Alvin Ong Seng Piow or better known as Alvin Ong joined Country View Berhad on 21 June 2007 as the Senior Manager, Accounts & Services. He is responsible for and oversees the Group’s finance and Human Resource Department. He assumed the role of Chief Financial Officer on 1 February 2013. Alvin graduated with a professional degree in Management Accounting from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), UK in 1993. He was registered as a Chartered Accountant with the Malaysian Institute of Accountants in 1997 and also as a Chartered Global Management Accountant with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, UK.
Country View Berhad engages in property development, investment holding, and property investments. How challenging is it overseeing such diverse portfolios?
Every job would no doubt come with its own unique set of challenges, more so in today’s business environment that is constantly evolving. The respective elements of an organisation have to be coordinated and evolve in tandem with the changing business environment and industry it operates to stay current.
The emerging business and consumer trends, from the accelerated pace of change and disruptive innovations, team building/support and regulatory compliance demands have indeed intensified and calls for wider-ranging knowledge.
I’m indeed fortunate to have the support and valuable input from both top management and dedicated, long-serving colleagues who helped to shape the success of the company.
When we employ the right perspective, challenges presents opportunities for growth and fulfilment. A quote from Mark Zuckerberg, Co-founder and CEO of Facebook says “My hope was never to build a company. I was driven by a sense of purpose to connect people and bring us closer together”. Thus, when we have a sense of purpose to add value to the company, our colleagues, our customers, our surroundings, the challenges would soon turn into milestones of achievement and inner fulfilment in our journey of advancement.
Incorporated in 1981, Country View Berhad has been in the industry for a long time. How has your 10 year tenure been with the company and what advancements have you witnessed?
These 10 years have been extremely rewarding as the Group has progressed and keeps progressing. Significant milestones during the 10 years are improved performance and financials whereby the Group has turned around since I joined and achieved a record revenue and profit in 2013. The current gearing of the Group is low at 0.22 times as at 30th November 2016 whilst shareholders’ funds have also increased.
In terms of development, the Group has successfully completed and handed over Taman Nusa Bestari Jaya, Taman Nusa Indah and Residence at the Peak Bungalows. Certain phases of residential and commercial properties at our ongoing Taman Nusa Sentral were also completed and handed over. Our maiden foray into serviced apartments was well received and has become an iconic landmark at Taman Nusa Sentral.
The Company was also awarded the runner-up for Best Dividend Yield by the Focus business magazine for the Best Under Billion Awards category in 2015. The Company obtained the Asia Responsible Corporate Award (ARCA) under the category of “Environmental Conservation Award” in 2016.
Has the recent implementation of the tourism tax affected your business?
We have yet to see any significant impact or receive any negative feedback from guests thus far.
Your thoughts about the Iskandar property market as a whole?
Iskandar Malaysia has the potential to become one of South East Asia’s leading smart cities and an Asian international hub for manufacturing, commercial and services over the next decade, supported by the right government policies.
Catalytic projects in Iskandar Malaysia such as Legoland theme park, Educity, Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia and the future High Speed Rail (HSR) are part of the government’s initiatives to spur various industries like education, healthcare, tourism and creative content. This will augur well for the property industry as locals and foreigners need accommodation or homes in the Iskandar region.
While the flow of investment into residential and commercial property construction has surged in recent years, investment in manufacturing has also been strong, driven by multinationals seeking to relocate production facilities from Singapore due to the very high operating costs in the city state. This will benefit the industrial properties and indirectly has a spill over effect on other types of properties and investments.
The long term weakness of the ringgit against the Singapore dollar is another factor driving the flow of people and investment across the Straits into the property market here.
How competitive is it to sell properties in Iskandar currently from an economic point of view?
In our opinion, it takes strength to be a resilient developer to withstand the waves of the property industry’s ups and downs as well as face the challenges that are present in the market place.
A developer has many responsibilities. It is crucial to ensure that projects are built with proper concepts, with a basis of protecting customers and the environment. In Country View, we are always mindful of our cost structure, the right landbanks, the right kind of property products and understanding the customers’ requirements in order to be competitive in the industry. Competition is definitely greater moving forward, thus, we need to utilise price competitive building materials that are of reasonably high quality whilst staying innovative with our product offerings with the competitive edge in the market place.
Our customers must benefit from a product/property that provide greater value and enhanced with great features with practical layout and functional designs, which is a must in the challenging market that the property industry is currently facing.
Many people are not aware that Taman Universiti is a product of Country View. Care to inform the readers about all your developments in Johor?
Taman Universiti covers an area of 1,080 acres of self-contained mature township with a population of close to 60,000. The recent township developments of the Group are located in Iskandar Puteri area compromising Taman Nusa Bestari Jaya, Taman Nusa Indah and currently at Taman Nusa Sentral which is being developed as a fully integrated mixed development. The Group also entered into the high-end luxury bungalows with its development of Residence at the Peak, Straits View.
What are your latest product launches and what can we expect in 2018?
Our up and coming product launch is 74 units of 3-storey Superlink XL Homes with a lot size of 25’x 80’ and a huge built-up area of 3,830 s.f. These Superlink homes come with 6+1 bedrooms & six bathrooms and the car porch can accommodate up to four cars. The whole precinct is gated and guarded with 24-hour security patrol, CCTV surveillance at the Guardhouse and access card system for the residents. It has been officially unveiled on 28th October 2017 and attractive promotion packages await the buyers of these homes. The selling prices start from RM849,000.
We are also planning further launches of landed residential properties in 2018.