Case Studies

Mon Group Properties Inc.

Building a new urban standard for living in New York and New Jersey

Dean Mon established D. R. Mon Group Inc. (MGI) in 1985. Mon had been working in construction management since the early 1980s after leaving the corporate world. He worked with his father in-law, building his expertise in the construction and development sector before setting out on his own. Hard work and responsibility have been integral in the development of MGI, fitting well with Mon’s experiences as an immigrant to the United States from Cuba.

“I am an American born in Cuba,” Mon explains. “My parents put me on an airplane in 1961 after Castro came to power. My older brother, Tony, had come out two weeks prior and was supposed to meet me, but it didn’t happen. I arrived alone.” When the brothers finally reunited, their parents were still in Cuba. They received assistance from Catholic Charities for three years until their parents were able to come to the United States.

Over the years, Mon has given back to the country he loves and admires; he even fought for the United States in Vietnam. “Like millions of Americans who came before me and assimilated to become an American, I remain proud of my heritage as a Cuban, but, America adopted me and I adopted her,” he says proudly. “She allowed me the opportunity to make my way and get ahead by nothing more than my own bootstraps, which Cuba would not. I am proud of being an American, an American homebuilder, and being able to give my children and grandchildren the opportunities that America has given me.”

Improving communities

While Mon has retired from the service, he continues to serve his country by guiding the independent corporations and limited liability companies he owns to build safe, sustainable communities in his home state of New Jersey, as well as in New York. “In the mid-90s, we saw an opportunity in the urban sector,” he explains. “We started building townhouses, then some mid-rise for sale condominium complexes.” The company’s portfolio now includes a range of market-price and affordable housing communities across the region.

To accommodate an increasing range of projects, Mon decided to establish a new independent corporation, Mon Group Properties Inc. (MGP), to provide management services for these new developments. In January 2014, MGP’s newest property, part of a larger development and known as Jaclyn Heights, opened for occupancy in West New York, N.J. The community features one- and two-bedroom apartments designed not only to reduce residents’ environmental footprint at home, but also in the community. The first two buildings in this larger development, part of the MGI group of independent companies, consisted of one-, two- and three-bedroom for sale condominiums that sold out within 18 months. The homes are Energy Star, LEED and National Green Building Standard certified to reduce energy costs for residents and to better serve the environment.

The larger development is on the site of a fabric factory formerly owned and operated by a company called Jaclyn Inc. “The factory was well-known for helping Cuban immigrants find work and many area residents recall family members working there,” Mon commented to the Jersey Journal at the building’s opening. “It was only fitting to pay homage to its history by keeping its name and creating affordable and energy efficient housing choices for a new generation of homebuyers and apartment seekers.”

Jaclyn Heights has incorporated innovative technology and materials to promote efficient operation and responsible use of resources. Utilities are designed around efficiency, saving water and energy while promoting indoor air quality. The entire larger development was selected for the amenities surrounding it. Condominium owners and tenants have easy access to public transportation via light rail and ferries into New York City, where many residents likely work.

Lasting relationships

Mon has established a track record through the family of independent entities for community-oriented development. The properties are designed and built to serve not only future residents, but the surrounding cities and towns, as well. MGI and MGP, together through the companies’ families of independent entities, have constructed hundreds of units that offer affordability and a high quality of life. As the business grows, Mon plans to stay the course.

Along the way, MGI and MGP have established lasting relationships with strategic partners throughout the region. The company has been involved with the New Jersey Builders Association (NJBA) since 1985, which Mon credits for the networking, support and educational opportunities that have helped him and his team grow as professionals. The business utilizes membership benefits to connect with subcontractors and other partners that share his values and want to help improve communities through responsible construction projects.

MGI and MGP subcontract everything out, working as a developer, construction manager and property manager. “We have a set network of subs that work for us,” Mon explains. “We encourage all of the contractors we work with to join NJBA in order to support the association which has had a large hand in our success.”

Following a tradition of service, Mon has been personally involved with NJBA since joining the organization. He served as president of the association in 1995 and was inducted into the NJBA Hall of Fame in 1996. Mon received both the Silver Hammer and Sponsors’ Choice awards from NJBA at the 2014 Atlantic Builders Convention.

Mon’s involvement with industry organizations carries over to several organizations, including NJBA’s national affiliate, the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB), where he was designated a life director earlier in 2014. Currently, Mon is running for third vice chair of NAHB; if he wins, he will become the organization’s first Hispanic president.

As the business grows through a changing market, his involvement with these organizations becomes greater and more important to the company’s success every year. “We worry about factors such as the regulatory environment and taxes in relation to the future of our industry,” Mon explains. “NJBA provides support that is improving the political and economic environment for builders in New Jersey and on a national level.” MGI and MGP have remained stable and financially viable throughout the recession, but Mon knows that other contractors are struggling.

The numbers are important to Mon, but profits are not everything. While he continues to work to expand and improve his own business, the success of his peers in the industry is equally important. As the company grows, Mon and his team strive to set a precedent for sustainable building projects, as well as a sustainable construction industry. Mon Group Properties Inc. is a standout development firm, paving the way for New Jersey contractors through innovation and service.

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