Thai fiber cement manufacturer mulls $20-M plant here for ASEAN market


The Mahaphant Group, one of Thailand’s largest manufacturers of fiber cement products under the SHERA brand, expects its sales revenues from its Philippine operations to reach $20 million in 2015 from the expected $14 million sales this year as the company is firming up a $20 million manufacturing investment that will transform the Philippines as a production hub not just for the local market but for the ASEAN market, as well.

Veerasak Kittinanthakool, vice- president – International Business of the Mahaphant Group, said during a press conference that the company, since its establishment of a local office in May this year, has already captured as much as 20 percent of the local market for fiber cement products.

Kittinanthakool said the preliminary feasibility project for its $20 million fiber cement manufacturing plant is expected to be completed by the end of the year while a full-scale study will be ready by 2015. The first machine will be established somewhere in Luzon and is expected to be completed by 2017.

Some of the capacities of the plant, which will have a production capacity of 10 million square meter of fiber cement, will be supplied to the local market and for the ASEAN market.

The local expansion is underpinned by the fact that the Philippines is part of SHERA’s Tier 1 market in the ASEAN region, posting a 50 percent growth in domestic sales this year.

So far, the company sales 5 million square meters of fiber cement all imported from its Thailand plant.

“We expect this demand to double in the next three years so the 10 million square meter plant capacity will be there to support the domestic market,” he said.

According to Kittinanthakool, the company will try to source all its raw materials requirement locally, including fiber pulp, which accounts for 20 percent of its total raw materials requirements. Other raw materials like cement and additives can  be sourced domestically.

The expansion will make the Philippines its only production hub of fiber cement products outside of Thailand.The Thai firm is also seeking to register its investment with the Board of Investments.

SHERA’s expanded presence in the Philippines is in line with its goal of increasing its local footprint and further develop its ASEAN network.  Offices in Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam were also established this year, and two more outposts are expected to be opened in Myanmar and Cambodia in 2015.

Its regional expansion will support the company’s goal to be the market leader in ASEAN – which it believes has a market potential of $5-billion – in the next 3 to 5 years.

The SHERA Building Solution (Philippines) office currently employs eight Thai and Filipino staff, with plans to increase employee count to 18 to 20 by next year.

The group has already introduced new quality products such as SHERA Roof and SHERA Wood – its Fiber Cement Roof System and Wood Substitute products, respectively – to the Philippine housing sector.

The Mahaphant Group, the largest non-asbestos fiber cement producer in Asia, has also enjoyed continued local recognition for its high-quality and environmentally-friendly offerings under the SHERA brand.

“We are confident that our own advanced R&D technology, together with our marketing experience in creating new product categories for the ASEAN market, will offer even better housing and building solutions in the Philippines,” said Kittinanthakool.

Apart from providing Filipinos with top quality products, SHERA also endeavors to give back to the local community. The company joined hands earlier this year with the Central Lumber Corporation (CLC) to support the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI) in its School Rehabilitation Program, an initiative which aimed to repair school buildings damaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda in Northern Cebu. Specifically, SHERA contributed 2,500 sq. meters of SHERA Trilon, a new fiber cement roof tile product.

As part of the Mahaphant Group’s corporate social responsibility initiatives, it plans to launch the SHERA Shelter Project early next year to benefit Yolanda victims from Tacloban, Leyte.

by Bernie Magkilat
Manila Bulletin | November 28, 2014