James Hardie eyes reconstruction market, launches new product

James Hardie Philippines has launched its latest HardieFlex flooring product as it positions to become a major player in the country’s booming housing sector and as it partners with the government in the huge reconstruction efforts for the typhoon affected areas in eastern Visayas. Darren Southwell, product development manager of James Hardie Asia Pacific, told reporters at the launch of its “LIVEvolution”, which means living without compromise, to introduce its latest innovation HardieFlex Flooring in Makati Tuesday, that the company is working with a private developer and the government for the supply of materials for government housing in areas affected by super typhoon “Yolanda.” Mark Sergio, sales and marketing director of James Hardie Philippines, has refused to give details of the project stressing discussions are still in the very early stages. Sergio, however, said the government housing project is expected to start within two months. He said that James Hardie’s initial project would be in Guian, a town in Eastern Samar, that also suffered massive damages. “We are looking at Guian and even Capiz because there are already a lot of players attending to the needs for Tacloban,” he said. The role of James Hardie would be to supply HardieFlex products for walls and ceilings and its new HardieFlex flooring. HardieFlex is the market leader among cement fiber board products in the country for walls and ceilings. Cement fiber boards compete with the traditional plywood products. HardieFlex flooring is its latest product to be manufactured at its Cabuyao, Laguna plant where the company invested in research and development. Its flooring product is expected to be its third biggest revenue stream after walls and ceilings, Sergio said. Sergio, however, cannot divulge the economic projection for its flooring product saying it has to be tied to specific projects, but he added its plant has enough capacity to serve growth in demand. He said that the strong growth in the housing sector is sustainable stressing there has been no let up for the past two years. HardieFlex grew 10 percent in 2012 and the company is on track to repeat that same growth rate this year. “You see high-rise residential buildings popping up in urban areas because people prefer to live close to their workplace,” Sergio said noting that there are now condominiums in Iloilo and Davao cities where there used to be only office buildings. “A lot of urbanization is happening, especially with the growth in business process outsourcing industry,” he said. “Our product is strong, and if you just follow our instruction, you will be able to build a very strong house,” Southwell said. Using HardieFlex would also be cheaper considering the time required for its installation, the space constraints and manpower requirement.