THE ART OF LEADERSHIP
Rajnikant Ajmera, Chairman & Managing Director, Ajmera Realty & Infra India Limited, talking to Sapna Srivastava, credits Ajmera brand’s motto of quality construction & unfailingly timely completion as the reason for successful completion of More than 50 years in Indian realty sector.
The foundations for Ajmera group were laid in 1968 by Chotu Bhai Ajmera. Reminiscing about the initial days, Rajnikant said, “The Company had a humble beginning with small scale constructions and single building projects. I joined the business at a young age while completing my Civil Engineering graduation.” Starting from Mumbai, the company’s footprint are now across Pune, Surat, Rajkot, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad and also touched the international shores in Bahrain and London. “It has been a challenging journey for us. We have survived for so long because we still practice the principles and ethics of business, established by the founders of the company,” said Rajnikant.
WHAT HAS GONE WRONG IN REAL ESTATE?
Real estate was considered a lucrative business. If someone had money or land, they would overnight turn into builders. They were building based on future appreciation without realizing the present expenses & demand ratio. This strategies did not work once strict regulations came in the sector.
In addition there is no appreciation of properties. Developers are constructing on assumption. But if there is slow sales and the burden of taxes and loan interest continues, it is evident the developers will be forced to sell for marginal or no profits. That’s where the entire cycle has gone wrong.
At present there is more supply than demand in the market. Hence, developers should be very cautious in starting new projects. Also, many a times the land prices are inflated by developers as they compete with each other to get that land parcel. This tendency harms the sector.
The frequent changes in the DCR and FSI rules hamper the real estate growth. The delay in approvals, environmental clearances and high stamp duty, they all increase the overall cost of the project and put a burden on the builders as well as the consumers.
HOW HAVE YOU MANAGED THE WORKABILITY OF AJMERA EVEN IN THESE TOUGH TIMES?
“In the last 10 years we have not purchased land. Whatever lands we have was bought on historical prices. Moreover, we are a family run business so most departments are handled by family itself. This has helped us keep control on quality and processes thereby maintaining the bottom lines of the company. We also made sure that the company kept pace with the changing times, from construction technologies to project design & planning and marketing strategies. Twice in a month, we review the business, we decide what is going good and what isn’t. We make sure that the company does not commit anything that we are not able to deliver. Ajmera is now increasing its commercial portfolio and plans to foray in new segments like student housing, warehousing and co-working & coliving. We will also be entering the Hyderabad market soon.”
I have no plans to retire and will continue to be member of the company, more as a mentor and guide. I am actively involved in CREDAI at national level which helps me remain active in the industry. Personally I would like to be involved more in social work and increase the charitable activities that I am already doing with MCHI and individually.
HOW DO YOU SEE THE NEXT FEW YEARS OF REAL ESTATE?
“The real estate business is evergreen. If the government wants to achieve the :Housing for All” goal, it will have to make it the top priority from ease of acquiring land, approvals & permissions to reduction of government charges, GST and stamp duty. From this quarter things are going to change positively. Even the government recently has declared some tax reforms like the reduction of corporate tax. Slowly the sentiment is becoming positive and I am quite optimistic about the future.”
“Our policy was very clear from the beginning, whatever commitments we make, we should honour and fulfil. We have given these strict instructions to our sales staff as well. No false promises.”