NO GROWING PAINS Chryso SA CEO Norman Seymore explains his company's continued growth despite depressed market conditions
Construction chemicals producer Chryso Southern Africa continues to innovate and expand, offsetting the decrease in major civil projects.
Chryso Group VP and Chryso South Africa (SA) CEO Norman Seymore notes that, aside from a few high-profile building projects in high-income areas, the construction industry has been in decline for several years.
“There are fewer civil projects and, as a result, Chryso has focused on adapting and improving its product range, specifically in terms of residential construction solutions and in concrete aesthetics.”
Seymore also cautions construction stakeholders that are pinning their hopes on government’s assertion that it will invest R292-billion in infrastructure development. He points out that the implementation of the National Development Plan and the 18 Strategic Integrated Projects (Sips) making up the National Infrastructure Plan has been sluggish and sporadic.
“Besides construction work at the Medupi and Kusile power stations, there has been very little tangible development.”
He states that, although Sips will be released for tendering processes eventually, companies should aspire to grow despite this. Growth between periods of reliable work – especially during trying economic conditions – is necessary to create a sustainable and successful business. He adds that Chryso SA’s continued growth and success is the result of its efforts to introduce new products and expand globally during difficult periods, allowing it to capitalise when market conditions improve.
Chryso created an East Africa division in August last year by establishing production, sales and warehouse facilities in Nairobi, Kenya, to identify and supply clients in Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia.
Seymore notes that Chryso also has a strong presence in Morocco and Algeria, and is developing a base in Egypt. The group also acquired production facilities in Qatar last month.
The group is also investigating the viability of entering the West African market, particularly the French-speaking countries. Chryso’s Paris office currently supplies and supports clients in the region, but Seymore expects the group to establish a West African office within the next three to five years.
Goals and Objectives
Seymore says Chryso SA’s immediate plans include further investment in concrete technology to create value-adding services, and products such as pigments and release agents: “The local market is pretty stagnant, so any company that can innovate and provide cost-saving solutions will have an edge . . .”
He also notes that providing support and technical assistance for clients is vital, as it adds another dimension to the product offering, especially amid the abundance of cheap imports from Asia and the Middle East.
Further, Chryso SA aims to complete a research facility in Jet Park, Gauteng, which will comprise chemical, concrete and cement laboratories. The facility, scheduled for completion by the end of June, is meant to develop products specifically for the African market while offering regional testing services.
Further, Seymore says there are plans to establish concrete technology laboratories in Durban and Cape Town to facilitate faster results for clients in those provinces, as they currently send aggregate to the Johannesburg laboratories for testing, “which is inconvenient in terms of cost and time”.
Much of Chryso SA’s and Chryso Group’s success can be attributed to financially sound acquisitions and partnerships over the past decade, he says. This includes the 2010 acquisition of construction chemicals supplier a.b.e Construction Chemicals, which was instrumental in expanding Chryso’s product range.
Chryso SA has also partnered with the UK-based diversified manufacturing consortium Low & Bonar Group (L&BG). Seymore says: “Chryso SA will launch structural fibre solutions in Africa on behalf of L&BG’s Adfil Construction Fibre division later this year.”
He notes that Chryso SA benefits significantly from being part of a global entity, as it has access to vast amounts of research and global resources.
Chryso SA and Chryso Group
Chryso Group subsidiary Chryso SA was established in 1996 and has since expanded from being an operation in Cape Town to also having sales and production facilities in Durban and Johannesburg, where its head office is now based.
The company grew significantly from 1999 to 2009 and has been involved in numerous large-scale and high-profile infrastructure projects since 2006. It has supplied or advised on the use of concrete products for the construction of seven 2010 FIFA World Cup stadiums, as well as the Medupi and Kusile power stations, the Gautrain rail project and the Durban port upgrade.
Seymore asserts that Chryso Group remains committed to the socioeconomic growth and development of South Africa and will continue to create opportunities for the construction community, while positioning itself for continuous and sustainable development.