MD: Good times ahead for building materials industry

Malaysia still offers good opportunities for Ajiya Bhd to establish itself as one of the leading industrial building system providers (IBS) in the country.

Ajiya group managing director Chan Wah Kiang said although the local construction industry had slowed down, the company was confident that it would be back on track again.

He said the company was banking on the announcement made by the Government recently to revive the sector by creating 26 projects worth RM2.4bil.

Chan said the multi-billion dollar integrated holiday resort-cum-casino projects in Singapore would also create demand for building materials.

“We are crossing our fingers for good times ahead in the construction and building materials industry,” he said in an interview.

Chan said it was important for the company to become a leading IBS in the country in view of stiff competition in the construction industry.

“As a one-stop integrated centre for building materials, we are able to customise our products to our clients according to their specifications. Once we have a strong footing in Malaysia, it is only appropriate for us to expand overseas,” Chan said.

The company is building up its Ajiya brand to become a well-known and respectable name in Malaysia and other countries in the region.

“A famous brand will open up more opportunities for the company to market its products and to compete against other regional players,” Chan said.

The company’s safety glass products will enter the Japanese market this year.

Chan said the company was proud to be able to penetrate Japan's safety glass market, known for its stringent requirements.

Ajiya produces tempered and other types of strengthened glass.

Prospects for building materials industry are good as more builders worldwide were looking for new types of materials and designs.

“Building materials made from metal and glass are getting cheaper and more widely used now to replace timber and concrete-based materials,” said Chan.

He said timber was getting more expensive due to its limited supply and campaigns by environmentalists against the cutting down of trees.

Chan said the demand for metal and glass-based building materials was small 10 to 15 years ago because of their limited supply and high prices.

”Wooden door frames were still cheap because of the abundant supply of timber when we started selling metal door frames,” he said.

However, the aggressive campaigns by environmentalists against the cutting down of trees in recent years had caused the price of timber to rise. As such, builders opted for greater usage of metal-based door frames.

According to Chan, the usage of glass has also gained popularity as the building material of choice over concrete.

“Architects all over the world are always on the lookout for materials which can help to reduce energy costs. Glass is that material,” Chan said, adding that Ajiya had the technology to produce glass with design versatility.

Ajiya would focus its attention on developing and strengthening its safety glass segment, which it started in late 2003.

The company is not resting on its laurels although it has an extensive range of safety glass products in the country and probably in the region.

“We are working hard to be a leading glass player in the country first, and like always after that, we will expand beyond Malaysia,” Chan said.

He said the company was also supplying glass to multinational white goods manufacturers and major furniture companies in Malaysia.

Chan said many multinational corporations (MNCs) with local operations also bought Ajiya's glass products and exported them to manufacturing facilities in other parts of the world.

He said among Ajiya's glass products were gas hob tops, microwave oven doors, washing machine windows and computer screens.

Chan said the company also wanted to promote its safety glass among local furniture makers currently relying on imported glass.

He said many local furniture makers were using China-made glass that had “flooded” the market.

“We want to capture a large share of the local furniture glass market within the next two years,” Chan said.

600450 MD: Good times ahead for building materials industry
Date: 15 June 2005

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