Behind some of the biggest construction projects in the Philippines is a company that initially struggled to find itself in the engineering industry. Megawide Construction was created in 1997 at the height of the Asian financial crisis.
Its founders, who are two Filipino civil engineers, braved that dreadful economic episode anyway after taking a huge leap of faith, while holding on to their vision of a transformed construction trade in the country.
Almost twenty years later, Engr. Michael Cosiquien and Engr. Edgar Saavedra have become few of the youngest billionaires in the Philippines while managing one of the nation’s leading construction firms.
In 2016, 43-year-old Cosiquien is ranked no. 35 in Philippines’ 50 Richest List with a net worth of $265 million. Meanwhile, 41-year-old Saavedra is a little behind at rank no. 37 with $255 million net worth.
Both are young bloods in the list but they are close to the age of the youngest Filipino millionaire, who is business magnate Edgar Sia with a net worth of $1.2 billion at 39 years old.
But just like how any success story goes, getting there wasn’t easy.
“We were just out of the university, we had minimal training, so it was really on-the-job training for us,” Chairman/CEO Cosiquien tells in an ANC interview. The two Lasallian engineers entered the construction industry as a company only with an engineering diploma up their sleeves.
Megawide President and COO Saavedra admits that both of them came from families with business backgrounds. However, that could only do so little since the construction business is a trade entirely new to them.
They used this lack of field experience as a driving factor to become more aggressive in finding large-scale projects.
“Sometimes inexperience can be good. It forced us to come up with new ideas that set us apart from the rest,” Edgar shares through Inquirer.
Their labor came into fruition in 2004, when they got a 25-storey building project. It was their first perfect opportunity to prove themselves in the booming construction industry.
But it wasn’t until 2007 that Megawide got its biggest break.
All thanks to SM Development Corp. (SMDC), which is the residential arm of the prominent Sy family, the company was able to bag two projects which are the Berkeley Residences in Katipunan and Grass Residences in North EDSA.
Those two high-rise buildings became their benchmark projects in the skyscraper construction, also marking the tremendous growth of the company. At one point, 70% of its business came from the residential projects they acquired from SMDC.
Their greatest edge, according to Saavedra, is that they both use their personal engineering knowledge in bidding for projects – that’s to keep the premium building quality while reducing costs. Although that technical skill is not exclusive to them, it has allowed them to trim down the construction expenses, which ultimately attracted developers like SM to hire them as general contractors.
Much of the growth of Megawide is attributed to the support and trust that SM gave to them, says Cosiquien. “They saw how we worked and delivered our projects. We’ve built trust and confidence in the family.
“After that, we won more projects with them and in 2011, we decided to release in the stock market we invited them to invest out of respect, courtesy and utang na loob because we were able to grow our company very fast because of their support,” he adds.
In the same year, Megawide went public. Since then, it grew to become a residential property contractor into an infrastructure firm. It has acquired more projects both in the public and private sectors, shaping the skylines of urbanized areas and defining the lives of the people with their related services.
The company has several on-going residential projects in Makati and Quezon City; and office/commercial establishments in Taguig, Pasay, Pasig, Lapu Lapu City, and Cebu City.
Megawide is also currently involved in the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) framework projects like the Southwest Integrated Transport System in Paranaque City, the newest phase of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, and the modernization of the Philippine Orthopedic Center.
All of these are on top of the existing structures Megawide already built. That includes the City of Dreams Manila, the Bellevue Executive Tower in Muntilupa City, the Kimberly Hotel Tagaytay, the Almanza Metropolis in Las Pinas, the SMDC Grand Showroom in Pasay City, and the Tomas Morato Plaza in Quezon City.
Even both of them didn’t know that they will go this far in the construction industry. They were only fresh licensed engineers then when they established the company, now valued by the stock market at P29.7 billion.
“One might say that qualities like being too young, too adventurous, not knowing enough, are weaknesses that keep you from being successful, but this is not true. All we had were guts and a drive to succeed.” Saavedra reveals.