Business View Caribbean interviews Peter Matalon, Managing Director of Matalon Homes as part of our series on Caribbean real estate companies.
Matalon Homes is a real estate developer and builder of unique, contemporary residential and commercial projects, based in Kingston, Jamaica. Its Managing Director, Peter Matalon, started his career in his family’s business, building low-income housing, but in 2004, struck out on his own. “I tried to get the family to get into the high-end, town home market, because I thought that there was a niche here to be filled,” he explains. “The availability of high-end, residential projects was quite limited, and I decided I was going to go out on my own and do it.”
“So, we put together Matalon Homes,” he continues. “The name Matalon was synonymous with housing in Jamaica, so I used it. I partnered with my cousin and also my financial controller who I employed at the time, when I was at the family business, and we started our first development in 2005, and handed it over in 2007. At the time, we had decided that the business model we wanted was to keep it really tight and do one development at a time, so we could control the quality of the product and limit our overhead. So, we operated onsite, doing one project at a time.
“That worked fine for the first two projects. The third project hit a little snag between submitting it for approval and actually getting approval, so we ended up in a situation where we had a lull in terms of construction, but we still had the overhead. At that point, I decided to diversify the business so that we were never caught like that again. We started doing custom homes for select clients, as well as planning more than one project at a time, and doing some outside contracting for special clients. We did two custom homes, a Toyota dealership, and continued to do our own projects at the same time. That’s the model now.”
Matalon says that what differentiates his company from the competition is the quality of its workmanship and its attention to detail. “I’m a very picky person,” he admits. “We don’t cut corners. My reputation means more to me than any dollar you could put in a bank. I’m very particular in what we deliver and what we put our name on. In a nutshell, we’re extremely trusted. Our customers know us; we’ve established a customer base and they know what to expect. They know they’re getting value. We’re honest and straightforward in what we say we’re going to deliver and what we do deliver. The project that we’re currently doing – 64 apartments – sold in two weeks, almost before we broke ground. Most of them are our existing customers, and other customers who have been referred by our existing customers.”
Matalon Homes has about 75 direct employees. “However, we use sub-contractors to do our finishing work,” Matalon adds. “They do work for us, full-time, and don’t do any other work, outside. So, if you count them, we have somewhere in the region of 200.”
Matalon says that, recently, the company has slightly changed its methods of construction. “In the past, we used conventional block and steel for most things,” he explains. “We are now going with poured concrete. The controls are a lot better and the end product is a much better product, in my opinion. That’s one thing that has changed in our profile. Other than that, we just keep improving the product. We continue to research state-of-the-art products that will enhance our final product for the customer; that’s an ongoing effort to make sure that we’re ahead of the game. We recently got into the roofing business, so we opened up a company, Matalon Roofing, as a subsidiary of Matalon Homes, where we are currently producing standing seam roofing for Jamaica. I believe it’s the future of roofing here for our tropical climate and our hurricane history. That’s about two years old and progressing well.”
Going forward, Matalon says that he is thinking of expanding his company’s services, islandwide. “We focus mostly, now, in Kingston because that’s the market that we know, but I’m hoping to expand to other areas of Jamaica. We may consider going into other areas of construction products and materials, but we’ve not decided yet what, when, and where. We have a bunch of ideas, but no immediate plans. And we may go back and look at the middle income market and try to put some type of product offering there, but I have not made up my mind about that yet.”
Meanwhile, Matalon Homes will continue to provide its current and future customers with quality products built with value and serviced with integrity borne from its decades of experience in building and construction. “I’m still doing work for customers that bought in 2007,” Matalon declares, proudly. “That’s the kind of reputation we have. I’m not going to hand over my product, leave, and forget about you; I’m not that type of person. Once you’re my customer, you’re my customer. Period.”
AT A GLANCE
WHO: Matalon Homes
WHAT: A real estate developer and builder of residential and commercial projects
WHERE: Kingston, Jamaica