By Ivan Tan
I remember meeting Datuk Ter Leong Yap for the first time at his office in Shah Alam back in 2010. At that time, Sunsuria’s workplace was no larger than two normal first floor shop units put together. Ordinary was a rather fitting word to describe his office.
But to use the “ordinary” word today on Datuk Ter or anything remotely close to Sunsuria would be a mistake. This company has gone from a simple enterprise in Shah Alam to owning the entire block in Sunsuria Avenue in the bustling suburb of Kota Damansara. This is way before the MRT news and certainly before the hype of DIBS, RPGT, GST etc.
The visionary ambition of Datuk Ter has also taken him from being just a property developer to an entrepreneur to watch. He has gone from five or six projects a year to now rivaling those in the big league with more than ten concurrent projects, from just owning a mechanical engineering firm before Sunsuria to now the catalyst of importing China’s very first university into Malaysia, and today, he will be charting a new course, sailing from a private limited company to a public listed ship at Bursa Malaysia as Sunsuria Berhad. The story just gets better and better.
The corporate adventure of Sunsuria is unveiling itself as an interesting Malaysian masterpiece too. What began in 1989 and having delivered more than 2,500 properties by 2010 of varied segments from light industrial factories, commercial units and residences, it is today a company we can all come to love and learn from. It has grown from projects like Sunsuria Avenue Kota Damansara, the semi-detached offices of Sunsuria 7th Avenue in Setia Alam to now signature pieces like the upcoming prime gated and guarded exclusive bungalow residences of Suria Hills, the soon to be completed mixed development of Suria Jelutong and a piece of the action in Iskandar Malaysia, specifically in Medini of Nusajaya called Sunsuria Medini.
If the company had its fate rested on the long standing friendship and foundation of Datuk Ter, Executive Director David Wong and Director Simon Kwan, today its top executives are joined by property veterans Ho Hon Sang and Koong Wai Seng as Sunsuria’s Chief Executive Officer and Deputy Chief Executive Officer respectively. Although new at Sunsuria, between them are experience from Sunway Bhd, Tropicana Corporation Bhd, 1Malaysia Development Bhd and United Engineers Malaysia Bhd.
The nurturing of Sunsuria Bhd also comes on the heels of a creative exercise. Datuk Ter had personally attained majority from a 17.37% stake to 50.12% shareholding at door manufacturer Malaysia AICA Bhd or MAICA Bhd just earlier this year. The nurturing program started with the disposal of two projects in Bukit Jelutong to MAICA to enable MAICA to diversify into property development. To further expand MAICA’s new core business in property, a rights issue with warrants was then proposed to explore new projects and opportunities. These strategic moves will then involve a name change of MAICA Bhd to Sunsuria Bhd in 2014 which will be finalized on the historic date of 12 May 2014. This will ultimately see Sunsuria Bhd retaining the door manufacturing business while spearheaded and with a larger focus on the property side which has already seen real results in terms of the profits for its financial year ended March 31, 2014.
Stacked now perhaps with greater odds with an enlarged entity and a greater appetite for success, Datuk Ter has not lost sight of the agenda. Together with his assembled dream team, they will be breaking new grounds and assimilate the traits of successful companies, one backed with substance and not just an emblem or logo to show for. The aim – to penetrate into the hearts of his clients. I can attest to this because the message was the same even back in 2010, only to be magnified today because of the expanded ship.
Is he contented then with his accomplishments?
“I am happy, thankful and am appreciative but I still work hard.”
Success hence is no coincidence for Datuk Ter or for Sunsuria. As a matter of fact, his hard work is significantly obvious and equally respected in the marketplace where he leads behind the President as the incumbent Deputy President of the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM). For the record, Datuk Ter or Mr Ter back then was seated as the Treasurer of the Chambers. His contribution along the way would have warranted his rise, in tandem with the camaraderie and support from the Chambers.
Having come this far, what can we look forward to from this man and his newly minted Sunsuria Bhd? For this we may have to go back to the final question I casually asked him in 2010.
“The name Sunsuria, is this something where you’re going to be like the other two “Sun” companies?”
He smirked, smiled and said, “Well you’ll never know.”
Homefinder The fantastic journey of Sunsuria is just about to get more interesting, can you tell us how you feel about this? Is there a new philosophy or mindset in place to run the company?
Datuk Ter Since the start of Sunsuria, we have been built on two key values – integrity and reliability and as a team, internally, we are determined to be committed, progressive and respectful. So there is no real change in terms of a philosophy. Regardless of changes, we will never forget where we started from.
Financial performance is equally important but we also want to be known as a company with substance. Hence the emphasis on providing to our customers products that meet lifestyle needs, adds value and is of good quality.
We want to have an image that is refreshing and we want to be a key part of our customer’s lives. Ultimately develop projects with a view to ensure our customer’s success.
HF Having been in the limelight off late especially with Xiamen University, what can the public expect from Sunsuria in 2014/15?
DT There are a number of milestones we are working towards in 2014. These include the launch of Suria Residence and Suria Hills. We also have a project in Medini in Iskandar Malaysia involving commercial shop offices. Another is the launch of Sunsuria 7th Avenue II in Setia Alam and the soft launch of the first phase of the Xiamen township development.
We believe in being well planned and everything will be launched according to schedule. We are still exploring business opportunities as well.
HF What are some of the significant changes and progress felt or experienced from the Sunsuria-MAICA match up so far?
DT I would say it is about sharing different experiences and transformation – Sunsuria as a private entity is exposing MAICA to property development as a core business and MAICA being a public entity sharing its experience with Sunsuria in terms of exposure to capital markets and its existing business.
This transformation into the new core business has yielded real results and we recently announced a 464% jump in profits for the financial year end 2014.
HF Sunsuria seems to be getting stronger and stronger, what is the motivation and why?
DT I believe it is the result of two things – our core values of integrity and reliability, and second, we have put together a dream team of people. I believe this is what makes us stronger, regardless of the changes that come.
HF What was the turning point to enable Sunsuria to come this far? What will be the next turning point and how would you measure it?
DT I would say there is no “turning point”. We measure ourselves in terms of milestones and we have enjoyed success. I believe this is the result of our approach, which is a combination of looking at things with creativity, innovation and perseverance.
One example would be Sunsuria Avenue in Kota Damansara. It is a project that has contributed positively not only to the company but to the community by complementing the surrounding development around the area.
For our projects in Shah Alam for example, we looked at designing homes that would appeal to all Malaysians.
HF There’s been bad press about property since the Budget including the slowed economy. Is this (Sunsuria-MAICA) a strategic move to cushion the companies should the economy worsen in the coming months or years?
DT This transformation is not a short term move but a long term commitment. It has nothing to do with market sentiment.
HF What can property buyers and investors do then if the economy trends south?
DT The country is working towards its 2020 goal of becoming a developed nation and the economy also has strong fundamentals. The price of property will increase. I would say the best advice would be to always prepare, and research is important when investing or buying property.
HF The big league – it looks more promising than ever that Sunsuria is enroute to be among the top 10 in Malaysia, any forecast as to when this will happen?
DT Our main goal will always be to deliver products that enhance value, are of good quality and meet the lifestyle needs of our customers. In other words, we’ll continue to do our best to ensure customer success.
Suria Residence, Bukit Jelutong, Selangor.
Suria Hills, 7 acres in Setia Alam, Selangor.
Sunsuria 7th Avenue II, 13.6 acres in Setia Alam, Selangor.
Sunsuria Medini, 82 acres in Iskandar Malaysia.
Xiamen University township, 306 acres in Putrajaya South, Federal Territory.
Suite 8, Main Tower, Sunsuria Avenue,
Persiaran Mahogani, Kota Damansara,
PJU5, 47810 Petaling Jaya,
Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia.
Contact No.: +(60)3-6145 7777
Fax No.: +(60)3-6145 7778
Johor Bahru Sales Gallery
No. 1, Jalan Indah 15/3,
Taman Bukit Indah,
81200 Johor Bahru,
Johor Darul Takzim, Malaysia.
Contact No.: +(60)7-238 1117
Fax No.: +(60)7-239 1117
Visit www.sunsuria.com to register yourself into the world of Sunsuria Bhd.