Interview with Daniel Bach, CEO Holcim Romania.
Holcim Romania announced a 35 million EUR investment for 2011, with 75% more than last year, to develop projects on environment protection and energy efficiency. What is your strategy in this regard, taking in consideration that the country’s economic situation is still cloudy?
We believe in the potential of the local market and we expect that in the next years the construction and real estate market will come back to growth.
One of our priorities in the years to come is to continue to reduce the carbon footprint of our products. New facilities will be installed in our cement plants from Campulung and Alesd in order to increase the waste co-processing capacity and thereby to reduce the utilisation of coal, which is a non-renewable resource.
We focus on investing in environment protection and energy efficiency projects, because we have placed sustainable development at the heart of our business strategy for many years and we recognize the evidence of the risk of climate change and of security of energy supply. This is why we have taken significant steps and implemented Best Available Techniques in our production facilities and we collaborated with our costumers to develop construction solutions which lower the environmental impact.
What strategies will you apply this year to support the cement sales?
Holcim Romania strategy is to maintain a high quality of products, combined with technical services that add value for our customers, and to build partnerships with our customers to last in good times, as well as in difficult economic periods. An example in this regard is our new bag cement, Structo Plus, which was launched this year and which is one of the best offers on the market at this moment.
Structo Plus is Holcim’s premium bag product, which has been developed based on understanding end users’ needs. Structo Plus is a versatile type of cement that meets the requirements of the most demanding constructors, because the key element in creating this new cement was the direct two way communication with the end users.
As an important Swiss investor and one of the most important players in the market, what estimations do you have regarding the potential of the construction and real estate market on a short term?
We believe that the construction market has a good potential for development in the next few years, taking in consideration the need for non-residential and residential space and infrastructure.
Still, 2011 will be another difficult year for the construction market and for the cement industry, because the signs of recovery are modest. Whilst the signs on the non-residential construction side are relatively positive, the picture is mixed with regard to the residential sector when we look at new permits issued. An encouraging aspect is that several major infrastructure projects, particularly on Corridor IV, have already finished the stage of tendering and if these projects are launched this year, they will stimulate not only the construction market, but also the economy in general.
This spring you took the mandate of CEO of Holcim Romania. What did you already applied or intend to apply from your experience in Asia in order to keep the activity of the company at a high level, taking in consideration the very competitive level of the local construction market?
The key success factors in the building materials market are mainly the same everywhere, but you have to understand the local context in order to see how you can apply the universal principles to one particular market. Among these key success factors are efficiency in production and meeting the expectations of the clients and to be costumer oriented and I already applied this philosophy since I arrived in Romania and I will continue it.
The Asian markets which I experienced are more bag oriented than the Romanian market, but I would say that, for example, the Philippines market is similar to the Romanian one in terms of intensity of competition and the need for a company like Holcim to be very customer focused in order to be successful.
Sustainable development is a very current theme and of first interest. What are Holcim’s inovations in terms of sustainable products?
Holcim Romania offers a wide range of products and services that meet the most diversified requirements, for all types of construction. The development and promotion of new environmentfriendly products such as composite cements or special binders for soil stabilization used for instance in road construction are a constant priority for Holcim Romania.
Composite cements contain mineral admixtures such as slag from the iron production or fly ash from coal fired power plants, having therefore a lower clinker content. This significantly reduces CO2 emissions and helps protect the environment considering that the clinker production process is the main source of CO2 emissions in the cement industry.
Furthermore, the special binders for soil stabilization, a flagship product group introduced by the company on the Romanian market in 2004, contribute to the durability of infrastructure projects.
Holcim (Romania) S.A. has two cement plants in Campulung and Alesd, and one grinding station in Turda, 19 ecological concrete stations, 5 aggregate plants and one cement terminal in Bucharest. Holcim (Romania) S.A. has approximately 1.100 employees. Holcim is one of the world’s leading suppliers of cement and aggregates (crushed stone, gravel and sand) as well as further activities such as ready-mix concrete and asphalt including services.
The Group holds majority and minority interests in around 70 countries on all continents.