When coordinating large, complex construction projects internationally, it helps to have partners that understand the local market and can provide on-the-ground support. Sam Appiah is Tremco’s VP of International Business who coordinates our Sales and Marketing efforts across the globe. He chatted with us from his office in Toronto about some of the trends and challenges of the international construction industry.
Q. What are some of the international trends you’ve seen in the construction industry?
A. Cities are building upwards, rather than spreading out. There’s also the trend of having both quality products and systems and at a lower cost. Customers want companies that can differentiate themselves but at the same time, the price has to be reasonable. Coming up with sustainable buildings, buildings that do not consume a lot of energy is also paramount.
Q. How do you solve some of these international challenges?
A. Having very good technical support in the international world. What makes systems very expensive is when there are problems with installation. If you look at the quality systems and products that we offer, there’s a peace of mind after you install them. It’s not just that we have the best products that solve problems, we also have a knowledgeable salesforce and technical experts in the region to make sure that our products are applied properly to meet the requirements and objectives that we’ve set for our systems.
The second piece where we offer value is the product that we have. It’s not just the price and the quality, it’s also the value that it brings to the owner and the contractor. We have high-end products that save the customer a lot of time. TREMproof® 250 GC, Vulkem® 45SSL, and Dymonic® 100– are applied to damp and green concrete, so that when it rains, you can apply our products the next day. With competitive applications, you have to wait weeks.
Q. How does training offered by Tremco allow us to help with some of these challenges?
A. There’s a lot of localized training which is an integral component of what we do. We train our key personnel in countries such as Colombia and Chile to become technical specialists and with time, they are going to be the ones who conduct the trainings in their countries. In Australia, we have had several trainings over the years and we’ve conducted three training sessions in India.
Q. What does the modular construction trend look like internationally?
A. It’s a huge trend. China is the leader. They’ve perfected it and are doing it worldwide. They bring the rooms fully furnished and can basically build a city overnight. Because these structures are manufactured in the factory, you want to make sure you have products that can be applied quickly. The trend is really big both in residential and commercial. Our products play well in these areas.
Q. Do construction processes vary internationally?
A. It’s different in different markets. The emphasis on cost changes the way structures are built. The weather can also play a significant role in the construction process. Architects and contractors in other countries sometimes have preferences for different types of products and use them in different applications than we may be used to in North America.
Q. How does language play into the international business that you conduct?
A. It’s less so language in what I do and more of relationship-building. That’s why everything that we do, we try to localize. We have company partners throughout the world including in Europe and the Middle East with Tremco illbruck and in Latin America with The Euclid Group. In India and Australia, we work with native people in order to understand the language and conduct business. We want to make sure we have a local office with local employees who speak the language. It’s all about building relations with the employees so that we can further build relationships with the customers. Appreciating the culture is also key to understanding these international markets.