Mashid Rahman, Managing Director of Rangs Properties Limited on the achievements and aims of his company to secure a bold future for our country.
By Tanzeel Zaman
Q. Can you please share the RPL’s legacy in building the nation?
A. Rangs Properties Limited’s journey started two decades ago. Over the time, the company managed to strike praiseworthy success as one of the key business units to one of the largest conglomerates, boasting some of the best real estate projects of the country. What makes Rangs stand apart from its contemporaries is the diversified business portfolio. Starting from real estate, automotive, motorcycle manufacturing, electronics manufacturing, fishing to banking and insurance, we have stepped foot in sectors which not only contributed immensely in the national exchequer but also created thousands of employments. I must mention our stupendous success in the automobile sector ranging from Mercedes Benz, Honda, Mitsubishi, to more recent MG, Mahindra, FUSO, JMC. In addition, we are producing Suzuki motorbikes in Bangladesh. Having said that, if one has to point out one enterprise that can be considered to be the crowning glory of the Rangs empire, then that would be our real estate business. The credit goes to Romo Rouf Chowdhury, the group managing director, who’s vision and focus has been on it since day one. Carrying the legacy of his father, Abdur Rouf Chowdhury-one of the torchbearers of Bangladesh’s private sector-led growth, Romo has managed to cement the company’s growth with resounding aplomb.
What started in the 70’s as a daunting dream has now taken a beautiful shape and in the able hands of Romo Rouf Chowdhury, the company is now aiming to make the lives of all walks of people better. If you look at a Suzuki motorbike, this is the most stylish vehicle in the most affordable price among its peers. Again, Honda is probably the most affordable luxury car with a premium style. Echoing the same success in the real estate sector, we have branded ourselves as affordable luxury among all other brands. Thus, with sheer dedication, attention to details and dynamic strategy, we have been contributing in nation building since our inception. As the country is going to become a middle income one soon, we have a new vision: to give homes to those who couldn’t even dream of having one. We all know how expensive a city like Dhaka is! Affording a dream home at the cost of 50 lac BDT or less may seem utopian to many but we are planning to make it happen.
Q. Are you targeting towards a new client base?
A. Bangladesh’s burgeoning consumer base owes much to the ever-expanding middle-class group. This is why veering our sight from the premium sector; we now would like to work harder to give the stylish life they all aspire to have. Imagine a 650 square stylish apartment for a young couple with 30% down payment and only 35,000 BDT per month! The response is phenomenal. Be it a single parent or a young corporate who dreams of bringing his family to Dhaka and living in their own apartment-our schemes would suit all these people’s needs. Eventually we will come up with housing schemes that are affordable to people whereby they would be able to own a property at a cost of rental. Rangs Properties has also branched out in Chattogram and are among the top real estates in the port city.
Q. You mentioned about Rang’s vision to offer affordable stylish apartments. Would you like to elaborate upon it?
A. I take pride in being a part of this conglomerate because when it comes to style, we consider ourselves as the design leader much to the likes of global brands like Apple, Mercedes or a Mont Blanc. If you are aware of the clean and free flowing nature of Japanese building design, you would see that we are coupling the same philosophy with the sophistication of British elegance. Those who have stepped into any Rangs Property would have no qualms in saying that they have experienced uniqueness in design. In simple words, our design philosophy is simplistic and functional with an open plan design. Historically speaking, Rangs built the first condominium in Gulshan, Dhaka. From an architectural aesthetic point of view, Rangs Babylonia, location in Tejgaon can easily top as the best commercial building of the country. It’s noteworthy, a lot of time, consumers wrongly perceive something affordable to be cheap. That’s not what we are offering here. We want to make sure that what we deliver is value for the money. And needless to say, the properties that we make are timeless hence appreciated irrespective of market changes.
Q. At present, the interest rate on home loans ranges from 9 per cent to 11 per cent. What sort of facilitating services can the government extend to the real estate sector to ensure its sustainability and profitability?
A. Two things need to be done to combat this. I have been preaching almost on all forums that for first time homeowners’ sake, the government should fix the interest rate at 6% with a repayment period of 15 years. And at the same time, special incentives should be introduced for moving into new areas like Purbachal, Bosila, Keranigonj, etc. which are spacious and yet to be infested with urban infrastructures; and this can be done if the government promotes good schools, colleges, hospitable special commuting facilities, public transportations like intra-city train service or metro rail coupled with interest and registration incentive . However, before doing that, the government first needs to identify the thrust areas for new real estate setups. We all know along with REHAB, the government is planning to do a new Detailed Area Plan (DAP) for Dhaka city with an aim to make it more livable. The DAP should enumerate enough transparency and attainable outcomes so that investors and movers alike feel confident about it. There is no doubt about the fact that all these new areas will need schools, hospitals and markets for people’s everyday needs. We pledge to the government to be the facilitator of this if the government can support and ensure to provide special lands to best educational institutes and hospitals so that they can set up infrastructure, which eventually will lure people to move to those localities. We need policies in places which will not restrict but incentivize the growth of the sector as well as the city which is teeming with 20 million people at the moment. Our extraordinary success in the RMG sector was due to the policy and incentive support they have enjoyed from the government, time and again. If you look at the real estate sector, it has the most complex supply chain. There are 242 industries, directly or indirectly associated with the sector and all home-grown. Our sector provides 7-8% of GDP of the country. To grow further, we must become a part of the discussion which eventually decides the fate of the sector and I hope REHAB and RAJUK and all other associated bodies would listen to our pledges.
Q. What’s your thoughts on the recent DAP recommendations?
A. Irony at its best, our 2013 DAP is yet to be implemented. As far as I know, urban planning think tanks have already rejected the recent recommendations made by DAP. Even as a simple citizen, I wonder why do we make policies which are not welcomed by industry exponents and academicians? If we talk about nation building, policies should be as such that has rationale for everyone to appreciate it. Then it needs to be communicated through proper channels, and eventually implemented by engaging all the stakeholders. We hear a lot about demolishing the old, ragged buildings of Old Dhaka and building multistoried ones. Sounds like a big plan but what about the transportation? Who would take care of the bedraggled roads of that part of the city which could have been a wonderful destination for heritage tourism? Nevertheless, I strongly believe the concerned ministries have all the right intentions to give the city a much-needed facelift but some key decisions made by them seem arbitrary and not well-thought. This is why engaging with the stakeholders, hearing about their demand and vision will make the job easier and the outcomes more business-friendly and holistic.
Q. Rangs has launched the first ever studio apartments, which are speculated to be in high demand right now. What’s your take on the future of this?
A. We dream of an inclusive growth of this nation and are working in line with that dream. This is why, real estate business for us is not only about making stylish apartments. We also build buildings which are providing services in healthcare, finance, education and many more. Real estate is about making spaces which are livable and useful to common mass from different walks of life. We have made studio apartments keeping in mind of the empty nesters, newly married, small families and the budgeted families. The beauty of our enterprise is we have set decade-long goals. Such practices are scarce in the real estate sector. Our philosophy is to plan before we make it. Speaking of our Courtyard, it is planned in a way that it is affordable to many different groups of clients. Even for couples who are old and want to spend their retirement period without any hassle, the accessibility of the property to the main road as well as to the Evercare Hospital, made it a wonderful option. We are even putting resident doctors. There are facilities for senior citizens so that they don’t suffer unnecessary age-related accidents, which many abroad-living citizens would want to avail. The apartments are fully furnished too.
Q. Considering all the advancements, what’s your take on the future of our real estate sector?
A. When it comes to technological advancement, I have already mentioned that Japanese philosophy in design is something we aspire to implement. Innovation has been at the core of our decision making and this is why there are many amenities which Rangs pioneered in the industry. Now if you ask businesswise, what I believe is that the market impacts those who are not reliable. For a company like ours, which has the name, fame and trust of our esteemed customers, weathering the economic downturn is easily possible. This is why we didn’t have to pull down our prices to stay afloat during this unprecedented crisis. Much of this success owes to the confidence and trust that our founder Abdur Rouf Chowdhury and his son Romo Rouf Chowdhury earned and sustained over a period of four decades. A company which keeps delivering the best products and the promises irrespective of all conditions is sure to thrive. Having said that, to conclude, I would like to remind the policy makers and readers that Dhaka is going to see a population surge resulting in a rise of the demand for houses. It’s a global phenomenon. This is why a conducive policy that’s sustainable and scalable and that helps with the establishment of basic need infrastructures, can take us to the next level of growth. Last but not least, as the government encourages PPP, we want to propagate the idea of 5Ps, that is Public Private Partnership in Policy Preparation.
Once we can materialize this 5P in a holistic manner, nothing can stop us in continuing as the growth frontier to becoming the next economic superpower in South East Asia and eventually to Asia. As Rangs, not only dreams big but also makes it happen. That’s echoing the rigidity and flamboyance Bangladesh is showing to the world.