holdings Founder and Executive Chairman, Dato’ Sri David Yeat started his venture into property development in 2009 as he realizes that the industry is very challenging yet rewarding.

He also believes strongly on the principles of creating value and joyfulness for all his home buyers by developing innovative, quality and comfortable homes at affordable prices.

As an innovative, caring and responsible property developer, he strongly believes in delivering the best quality homes yet with high potential value appreciation to his buyers.

“It is always important to have a strong sense of accomplishment out of everything we do,” he tells Property Insight.

Although Yeat is a seasoned entrepreneur, he has gone through the same challenging situation as all the other businessmen do when stepping into this new industry. There are bound to be challenges ahead for anyone who chooses to venture into a new industry, he says.

“The first three years was the toughest period for us. Prior to GD Holdings, we were in the business of biotech. Switching from biotech to property development, we were looking at a completely different business model and operations,” he adds.

“We paid a price as we were new and unfamiliar with cost management and operations of development projects. However, we managed to overcome these hurdles by facing up directly with all the challenges and resolved them immediately and amicably.”

In order to address the over estimation of project development cost as the best way to improve the profit margin, he has taken a lot of pain and hard work to learn and accumulate all the necessary market information and technical knowledges on the prices and supplies of the raw materials and labours.

Besides, he started to form a strategic and professional team to deal and source all the pertinent raw materials and contractors directly without going through the agents or middlemen to improve the cost structure without compromising on the quality.

He has to personally roll up his sleeves and work closely with his team members including his top management to relook at every project detail and recalculate the entire project development costs holistically.

“By adopting the above cautious approach and the full dedication from his team, the whole cost structure was re-established and well managed until a significant reduction was achieved upon completion of the project. It has proven to be a right and crucial decision made during that difficult period as the end result was a huge difference as compared to the original projected cost.” he says.

After this experience, GD Holdings continues to spend laborious hours to manage the project costing and ensure that the savings and high-quality products are achieved and delivered to the home buyers. “This is important because it is the responsibility entrusted upon us by the home buyers.

“It is our corporate mission as an innovative, caring and responsible property developer to deliver quality completed properties at affordable prices on time.” Asked on how he positioned GD Holdings to stand out among its competitors, Yeat says, “Competition exists across all industries. For the past 30 years of being an entrepreneur, I have never wasted any time thinking of how to defeat my competitors but strongly believe in differentiation for any new undertakings.

“In contrast, as outlined in our corporate motto, ‘Dare To Be Different’, I have always focussed on encouraging my team in all my businesses to carve out their own paths. That was one of the main reasons I chose Nilai as the first location to start my property development business.

“It was only prudent for me to stay away from the rife competition in Kuala Lumpur, while there is ample opportunities and under-development in Nilai for the company to explore and excel instead of burning away good money for bad money in KL and also sucked up a lot of resources, time and energy unnecessarily,” he recalls.

Developing a Mega and Integrated Township

GD Holdings differentiates itself from other property developers by developing the type of projects which are distinctive and unique in the market, he states.

“We do not just focus too much on competing with design, price and renovation. Our developments come with the unique concept of multifaceted and vibrant township planning,” he adds.

Speaking on the short-term goals of GD Holdings, Yeat says that at the moment, it is best for the company to manage an average project gross development value (GDV) of approximately RM2 billion annually.

“Based on our own projection, we will start achieving this value by end of this year and hit a sales revenue of over RM1 billion.”

He has also laid down a long-term goal for the company, which is to maintain a steady GDV growth and break into the list of top-five ranked property developers in Malaysia within the next 10 years.

Yeat has a vision on the value he intends to create for the home buyers. “At GD, we always strive to build homes with ‘life’, which must not only offer homes with great quality and various 5-star facilities, but will also generate huge value appreciation in the near future due to the development of other GD supporting and complementing projects surround it.

“As part of our thoughtful product development plan, for serviced apartment units in Youth City, we are bringing in the latest Japanese technology known as the Syswo Modular Bathroom System which acts as a permanent solution to water leakage and bathroom bacteria, which are common problems for residents in high-rise buildings,” he highlights.

According to Yeat, the modular toilets come in sets, each of which includes bathroom walls, roof, floor, all internal fittings, external water fittings and electricity circuits.

The toilets are built with airplane wall fibre material which is near unbreakable and the special floor tile coated with a layer of Nano chemical, which does not retain moisture, ensuring that the bathroom surface and flooring are dry most of the time.

“This modular bathroom is one of our main differentiating factors which will not only solve the water leakage issue but also ensure that the bathroom is bacteria free for life.”

Vision City is a 50-acre freehold mega project in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan. It comprises a multifaceted development project which includes a 4-tower serviced apartments with 3,213 units known as Youth City, a first and last destination tourist mall and hotel, a world class exhibition and convention centre with the largest building material mall attached, the first Valley styled Vision Theme Park and an International Education Hub.

Currently, the mega project is in its first phase of developing Youth City, a huge clubhouse of 150,000 sq ft, 4 roof-top facilities with different themes and a retail component on 7.88 acres of land.

The name of Youth City was chosen as the main purpose of the project is to inject vibrancy into Nilai by retaining young people and attracting first time house owners to Nilai. Towards this aim, the units are affordably priced, starting at RM230, 000, and come with various 5-star facilities and amenities to cater for the younger generation’s lifestyles.

These surrounding facilities and amenities include a shopping mall, gym, and co-working spaces, says Yeat. This arrangement caters to the needs of younger home buyers that fall into the age group of between 20 and 45 years old.

Yeat says that one of the main attractions in Vision City is the 150,000 square feet private clubhouse which provides an Olympic swimming pool and all types of sports facilities, where the residents can utilise as a privileged club-member and enjoy them as a reception area for their visiting friends.

“With a full range of amenities within Vision City, home buyers will be able to access food and beverage outlets, entertainment and work, other than having a comfortable place to stay. This is like a self-contained community and driving will not really be necessary as most amenities are within walking distance,” he adds.

The township development is located right in the Golden Triangle of Nilai, surrounded by many significant developments. These developments include the second largest AEON Jusco Mall in Malaysia with built-up space of 1.2 Million sq ft, Sime Darby Trading Hub, Giant and Tesco Hypermarket, as well as the duty-free outlets nearby.

Vision City is also easily accessible via six highways namely the North-South Expressway (PLUS), North Klang Valley Expressway (NKVE), Maju Expressway (MEX), Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong (LDP), South Klang Valley Expressway (SKVE), and Lebuhraya Kajang-Seremban (LEKAS).

It is also strategically located near the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and KLIA 2, which are just a 15-minute drive away.

“The property industry has always been supported by the same theory of Supply and Demand, that is high population demand with low number of units supplied will increase the value of the property, whereas low population demand with high number of units supplied will certainly decrease the value,” says Yeat.

The keys to attracting home buyers to any development project are ensuring a comfortable and convenient living environment, and its potential value appreciation, he states.

He says Mont’ Kiara became an affluent township with high population density simply because of its continuous development, where schools, shopping malls and other amenities were built.

“However, if there are too many developments in the area, the township could become very congested. This is a serious matter to be taken note by both the authorities and the developers,” he cautions.

Drawing back to Nilai, he is confident that the town’s population will increase tremendously. Nilai is already an important education hub which houses 28 major education institutions, such as Nilai University, Inti International University, International Islamic University, Manipal International University, and Epsom International School.

The town is also strategically located within the development of the Malaysia Vision Valley (MVV) that plans to draw a huge RM290 billion in investments.

Due to MVV’s five strategic clusters namely the Central Business District, Nature City, Edu-Tech Valley, Tourism and Wellness and New Liveable Township with a potential creation of 1.38 million job opportunities, Nilai stands to benefit greatly therefrom.

As Negeri Sembilan continues to urbanise rapidly, the state will need to diversify its housing supply to include higher percentage of high-rise properties. This is apparent as we can see the demand for smaller units of housing from a large student population in Nilai, placing the town as an obvious and strategic location to invest for high rental yield.

An Entrepreneur from a Humble Beginning

Yeat became an entrepreneur more out of necessity as he grew up in a hard and tough environment. “My family was relatively poor, and I wasn’t performing well academically in school. Left with limited options, I decided to step into the society in search of opportunities to earn a living at the age of 16,” he explains.

He denies the claims by certain individuals that luck was on his side at the beginning of his entrepreneurial journey. It is mere hard work and perseverance.

“When I first tried to build a business, the challenges I faced was much bigger than expected and imagined. I was on my own without any financial backing whatsoever. However, I acknowledged the various problems and strived to look for solutions to help my business to progress.

“Once a problem is spotted or surfaced, we should immediately have a discussion with parties involved to resolve and formulate an amicable solution,” he says.

Yeat says that there are always indicative signs before a challenge arises. Throughout his 30 years as an entrepreneur, the biggest challenges he had encountered are currency exchange rate during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, conflict of values with business partners, and negligence in business management.

“Neglecting management particularly the overseas investment had caused me to incur huge losses in capital and equity,” he adds.

He opines that for an enterprise to have steady growth in Malaysia, it must take things one step at a time. “Business development, talent and staff management and funding capability must be performed effectively and concurrently, as well as avoid taking up too much financing or gearing with financial institutions.

“Learning from my previous failures, none of the abovementioned three should grow at a different pace and direction as it will adversely affect the balance within the enterprise which will eventually lead to various business and systemic risks.”

Asked on what he will do differently if given the chance to start his career all over again, Yeat says, “Having gained valuable experience now, many of my previous decisions will be made differently now. This is to ensure that my businesses will grow steadily and more sustainable.”

An entrepreneur who is reaping result from his persistent hard work, Yeat has been working more than 12 hours daily since the age of 16. “Compared to some other entrepreneurs, I lead a simple lifestyle where there is minimal entertainment involved.”

Most of his working hours are well spent on maintaining the balance within GD Group of companies, including critical matters relating to human resources, business development, cash flow management, and network expansion.

“This is vital to our group’s sustainable development and I am also glad to be supported by an excellent management team,” he says.

Establishing the Malaysia-Foshan Chamber of Commerce

Although he has a busy daily schedule, Yeat still managed to find time to contribute to the establishment of a business association known as The Malaysia-Foshan Chamber of Commerce (MFCC).

In fact, he was instrumental in the planning and setting up of the chamber of commerce until it was officially registered with the Registry of Societies Malaysia in 2016.

He invited his close business associates such as Malaysia Entrepreneurs’ Development Association President, Dato’ Tony Looi, SME Association President, Datuk Michael Kang, and Branding Association of Malaysia President, Datuk Eric Chong to jointly manage and operate the MFCC together.

Playing the role of the President, Yeat says that MFCC encourages bilateral trade and networking activities on building materials between Malaysia and Foshan City. It also promotes cross border collaboration on trade and investment between Malaysian and Chinese small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

“Foshan is a leading city in Guangdong Province, China with a population of around 8 million. It is well known for its furniture and building material industries, which have huge production capacities.”

He says that currently Chinese manufacturers have the latest technologies equipped in their factories. “Gone are the days where 20 years ago we have the common perception of products which were made in China were of low quality.

“Now, China is capable of producing high-quality goods. It is only a matter of whether the buyers can afford the high-quality goods.”

He says that many factories in China are engaging high level of automation, hence minimising the human errors from happening in the production line. Their quality control has also reached a very high standard, he adds.

“In line with the Chinese government’s Belt and Road initiatives and in order to ensure sustainable growth in the industry, many of these sizeable manufacturers are planning to go abroad to tap the global markets for their quality products.” He added.

He says Malaysian businesses can play a vital role in helping these Chinese manufacturers trade their products, because Malaysians have an edge in cross-border and regional trades as we can speak fluently in few languages particularly English and Mandarin.

“Through MFCC, we have plans to bring over 300 building material manufacturers from China to Malaysia, with the purpose of exploring business matching opportunities and strategic alliances with the local players as a formidable force to be reckoned with in the international arena,” he highlights.

“On a voluntary basis, our chamber of commerce will assist them to obtain all the necessary licenses, as well as documents for import and export purposes. Other than the licensing and application fees for documents, we do not levy any additional fees on the Chinese manufacturers.”

Yeat points out that it is important to establish a bridge between the building material manufacturers in China and Malaysian property developers initially so that there will be ample low hanging fruits to be tapped by both parties.

“For any business deals done here in Malaysia, we will encourage them to trade and settle in ringgit in order to enhance our currency internationally.” he adds.

As a seasoned entrepreneur, Yeat opines that success is achieved progressively through continuous efforts and there are two major requirements for such achievement.

“Firstly, you need to be a good and sensible human being. The second requirement is to ensure you deliver on what has been promised.”

The value of integrity is very key to be a successful entrepreneur, he says. “Build your integrity by delivering what you have promised to company’s shareholders, partners and clients.”

Giving his advice to budding entrepreneurs, he states, “Anyone who plans to become an entrepreneur must conduct in-depth research on the industry which they plan to step in. Following that, they will need to possess all the courage to face the various challenges to start their own businesses,” he concludes.

BY JEFF TAN

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