Widijanto: Creating Superior Value through Innovation

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PROPERTY development in Jakarta is flourishing, but people often forget that other regions in Indonesia also have extraordinary potential. That’s why Widijanto, managing director of AKR Land Development, has no hesitation in building Grand Kawanua International City, a property project worth Rp 1 trillion in Manado, North Sulawesi.

Location-wise, Manado is highly strategic, especially because as one of Indonesia’s important tourist destinations, this city is being comprehensively developed. Many infrastructure facilities are being built, including an international airport that will serve important routes not only to Jakarta and Denpasar but also to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Seoul and Tokyo. “A number of major airlines have confirmed they will open routes between Manado and these international cities,” Widijanto said.

Indeed, Manado, which is famous for its beautiful nature and for the great diving offered by the Bunaken Sea, is yet to attract the interest of many developers. The Ciputra Group is the only other developer to build a prestigious property there. As for AKR, this company, through its subsidiary PT Wenang Permai Sentosa, is now constructing Grand Kawanua, a property project that was kicked off in May this year with an initial investment of some Rp 300 billion. It is scheduled to be completed in eight years.

Grand Kawanua, which is being built on 180 hectares of land, will be an independent city with 1,500 luxury houses, shopping centers, office compounds, 200 hotel rooms, a convention center and an 18-hole golf course, the construction of which has been completed.

This property project is highly prestigious. The houses, for example, adopt the town house style with class and cost between Rp 1 billion and Rp 10 billion each. Meanwhile, the hotel will be managed under the concept of a condotel and can be owned and leased under a cooperation agreement with Novotel management. The 6,000-square-meter convention center will be used for the first time as the venue for the World Ocean Conference (WOC) in May 2009.

This project is very ambitious but Widijanto modestly says he only wants to help build the country through his expertise in property development. “Our mission is to create superior value through innovation and operation efficiency,” said Widijanto, who earned a degree in architecture from the University of Texas, Arlington, the U.S.

For Widijanto, who was born in Jakarta on April 22, 1961, the property world is nothing new. Even as a student in the U.S. (he first studied there in 1979), he spent some time working at companies related with his major at the university. He joined an architecture firm engaged in the construction of office buildings, hospitals, hotels, sports stadiums, malls and apartments. “This was also means of my survival in the U.S. It was one of the ways to earn an extra income,” said Widijanto, the ninth of 11 siblings.

Widijanto spent eight years in the U.S., attending lectures and working. He returned to Indonesian when he was offered a job by PT Duta Anggada Realty. At that time he was 26 years old and held the position of construction and engineering director.

“This was also means of my survival in the U.S. It was one of the ways to earn an extra income,” said Widijanto.

Unfortunately, the position was not as prestigious as he had imagined because in 1987, Duta Anggada had just started some new projects, and in order to obtain the facilities that were compatible with his position he first had to show his achievements: designing projects and thinking about funding them. “That was a challenge for me,” he said.

It was here that Widijanto’s capability as a leader was put to the test. He built property projects with a high sale value so that he and his team could convince financiers, including the public, to be involved in Duta Anggada projects. While still working for Duta Anggada, Widijanto was involved in various property projects such as Bapindo Plaza, Pavillion Park, Hayam Wuruk Apartment and Menara BIP in Jakarta.

It was from here that Widijanto’s career in property management soared. In 2000, the Salim Group offered him the opportunity to lead its property division, and in 2003 he moved to the Mulia Group. It was when he joined the Mulia Group that he handled prestigious property projects such as 57-story Mulia Tower. The year 2006, when he moved to AKR Land Development, was a difficult year. “I am no longer solely a professional as I’m also a part owner,” said Widijanto, a father of two.

It is at AKR that Widijanto’s entrepreneurship has been challenged. But then he remembers the family tradition of being independent. His father, he said, is a true entrepreneur. He is a vendor in Pasar Pagi in Jakarta’s Chinatown, and has gone bankrupt four times. “People must have not only the courage to succeed but also the courage to fail,” he noted.

That’s why Widijanto had the courage to take a risk when he pioneered the construction of Novotel Nusa Dua, Bali. In June 2005, AKR Land Development built a 10-tower apartment complex in this tourist resort.

It could be argued that Indonesia’s apartment market has reached saturation point, but according to Widijanto there is always an opportunity if an apartment project is handled properly and is built in a strategic location. “I’m not saying that Jakarta is oversupplied, but I simply saw an opportunity outside Jakarta and my choice happened to be Bali,” said Widijanto, who loves reading, playing sports and traveling.

Fortunately, even though Bali was still experiencing the after effects of two bomb attacks, the project Widijanto handled was highly successful. Now, it is the turn of Grand Kawanua. Will this project be equally successful? Widijanto is optimistic, especially because many Manadonese who are on the way to being financially established, in or outside Manado, would like to have a prestigious property in their homeland. Welcome to the place of 1,000 stars! (Burhan Abe)

The Jakarta Post, October 08, 2008

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