NCT Group managing director Yap Ngan Choy started out as a tiling contractor in 1976, right after he completed school. In 1985, he set up his own company, NCT Tiling Sdn Bhd. The construction arm of the group was established in 1998 and has clients that include Putrajaya Holdings, S P Setia Bhd and government agencies.
"In 2008, we branched out into property development as we saw very good prospects for the sector in Malaysia. After so many years in the construction industry, we felt it was a good time to diversify," Ngan Choy tells City & Country.
"It is very challenging to be a developer but the years of experience in construction have definitely helped us. I didn't expect my company to be what it is today. Our construction arm, for instance, has completed RM2 billion worth of projects so far."
His eldest son, group COO Yap Chun Theng, majored in quantity surveying in a UK university and began in a junior position at the company six years ago.
Says Chun Teng, "I share an interest in property development with my father. Working in the same company is also a good opportunity for me to spend time with him."
The father-and-son team is now focusing on expanding the property development business, especially with its flagship project, Elemens, in Genting Highlands.
The developer's first high-end high-rise project, Elemens comprises seven blocks of resort-style serviced apartments on a 10-acre freehold tract 6,000ft above sea level. It has an estimated gross development value of RM800 million.
The first of three phases was launched for sale early last month on a leaseback basis.
As a show of confidence, the developer is offering a five-year defect liability period compared with the 24 months that is required by law.
"This is a first in Malaysia. Elemens is our flagship development, our pride, and we would like to reward our purchasers and show our confidence in the quality of our project," says Ngan Choy.
Elemens will have a total of 1,001 units, coming in 13 different types with built-ups starting from 866 sq ft for standard units to 2,970 sq ft for the duplex penthouses. Every unit will have views of the natural surroundings.
The developer acquired the land 1½ years ago. The first phase — Block 1 (eight storeys), Block 5 (nine storeys) and Block 6 (26 storeys) — offers a total of 248 units. Phase two — Blocks 2 and 3, both 26 storeys — is expected to be launched in another six months. The final phase — Blocks 4 and 7 — will have 474 units. The entire project is expected to be completed in 2017.
"We believe there is strong demand for serviced apartments in Genting Highlands as the hotels there are always full. I believe there are about 20 million visitors every year," says Ngan Choy.
"Our first phase has achieved a take-up rate of almost 65% to date with the buyers being mainly from Singapore, China, Taiwan and Sabah and Sarawak. Besides the local launch, we also held a launch in Singapore on Feb 23."
The developer has plans to hold road shows in Indonesia, Hong Kong and Taiwan to market Elemens.
All the units in the first phase are fully furnished and priced at about RM840 psf or RM727,773 for a 866 sq ft unit.
"Elemens offers a yield of 7%. We call it rental pool … we will lease the units from the purchasers when they sign the sale and purchase agreement. We will have a management agreement with them for five years when we will manage their units [as holiday apartments]. Purchasers are entitled to a 10-day stay a year," Ngan Choy explains.
Facilities include a heated infinity pool, a gym, a recreational deck, a wellness spa and landscaped sky gardens. Feng shui masters, Yap Cheng Hai and Yap Boh Chu have been appointed master planner advisers. The design foundation is based on the five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water.
The medium-cost Bukit Rambai Idaman in Melaka was NCT Group's first project as a developer. A joint venture with a government agency, the development began in 2008 and comprises 400 one-storey homes with prices starting at RM130,000. Bukit Rambai Idaman has a GDV of RM16 million and "has been fully sold and is about 90% completed", says Ngan Choy. "We expect to hand over the units around August."
About 3½ years ago, the developer took on what is said to be the biggest abandoned project in Salak Tinggi, Selangor.
"It was abandoned for about 15 years and when we took over, it was already half completed [about 700 units]. It was previously known as Taman Kenanga and the whole mixed-use development will consist of over 2,000 units," explains Ngan Choy.
"We are in the midst of getting approval to change the name to Salak Perdana and expect to hand over some of the units in September next year. We will launch the remaining units some time next year."
The 314-acre development has a GDV of RM1 billion.
NCT Group expects Elemens to keep it busy for the next five years.
"We will continue to focus on developing buildings with good quality. What we build really depends on the site, the location and demand from buyers there," says Ngan Choy.
"So far, it has been very satisfying. I never imagined being where I am today when I started out as a construction worker. I believe that to succeed, it is all about working hard — no short cuts and doing everything one step at a time."
This story first appeared in The Edge weekly edition of Apr 08-14, 2013.