Emma Imperial of the Imperial Homes Group of Companies envisions a future with even low-cost communities running on inexpensive, environment-friendly solar power
There is an air about her that is undeniably attractive. She enters a room, and her vibrant energy and sunshiny disposition radiate. She speaks, and people sit up and listen. Emma M. Imperial, president and CEO of Imperial Homes Group of Companies, the first property developer in the world that builds 24-hour solar-powered mass housing communities, can certainly shine her own light in the busy world she moves in.
Emma goes about her day managing her companies, checking out construction sites, attending high-powered meetings, teleconferencing, giving speeches, or sealing deals. But she also does not neglect to take care of her body and soul—she faithfully works out, collects art, travels, wines and dines with friends, does advocacy work, and links up with other positively empowered women in worthy causes. Having struck a balance between work and play, Emma embodies one who is indeed living the life.
“I have always been adventurous, I love meeting people and going on trips to see the world,” says Emma. “I have always been a people person, surrounded by good friends and like-minded individuals who enrich me in so many ways. That’s why I always make it a point to enjoy and have fun in what I am doing, be it work or play.’’
The story behind how she put up her company, Imperial Homes Corporation (IHC), is as fascinating as Emma’s personal adventures. IHC was established in 1983, a month after the Aquino assassination, when things started to become uncertain in the country. Still, the raging political and social upheaval of the ’80s did not stop Emma from pursuing things she had always wanted to do. At that time, Emma was a young wife to the late lawyer and Legazpi City mayor Gregorio Imperial Jr. and mother to two boys.
“My husband and I were just starting to build a family. But I knew I could do something more where my education and my work experience could be put to good use. I thought of establishing a Montessori school in Legazpi City because my sons were already starting to go to school. I also put up a poultry farm because there was none at that time in our place. I always think of going into a business that is untried and untested; this challenges me and really drives me,” recalls Emma.
With P200,000 borrowed from her mother and tracts of unused land borrowed from her husband, Emma established IHC, a company primarily engaged in the development of middle income as well as low-cost housing projects. Business was growing exponentially, because IHC was answering a need in the Bicol region.
However, the political turmoil in the country, which would later turn out to be a blessing in disguise, was setting her back. “In 1986, we had to leave the country for the US because the situation was so unsure and I wanted assurance for the future of my children. In the Los Angeles area, I became a licensed broker and I tried to learn everything that I could in business—how to make the most out of foreclosed assets, what were the best properties to buy. So when we came home three years later, I had a totally different world view, I was already thinking macro and I saw things differently. I could easily spot opportunities!’’ Emma says.
Timing is of the essence, as they say. By the time the Imperials came home to resettle in the country, the Philippine real estate industry was booming, something that Emma took advantage of by building and selling houses in subdivisions through IHC. Addressing the low-cost mass housing backlog, IHC also started collaborating with other developers in various joint ventures, including with Laguna Properties Holdings Inc., the mass housing arm of Ayala Land Inc., in the construction of 2,000 socialized housing units in Silang, Cavite. From 1996 to 1999, IHC built and sold around 7,000 housing units generating revenues of about P450 million per year.
Read the full story of Emma Imperial and the growth of her company inside Asian Dragon Magazine’s September-October 2015 issue. Grab your copy from all leading bookstores nationwide or purchase the issue from the Asian Dragon Magazine App, free to download on Google Play Store, iTunes, and Amazon.
[Photographs: Myk Yco]