KMC SAVILLS, Inc. Managing Director Michael McCullough once found himself in a predicament in the Philippines. With a background rooted in tech, Mr. McCullough was tasked with opening an IT office in the country to ride the wave of the newly emerging industry. But when the global financial crisis hit, he was one of the many businessmen left with a long-term lease and no way to pay for it.
"When life gives you lemons, you've got to figure out what to do with it," he told BusinessWorld in an interview.
"After the global financial crisis hit, we became very active in subleasing office space with other people that had lost business and needed help to cover their rent. And that's how we formed our team. We hired our first employee, launched in 2009, and we've slowly grown ever since."
Alongside Gregory Kittelson, and Amanda Rufino-Carpo, Mr. McCullough founded the KMC MAG Group in March 2009, and since its incorporation, the company has leased out and sold more than two million square feet of properties throughout Metro Manila. The company offers services ranging from tenant representation, landlord representation, investments to property management and facilities management.
Since then, KMC Savills has won international recognition as a real estate services firm, including being named as the Best in Class Real Estate Agency, as well as the 5-Star Best Property Consultant in the Philippines in the International Property Awards.
"It hasn't been easy," Mr. McCullough said. "When you're the new kid on the block, you have to fight for every single client. You have to outperform [your competitors]. It's really about customer service. It's about getting good data. It's about hiring the right people, and it's about managing cashflow and we've been very lucky to be able to do all those successfully."
"We were very fortunate over the last couple of years to be internationally recognized as a top player in the Philippines," he added.
Mr. McCullough pointed out that much of KMC Savills' success is owed to its standout team of professionals involved directly in transactions for tenant representation, landlord services, investment services, research & consultancy, serviced office and built-to-suit, residential services, project and construction management, and asset management for its wide array of clients ranging from local to foreign multinational companies. KMC Savills invests heavily on the professional growth of its staff, providing them with the education needed to excel in the industry.
"We spent a lot of time and money having [members of the team] educated abroad, so some of our top people have their masters in corporate real estate," Mr. McCullough said.
"We've had to do things differently from the beginning, and we've rewarded those who work really hard and have been with us for a long time. The more you know, the better you can serve your clients, and it's paying off. For a little more work, you're making a lot more money," he added.
This continuous pursuit of education, as well as the emphasis on a positive team culture, makes the company very attractive to new talent as well, Mr. McCullough said. Having the right talent leads to enticing the right customers. "It's just a self-fulfilling prophecy right after that."
KMC Savills goes to great lengths to maintain its position as one of the leaders in the Philippine real estate industry, and keep its positive outlook for the future. Mr. McCullough noted that the company even had its best year in its history in 2017, with numerous investments in staff training and its relationships with investors and property owners paying off.
"We're really excited for 2018 and the challenges [it will bring], especially as the market's changing. We want to make sure that we didn't just get lucky over the last nine years, that we're also able to be profitable whether the market's flat or goes through its ups and downs," he said.
KMC Savills, Inc. is headquartered in Bonifacio Global City. It is an international associate of Savills, one of the leading real estate firms in the world.
Not only did the founding of KMC Savills create a bright future for itself, it also led to the development of KMC Solutions, its sister company. KMC Solutions is a provider of Flexible Workspaces with value added services such as HR & Payroll Support. Their clients range from smaller teams and start-ups to large enterprise occupiers.
"When we started, a lot of our clients wanted to test the waters of the Philippines without making long-term contracts, leases or huge capital investments," Mr. McCullough, who also co-founded KMC Solutions and is currently part of its executive team, said.
"Now, KMC Solutions has assisted over 100 businesses in successfully establishing operations in the Philippines since it launched in 2009, including SMEs, and multinational firms such as Bright, eBay, Sun Life Financial Canada, Royal Caribbean, Uber, and Vocus."
KMC Solutions has really grown a lot over the past few years, and their product is in high demand by some of the biggest unicorn companies in the world."They were able to time that product correctly, and they're in a really good position to dominate the Philippine market, which I think that's where they have their sights set on," Mr. McCullough said.