RJ Armas: Putting together Multiple Industry Expertise to Bring Well Designed Homes for the Filipino Middle Class in the Provinces

RJ Armas: Putting together Multiple Industry Expertise to Bring Well Designed Homes for the Filipino Middle Class in the Provinces

RJ Armas , Founder & CEO

RJ Armas

Founder & CEO

Real estate development plays an important role in the growth of a nation says RJ Armas who founded Arya Land which has expertise in real estate brokerage and construction. The company is known for its end-to-end solution of helping customers from property acquisition to construction & renovation. To achieve this, the company is partnered with the top banks in the Philippines to help people finance their dream homes. Apart from this, the company is also involved in the management of real estate investments.

RJ Armas completed his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of the Philippines. After graduating cum laude, he started working in the corporate world but immediately felt that entrepreneurship was his truecalling. A few months after leaving his job, he started several businesses which did not work out. He then became a real estate broker as an experiment but ended up successfully selling real estate properties from local developers. After gaining experience, he started his own real estate company widely known as Arya Land. His deep conviction that “a well-designed & built home is the backbone of a very happy & productive family” is the driving force behind this venture. His passion for real estate development has brought various laurels to his organization. RJ Armas engages in an exclusive interaction with CEO Insight.

Could you tell us about the unique experiences the University of the Philippines offers and what did you learn from the campus beyond academics?

I would consider my time in the University of the Philippines as my best period of educational enlightenment not just because of I learned from its brilliant professors but also, I was able to engage and compete with other very bright students that come from every corner of the country. I love the University’s culture of logically questioning the status quo. It nurtures being able to think out of the box to solve real world problems. Lastly, the diversity in the university really helped me think bigger by encouraging discourse with other students & teachers with different points of view.

How would you define Arya Land as an organization and its current position in the market?

Arya Land is a medium sized company with around 80 employees. We are the top choice when it comes to professional assistance in home ownership in our region. We can properly advise our customers and investors because we gather the best data in terms of real estate trends in the region. Having a lot of data empowers us to make better decisions in terms of real estate development. With our expertise, we also help investors who have investable capital but don’t have the risk appetite for the stock market and is looking to diversify into real estate which is far more stable.

The industry’s well-known stability does not mean less profit, we make sure that our investors are well rewarded with their investments. We also ensure that our clients who bought the properties feel that they purchased something of value that will make them happier and/or financially secured in the future. At the end of the day, its Filipinos helping other Filipinos by providing them a better home.

RJ Armas started selling real estate at a very young age. After learning a lot from the industry, he started his own real estate development company focusing on homes made for middle class Filipinos relocating in the provinces.

What are the major challenges you have faced until now? How did you overcome them and what did you learn from them?

The main challenge we faced was being hit with COVID restrictions and the subsequent Oil Crisis that was brought by the Ukraine-Russia war. Before pandemic, we were positioned and had momentum to scale up our operations and was investing in other different businesses. But when the pandemic hit, there was a government mandate to halt operations which essentially stopped the movement of our materials and manpower. To top that, the sudden rise in oil prices caused a substantial increase in cost of construction materials for our ongoing projects. We were not ready for these subsequent black swan events and I thought I was going to lose the company.

We were able to overcome this by getting rid of businesses that were not in lined with our main industry expertise, ruthlessly cutting cost and streamlining our operations to support our main revenue drivers. In the end, I learned the importance of safety nets and by always having liquidity reserves in order to cushion unforeseen crisis like these. We also learned to strengthen our communication channels by both systematizing reports and incorporating software so people can work more flexibly if needed.

Tell us about your leadership approach and what are the guidelines you follow to lead your team.

I practice a semi-laissez-faire type of management. I started as a micro manager during the company’s early days but I’ve learned that as you grow, it is more sustainable & scalable to invest in training employees who can solve problems on their own. This enables me to focus on analyzing data and making key decisions such as where to invest our resources, inculcating culture, and keeping organizational clarity.

I made our own decision triangle in our company as a guideline so that anytime our staff needs to decide on a problem, it’s going to be consistent with our values. The three principles considered when making decisions are; Make Clients Happy, Build/Provide a Well-Designed Home, and Keep a Healthy Profit.

Does this action make the client happy? Does it this action help build a well-designed home overall? And is this action profitable for the business in the long run? This ‘decision triangle’ is very practical because the principles are simple and easy to understand.

Of course, a decision is never perfect and we always argue in the office where a decision lies within the matrix but I’m always happy that actions are made swiftly and within these metrics.

I think as leaders, our main job is not to solve problems as they arise, but to develop people around us who can solve problems on their own using your company values as a guideline.

What is the future destination you are heading towards?

We are starting to build our own short-term rental properties that showcase our in-house architectural creativity that we think are reflective ofour own beliefs, ethnicity, and geographic landscape. I felt so scared of venturing into this that I made sure to acquire a property that is just walking distance from our main office so that it would be easier to manage.

In addition, we are also experimenting on incorporating resource efficient and less impactful house designs and home features. Solutions such as incorporating natural airflow & light in the design to make houses less dependent on indoor lighting & appliances, rainwater collection systems that can be incorporated into indoor toilets, and home garden spaces to encourage our clients to grow their own herbs and vegetables instead of driving to the nearest market. These are things that we are excitedly working on now and hope to be known for in the future.

RJ Armas, Founder & CEO, Arya Land

As leaders our main job is not to solve problems as they arise, but to develop people around us who can solve problems on their own using your company values as a guideline

• Hobbies: Reading, Watching Web Series, & Working Out

• Favorite Cuisine: Filipino, Italian, and Vietnamese

• Favorite Book: Meditation by Marcus Aurelius and Principles by Ray Dalio

• Favorite Travel Destination: Japan and Israel

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