Far from having a privileged upbringing, Chuah Theong Yee and his four brothers and sisters were singlehandedly raised by their mother in the sleepy town of Kuala Kangsar. As the youngest in the family, Chuah grew up far from being coddled; helping his siblings with chores around the house whilst his mother worked hard to put food on the table, Chuah learnt the meaning of hard work from a young age.
Chuah’s business acumen started whilst studying for his Civil Engineering Degree at University Malaya, where he had received some scholarships and student loans; however, he still wanted to further reduce his reliance on his family financially. With that goal in mind, he taught tuition and started his first business venture with his roommate – all this while still maintaining good grades. Upon graduation, Chuah tried his hand in several fields, from sales and marketing to construction. His turning point came in October of 1995 when he joined a developer and from then on, this sparked his interest in the field and with that fiery passion, it catapulted him to achieve major successes in a short amount of time.
Through his astute nature, he saw the potential in being a property developer and once an opportunity arose, he jumped at it and struck out on his own. Thus in 1998, Mitraland Group was born which was no mean feat as the country was still reeling from the recession. However there were still demand for landed properties especially in the Cheras region, with that, Chuah’s first few projects were located around the vicinity of Cheras, making him more partial to this locale. This can be seen by Mitraland’s first few projects which were landed properties in Cheras and Serdang with an average GDV of RM30 million or so.
The major breakthrough that propelled the company forward came in 2006; Mitraland undertook its first luxury high-rise condominium. Kiara 1888 is located in Mont’ Kiara, an area dominated by bigger players like Sunrise, BKP and Ireka Development. Through the success of this project, it garnered the company a GDV of RM130 million which strengthened the Mitraland brand in the market place. This development went on to win the prestigious PAM Gold Award in 2012 for Multiple Residential (High Rise) category.
In 2009, Chuah steered Mitraland onto another challenging venture which was C180@Cheras South, the company’s first ever mixed-use development. It was a calculated risk as a mixed-use concept was still fairly foreign around that area; but the venture paid off as C180 is one of Chuah’s most notable projects to date. At the beginning, the company started off with only two staff and working from a rented office to now presiding over 70+ employees and operating out from the iconic Menara Mitraland at Cascades, Kota Damansara; a development that achieved the Best International Mixed Use Development 2012/2013 award by the International Property Award, another one of Chuah’s major accomplishments.
“There are several long serving employees who started off with me and who are still with the company today. I appreciate their dedication and commitment to Mitraland; I practice open communication with all staff and I am always reachable. By doing so, I believe it promotes a more positive and encouraging work environment – the company has benefited greatly from this, judging from the number of faithful employees within Mitraland,” remarks Chuah.
Mitraland earned its third award through 16 Quartz, a lush sanctuary of private villas located at Melawati. It was conferred Best International Development Multiple Units 2013/2014 at the International Property Awards ceremony.
2014 was another significant year as the company achieved several milestones, from reaching RM1.4 billion in GDV for its completed projects to embarking on Mitraland’s maiden international development in Melbourne, Australia. This has been in the works for some time, “Melbourne is known as a sophisticated, cosmopolitan city and we had our sights on expanding the company’s reach internationally. This project will be 72-units of apartment located at Chapel Street, a suburb of trendy South Yarra” stated Chuah. Famed and award winning architects of Fender Katsalidis have been roped in to spearhead the design and concept for the development which has an estimated GDV of AUD52 million.
As the company trail blazes into 2015, there were more highpoints to note. This year Mitraland went through a rebranding exercise and a new, modern logo emerged. “We believe by executing a well thought-out rebranding exercise, it further solidifies our position in the property market and it in turn ensures better productivity amongst employees, creates better recall, higher trust and advocacy by customers. We worked closely with the branding team to craft a consistent brand message, CRAFTING LIFESTYLES, CREATING VALUE. Besides this, our rebranding also unifies all key communication materials, thus, reflecting a more cohesive look for Mitraland.”
As a developer who crafts lifestyles and creates value, Chuah and his team constantly brainstorm new, innovative ideas that will entice discerning buyers. “This may sound cliché, but I honestly love coming into work every day and solve issues and face challenges that crop up. As we achieve our goals, all this gives me immense pride and makes the success taste even sweeter,” Chuah said with a chuckle.
17 years in the business and still going strong, Chuah is not slowing down, in fact the company is gaining momentum. Mitraland has been making tremendous traction in the property scene, offering buyers timely delivery and great capital appreciation for their properties which in turn spurs satisfied and repeat buyers. Chuah’s vision for Mitraland is simple, for the brand to be synonymous with awe-inspiring lifestyle developments and to expand its reach overseas when the opportunity arises.
Also in the pipeline, are two new major projects that Mitraland is focused on; the first is GRAVIT8, a freehold mixed-use development with a projected GDV of RM1.3 billion. Besides GRAVIT8, another exciting addition to look forward to is an upcoming mixed-use lifestyle development at Semenyih. This is a freehold, multi-faceted project with 8.9 acres and an estimated GDV of RM550 million.
With numerous projects in the pipeline, it is vital for the company to operate seamlessly to ensure that the final outcome embody the Mitraland stamp of quality and excellence. This is where Chuah’s able leadership and expertise comes into play, with his keen sense of judgement and governance, the Mitraland team is able to consistently deliver works ahead of schedule while maintaining excellence in quality.
Chuah’s other triumphs come in the form of being able to contribute a total of RM2.1 million to various charity organizations. The company also actively organizes yearly charity visits to homes, hospitals and also hold an annual charity run to aid schools within the community. On a personal note, Chuah is a trustee of the Lions Education Foundation; here he takes time off his busy schedule to help with fundraising efforts to assist underprivileged children by supporting their education needs. “We try to foster a culture of integrity and this belief is permeated to all levels within the organization.”
On a final note, Chuah had this to say, “Even when the odds were stacked against me, I never gave up. One needs to always strive for innovation and improve on conceptual, implementation and quality of products – this is what drives me to always better myself and look where I am today; doing the job I love and am passionate about. It doesn’t get better than this.”