Thai firm gives back to PH

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THAILAND’S Mahaphant Group, maker of the Shera brand of fiber cement products, is making its presence felt in the Philippines not only by providing Filipinos with top quality products but also by giving back to the community.

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The company joined the Central Lumber Corp. (CLC) early this year in supporting the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) in its School Rehabilitation Program, an initiative which aims to repair school buildings damaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in Northern Cebu.

The company contributed 2,500 square meters of Shera Trilon, a new fiber cement roof tile product. The project, which recently culminated in a turnover ceremony held in Daanbantayan, Cebu on October 21, was able to rehabilitate the classrooms and buildings of six schools.

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

Under the program, Shera will donate building materials and teach beneficiaries from an underprivileged community about home building under Shera advisory engineers. The pioneer beneficiaries will then sustain and share the knowledge gained through the project with other members of the community.

Early this year, Mahaphant Group announced plans to invest $20 million to put up a fiber cement manufacturing plant in Luzon, which is expected to be operational by 2017.

The company said the preliminary feasibility study for the facility is set to be completed by the end of the year. It will then engage a team of international consultants to conduct a full-scale study, which is expected to be ready by mid-2015.

At a media briefing on Friday, Veerasak Kittinanthakool, vice president for international business of the Mahaphant Group, said that company aims to hit $20 million in local sales by 2015.

He added that the company targets to be the market leader in Asean—which it believes has a market potential of $5 billion—in the next three to five years.

He said Shera’s expanded presence in the Philippines contributes to the company’s growing position in the Asean region. 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.

The Mahaphant Group opened its first office in the Philippines in May this year. 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.

This first phase of its expansion in the Philippines has opened ample opportunities to the company in terms of consumer and market support for branding, marketing and technical services. It has also allowed the company to introduce 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.

Following stringent inspection by the Philippine Center of Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development (PCEPSDI) of its manufacturing facilities in Thailand, the National Ecolabelling Program of the Philippines recently renewed Shera’s Green Choice Philippines certification.

The evaluation covered the brand’s non-asbestos fiber cement production process, including raw material sourcing, machinery systems, and recycling process, among others. Shera was first awarded the certification in 2008.

“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.

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