Even while he helms a sprawling list of businesses, a green agenda remains close to his heart. Entrepreneur Emil Arifin spoke recently with GlobeAsia.
It takes passion to do things right and invest only in businesses that you have a passion for. This is what Emil Arifin, 53, believes in his position as president director of PT Dani Prisma Mitra, a holding company that controls interests in the food-related, agro-industry, and property development industries.
PT Dani Prisma Mitra is a family holding company. It was first established 25 years ago by my mother. After individual companies run by siblings progressed well, they were all put under one holding company, in accordance to my late father’s wish to make it a strong family-run business. We focus on three core businesses, food-related businesses, agro industry and real estate,” Emil told GlobeAsia.
Chain restaurant Pizza Hut, the Yummy line of dairy products known for its yoghurt and cheese, Mal Kalibata and Woodlands Park are among the great brand names which Emil is going forward with, the latest being a green-concept, healthy apartment living project in South Jakarta.
Woodland Park Residence is in the foundation building stage on 3.15 hectares of green lush land. It will have five towers, four for apartments and a Condotel which will be operated by Swiss-Belhotel. The project is operated by PT Pardika Wisthi Sarana, a subsidiary of the holding company.
One of Emil’s passions is for preserving the environment and green living. This is why he relocated sixteen huge trees aged between 50 and 100 years old. “Normally one would cut the trees down. We want to preserve nature as much as we can so we didn’t cut down the trees. What we did was successfully relocate those trees and only one tree died,” Emil said.
Our property business has been dormant for years, but we have revived it in the last couple of years. In the pipeline is our next project near the TB Simatupang toll road, where we will build a hotel and mall,” he said.
When asked about investments and where the financing for the property projects comes from, Emil said: “It’s an investment of about Rp650 billion. We get the financing from banks and we never use loans from overseas or private placements,” he said.
Aside from Mal Kalibata and Woodlands, Emil also owns Kemang Business Plaza, an office building in Blok M, and hotels in Yogyakarta and Sumbawa. He also looks after a flower farm, Taman Bunga Nusantara, in Cipanas, as well as Alam Imaginasi, a mini Disneyland-themed park in Puncak.
The company also looks after the reputed Al Izhar schools in Pondok labu, South Jakarta which was established in 1987 and the Darul Hikmah Islamic school in Kutoarjo, Central Java.
Emil explains that real estate is the company’s second biggest commitment after its food-related business. The holding company owns Taurus dairy farms in Cicurug, two fisheries and food processing plants for both domestic use and export. One is a joint venture with a Japanese company.
Its flour factories supply flour to around 250 Pizza Hut outlets in Indonesia and have the license to supply flour to Pizza Hut outlets overseas. The holding also owns Mopoli Raya oil palm plantation and fruit farms in Sumbawa producing dragon fruits and srikaya.
When asked about the group’s turnover, Emil said he has no accurate figures, but estimates that consolidated turnover is close to Rp2 trillion.
Trials and tribulations
But Emil’s success did not come without the ups and downs of doing business. He used to run one of the nation’s largest shrimp farming companies in Surabaya, Banyuwangi, Ujungpandang and Aceh.
We used to be the biggest shrimp exporter under PT Eratama Putra Mandiri, and Eureka before the crisis. We received the Primaniarta Award for being the largest exporter for two consecutive years. We survived after the crisis but then the 911 tragedy in New York killed our business.
Imagine no seminars, no parties in the US, which was one of the biggest market for our shrimp. September of that year was meant to be time for a buying spree for shrimps.
He added: “Not to mention the conflict in Aceh. Our managers were kidnapped during a conflict with the Aceh Free Movement separatists, and then later the tsunami destroyed our shrimp farms,” Emil recalled.
The graduate in industrial systems engineering went on to explain why he has a passion for dairy farms. “The Taurus dairy farm was established by my mother, Mrs. Suhardani Bustanil Arifin in 1965. It started with only three cows and by selling milk door to door by bicycle. Now we have 700 cows producing milk, cheese and yoghurt catering to supermarkets, hotels and for export. We have to be passionate and understand cows and what makes them comfortable, giving them a good barn and good feed and water without overdoing it.”
Globalization, he added, has had little impact on the property sector. “Agriculture has been hit because of the strengthening rupiah. In our group, some are happy and some are not.
For example, at our Sriboga flour mills, we import wheat; we compete head to head with Australia and New Zealand in dairy products but we are happy because we are not competing on price but quality. And our products sell well because they are local products which are fresh and of a good quality,” Emil said.
Taurus dairy farms have the technology and know-how to make competitive dairy products. “We can products make as good as anyone can. One day we received a letter from Europe stating that our yoghurt was fourth-best in the world. Many five-star restaurants use our milk, cheese and yoghurt products,” he added.
Emil says the domestic market for the dairy products is the largest and most promising, with 35% growth.
It’s amazing that other companies are now imitating what we produce,” he remarks.
Emil is also active at the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (Kadin), focusing on aquaculture, and says that he is campaigning to restore Indonesia’s coral reefs and promoting aquaculture to restore biodiversity.
We have to spare the time for this important endeavor. 50% of our coral reefs have been destroyed due to excessive fishing using cyanide bombs. Now, fishermen have to go out at least 10 or 15 km to get fish. They must have between Rp80 million and Rp100 million to buy boats. Where can they get the money?
The Kadin concept is aquaculture close to shore. We have to restock the fish and to do it, we work together with the local governments, regulate polluted rivers and work with cooperatives. We are campaigning this concept, which will be implemented in 2015 as a pilot project at our expense in Sumbawa,” Emil said.
The father of two, one of whom is working in new York and the other at a local bank, also has a passion for biking. He just completed a Maninjau, Padang tour, took part in the Audax 400 kilometer run in Lombok and often plans biking tours in Europe. “We are planning a bike tour from Amsterdam to Bruges, Belgium and Paris,” said the vice-chairman of the Indonesian Bicycle Community (KIS), adding that he likes Trek and Cannondale bicycles.
I just want to live a green life, happily. Green gives a lot of inspiration to many, to make them aware of sustainability in the environment. If I were the governor of Jakarta, I would make the capital city green.”