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The “father of construction in the Philippines” builds value

Article - June 10, 2013
David Consunji set out in 1951 with a cement mixer and a truck. Today his group stands behind some of the country’s most important real estate, infrastructure and mining projects
Who better to head one of the Philippines’ largest construction and real estate conglomerates than a former concrete inspector? David Consunji, now in his early 90s, made the transition from inspector to entrepreneur, in a move that would literally alter the skyline of many of the country’s cities. 
Between 1951 and 1995, Mr. Consunji’s construction firm DMC Consunji, Inc. Engineers and Contractor (DMCI), held steady operations that left in its wake dozens upon dozens of satisfied clients and successfully completed projects. Young David had made a promise to his aunt that he would go out and become his own boss and make his family proud. 
“I promised her that I would work with honesty and integrity in running my own business,” he recalls. “Business in beyond earning money. We always start with true service; that is what we stand for.” 
His firm’s integrity certainly did not go unnoticed. In 1979, Mr. Consunji was named Outstanding Citizen of the City of Manila for Engineering and was brought in to government to serve as Secretary of Public Works, Transportation and Communications. 
In late 1995, DMCI went publicly listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange as DMCI Holdings, Inc. DMCI remained as the group’s construction subsidiary and was joined by DMCI Project Developers, Inc. (PDI), Semirara Mining Corporation, DMCI Power Corporation (DPC), DMCI Mining Corporation (DMC), DMCI-MPIC Water Company, Inc. (DMWCI), and most recently, Sem-Calaca Power Corporation (Sem-Calaca). In other words, Mr. Consunji cemented a small empire of construction, real estate, mining, power, and water utility.
“Since DMCI became public, we have evolved into an infrastructure company using our competencies in engineering and construction. For me, our direction towards business synergy has been realized,” he says.
The group’s wholly-owned mining subsidiary is DMC, which is engaged in nickel, chromite and iron laterite exploration and mining. However, the real mining breadwinner is Semirara, which enjoys a supply contract with the state-run National Power Corporation. 
Semirara is the Philippines’ largest coal producer, with exclusive rights to explore, mine and develop the coal resources on Semirara Island, a 13,600-acre island some 200 miles south of Manila. According to Mr. Consunji, coal mining accounts for 40% of the group’s net profit. 

“Business in beyond earning money. We always start with true service; that is what we stand for”

“We find ways to shorten and lighten construction works without sacrificing quality. This results in bigger savings for our clients”

David Consunji,
Founder and Chairman of DCMI Holdings, Inc.

“Our coal production is at 7 million metric tons (MMT) a year, of which we supply 2 MMT to our own power plant. Although the export demand is still robust, we prioritize servicing our local markets which command higher prices,” he says.  
Indeed, Sem-Calaca Power Corporation became an important client two years ago when the first of the two power plants went online. 
“We won in the bid for the two 300 MW power plants in Calaca, Batangas,” explains Mr. Consunji. “We finished rehabilitating the first unit in 2011, which now runs at 250-300 MW. The other unit – which we just recently finished rehabilitating in the second half of last year – is now in its test-run stage. Today, we can say that we are indeed in the power generation business. We are not just putting up power plants; we run them.” 
DMCI Power Corporation, another 100% owned group subsidiary, is building the Masbate Diesel Power Plant, through which it will supply power to the island of Masbate for 15 years, thanks to a tender DMCI was awarded by the National Power Corporation. 
DMCI’s Chairman says that diversifying one’s assets is a sure way to guarantee a flow of income, hence his group’s investments in mining, energy and water. Nevertheless, building remains closest to his heart. “The construction business in not only an occupation – it is a calling. Construction is a task with a huge social value, ethics and obligation to clients,” he says. 

Nicknamed ‘the father of construction’ in the Philippines, Mr. Consunji never compromises quality. 
“We provide quality homes to families who want decent and affordable houses to call their own. We put quality in all our projects; that is the most important thing for us,” he states. “We find ways to shorten and lighten construction works without sacrificing quality. This results in bigger savings for our clients.” 
Like his integrity, DMCI’s focus on quality is a big selling point. “We are happy to note that we are one of the fastest growing real estate companies because of the promise of quality and affordable housing that we offer,” adds Mr. Consunji.
Quality aside, however, DMCI is also renowned for its pioneering the usage of advanced construction technologies in the Philippines. It was one of the first companies to use precast, pre-stressed and high-strength ready-mixed concrete, for example. 
And, not only do projects receive DMCI’s hallmark quality and innovation, they’re often completed ahead of schedule. In fact, it was this attribute that sealed a successful future for Mr. Consunji’s venture; in 1951, he finished a Coca-Cola plant for Don Andres Soriano (of the family that established the San Miguel brewery) nearly half a year ahead of schedule.
Apart from residential properties – which are mainly offered through DMCI Homes, a firm that by year-end 2011 had sold more than 31,000 units worth some $1.45 billion – DMCI’s impressive portfolio includes Ayala Triangle Tower I at the Philippine Stock Exchange Plaza, the Citibank Tower, the SM Megamall, and Shangri-La’s Mactan Island Resort and Hotel Manila, as well as the kilometer-long Magat Bridge, the Gibong Diversion Dam, the Narvacan Power Transmission Lines, and the three interchanges on Metro Manila’s main thoroughfare.  
Other notable completed projects are the San Miguel Corp. North Brewery, the Motorola Plant, the Dingle Diesel Power Plant, and the U.S. Navy’s hangar in Subic, which is the largest contract the U.S. government has ever awarded to a Philippine contractor. All in all, DMCI has completed more than 500 various projects to date, many of which have been for repeat customers. 
Nevertheless, for Mr. Consunji the group’s impressive portfolio isn’t a mere list of completed projects. “Our achievements are not measured by how many structures we have built, but rather by how many lives we have touched. Beyond every structure that we build, there is a compelling social value instilled by the hard work of our men in DCMI,” he concludes.