Construction World

Construction World spoke to Brett Larsen, COO of a.b.e. Construction Chemicals (a.b.e.) about how this company is building on the tradition of optimally providing innovative and quality products to both the retail and mainline construction markets.

abe innovation and qualityBrett Larsen, COO of a.b.e. Construction Chemicals (middle), says a.b.e operates from a solid platform with a diverse product range and competent, dedicated personnel. Here he is with Warren Delaney, Chief Chemist CHRYSO (left) and Mpume Mlalazi, R&D Manager CHRYSO (right) in front of The Centre of Excellence at the Chryso head office in Jet Park.

What is a.b.e.’s offering?

a.b.e.’s offering is diverse. It has five product categories that it sells through three channels. The first component is retail. Products are sold to key national accounts such as Builder’s Warehouse, Cashbuild, etc. This is essentially products for DIY purposes. This channel also includes various independent dealers.

The second channel is construction and comprises contractors, subcontractors and specialised contractors. As these products need skills in terms of the mixing, preparation and application, a.b.e is heavily involved in training in these environments.

Exports is the third channel that is managed by a.b.e.’s business development. Although we call it a ‘channel’, it encompasses both retail and construction products.
We have seen a shift and the retail channel now accounts for 40% of a.b.e.’s business.

What products do you supply within the retail and construction channels?

Within both the retail and construction channels we offer a diverse product offering that includes the following five product categories: waterproofing; flooring; silicone, sealants and adhesives; concrete repair and protection; general construction and high performance coating solutions.

How is research and development at a.b.e guided?

R&D is influenced by understanding the market, global conditions and market demand. In addition to being cognisant of the global status quo, research and development is always market driven. At a.b.e. it is shaped by the link we have with CHRYSO (a.b.e. Construction Chemicals is a wholly owned subsidiary of the CHRYSO Group) which keeps a.b.e. informed of global market initiatives.
In addition, our research and development is influenced from a raw materials perspective when companies sell us new technologies that may develop into new products.

It is also guided by market demand.

In a unique move to combine cement, concrete, and construction systems technology; the CHRYSO Southern Africa Group has recently extended its laboratory testing facilities and opened a new cement laboratory: The Centre of Excellence. Furnished with ultra-modern equipment and temperature control systems, the laboratory can independently test local cement samples. This will assist in creating new product formulations, as well as providing tailor-made solutions to match specific applications and client requirements. The technical team has vast experience in specific technical applications and has recently introduced micro-concrete testing, bleed water testing, absorption testing, methy¬lene blue testing, maturity testing and aggregate water absorption testing to its range of services.

The a.b.e® laboratory in Isipingo has also been upgraded to provide more work as well as customer space. The a.b.e® lab in Boksburg has upgraded its resin laboratory and moved its group processes over to The Centre of Excellence at the Chryso head office in Jet Park.

How much product is imported and manufactured locally?

Much of a.b.e.’s technology is imported and are governed by mainline and international principles. About 60% of our goods are manufactured locally, derived from R&D-based technology in conjunction with Chryso.

What new products does a.b.e. offer the construction market?

Within the construction environment, the latest addition to our range is carbon fibre products: we offer carbon fibre strips and wraps and ancillary products in this range. As it was launched only earlier this year – and is a specification product – future project references will help in educating the SA market about carbon fibre reinforcing which is relatively new in this country.

How does a.b.e add value to the contractor?

For a.b.e., the correct application of the product is vital as this will lead to a good outcome, while the opposite is also true: a less desirable outcome may lead to liability issues. In this regard, the company is involved in continuous professional development through the training of applicators or subcontractors, while product training happens at the a.b.e. offices in Boksburg.

In addition, a.b.e. is a member of various institutes and societies where it does presentations while skilled staff often lectures students at universities that offer civil and related qualifications.

What is a.b.e’s approach to market conditions?

South Africa’s built environment is experiencing suppressed market conditions. Despite such conditions, a.b.e. services both retail and construction channels optimally.

We base our retail strategy on numerical distribution. We ensure that what we have, we look after well. For the retail channel this entails maintaining a good product base, optimal merchandising, stock turnaround, etc. In the construction channel this entails making the a.b.e offering known to professional teams (civil engineers, engineers and quantity surveyors) to get our products specified.

There is a sales team for both the retail and construction channels. The former has 20 sales people while the latter has 24. This excludes managers who are also involved in specification and sales.

What is a.b.e.’s unique selling point?

Our brand is strong and well recognised. Our pay-off line, ‘Tradition, Innovation. Quality’, implies that it is a brand that can be trusted as it has the required technical services, R&D, delivery, logistics, sales service, and operational functionality.
We have invested heavily in backend and operational support systems such as Forecast Pro and DDRMP (demand driven resource material planning) software to improve the availability of stock.

a.b.e. has a solid platform: competent technical as well as retail sales personnel, key account managers, technical product managers, while logistics and operational support is beyond reproach.


Contact Construction World

Title: Editor
Name: Wilhelm du Plessis
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108

Title: Advertising Manager
Name: Erna Oosthuizen
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108

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