Tile It Like It Is

MANILA, Philippines - How can a brand with such a solid reputation and strong recall in the Philippines stay competitive in today's times? A pioneer in the Philippine ceramic tile industry, Mariwasa was established by the brothers Emerson and Edison Co Seteng 40 years ago, and has since been known for its excellent wall and floor tiles made with excellent Filipino craftsmanship. The company has not only managed to stay relevant, it has maintained its market leadership and continues to help build the country with the business infused with the dynamism and stability of one of the ASEAN region's biggest industry leaders, Thailand's longest established and largest industrial conglomerate, Siam Cement Group (SCG).

SCG, according to the MSCI corporate history, was founded in 1913 following a Royal Decree of His Majesty King Rama VI to produce cement, eliminate reliance on imports of cement, as well as maximize the use of natural resources available in Thailand. Since then, it has continued to conduct its business in accordance with the concept of Corporate Governance. It has in place an effective oversee system to ensure transparency, disclosure and verification for mutual interests of all stakeholders and for sustainable growth.

Filipino Craftsmanship

Through this partnership formed in 1993, Mariwasa, now called Mariwasa Siam Ceramics, Inc. (MSCI), has continued to deliver its mission and maintain its hold in the local market as a highly dependable brand, even as many other imported and local brands have been introduced to compete as the favored choice for tiles.

In spite of this challenge, newly appointed MSCI President Anukul Kongrit, who met with the local media recently, shares, "We still see the opportunity in the Philippine market. We believe that Filipino craftsmanship is world-class."

"We are actively banking on different company policies and initiatives to set us apart from our competitors," he continues. To increase their competitive advantage over other imported tiles, they invest in continuous research and development programs to offer world-class ceramic tiles with uncompromising quality, "built to last and [can] stand the test of time. We value our customers and we want to offer them products that will give more value to their money."

Innovative Solutions

At the foundation of their edge is the winning combination of SCG's advanced technology transfer and Mariwasa's local market knowledge. Asked to further detail their plans to stay on top, Kongrit shares, "Instead of increasing the prices of products, we will focus on developing product innovations, thereby giving more benefits to consumers. We will offer these innovations without any additional cost."

Presented under the Innovative Solutions theme, Kongrit helped demonstrate the merits of 39 new designs, all techno-enhanced and eco-driven designs, boasting of safety (anti-slip and easy to clean) and scratch-free features. The group's product and marketing officers also introduced Cotto, a leading ceramic tile and sanitary ware brand in Thailand, which they now carry.

Builders, designers, homeowners and developers can also look forward to more pioneering tile innovations MSCI will be introducing in the coming months, which will cater more to the market's discriminating tastes in aesthetics, like high definition tiles, which have sharper and more vivid designs, and water- and stain-resistant, and therefore, more hygienic celadon tiles, and finally (at least for this year), new sizes for tiles, including the 20x40 wall tile and the much thinner and lighter slim 5.5mm slim tiles, which are ideal for renovations and which will reduce work time and increase cost savings.

Environmental Integrity

With these innovations and leadership developments, the company, given the Philippine Quality Award in Malacanang in 2011, and IMS Certifications by Certification International (ISO-9001 for Product Excellence and Quality, ISO-14001:2004 for Environment Management System, OHSAS 18001: 2007 for Occupational Health and Safety Management System), aims to continue increasing their strength in the Philippine market and hopefully, within the whole of Asia by 2015.

What is probably most admirable is that beyond working on improving their products, MSCI takes the extra step of ensuring they safeguard the integrity of the environment they operate in by integrating sustainable development in all aspects of their operations, looking after the health and safety of the people in the workplace. The company advocates green initiatives and environmental sustainability and also leads in the sustainable development practice. Their CSR projects include tree planting and nurturing programs, Gawad Kalinga volunteer programs, scholarships, and continued support of local community programs. In 2009, they were awarded the Hall of Fame Award from the Department of Energy's Don Emilio Abello Energy Efficiency Award and the Blue Sky Award for renewable energy utilization in the use of rice husks to create sustainable energy and raw materials. Mariwasa is also the first ceramic tile company to be granted the license to use the environmental seal of Green Choice Philippines, the national eco-labeling program.

"Mariwasa has been in the business for over 40 years. With our new product innovations, we want to live true to our name as the pioneer in the ceramic tile manufacturing industry in the Philippines. We will not be complacent. We will strive harder to reach our goals, for the key to success in business is to challenge and overcome oneself," Kongrit assures.