MC-BAUCHEMIE – CONSTRUCTION CHEMISTRY
MC-Bauchemie was established 55 years ago, going on to become one of the leading international producers of building chemical products and technologies, with a staff of over 2,500 employees spread across 40 countries.
They have, over those 55 years, acquired a renowned reputation for sophisticated and advanced technologies and solutions, guided by the long-term perspective and consistency that comes with three generations operating as a privately held company. This means the company is trading not just on its products, but the high quality of their technical support. We learn how MC-Bauchemie is serving the Ghanaian market while educating it on just what quality concrete means.
“As a construction chemicals company, we have a wide range of product lines, including concretes, floor-filling, concrete repairs and grouts, waterproofing sealants. Virtually, a full range of construction chemicals,” explains Noble Bediako, Managing Director of MCBauchemie Ghana. “Our unique selling point is the quality of our products and our strong technical support. We are not just a product supplier but a solution provider. We always believe your product is only as good as its application. If a product is not well applied, no matter how good it is, it won’t fulfil its intended purpose. So we offer technical support and capacity deployment for our customers to ensure our products are used in the most effective way.”
It is an exciting time for the company, which through MC Ghana has just commissioned a new production plant in Accra. This new facility will raise the manufacturing capacity of the Ghanaian company to a whole new level. “Since we started our operations in 2016 in Ghana, we embarked on extensive research on (a) how to customize our products to suit Ghana construction needs (b) how to improve on the quality, but at affordable prices. We realized that there is no point in importing already finished products. So in 2018, we have started our own local production, starting with concrete admixtures” Bediako says.
Their market research also revealed that Ghana does not necessarily need the entire MC-Bauchemie product range. Therefore, the new production plant will focus, for now, on providing 16 niche product groups, applying the kind of first-class quality standards that their global brand is known for. These target products will have properties and attributes that are adapted to the needs of the
regional construction sector.
The company already produces various concrete admixtures such as superplasticisers, retarders and hardening accelerators for the Ghanaian market, but the new facility will offer customers a comprehensive service with enhanced technical support.
“As of July 2019, we started a new production facility for concrete repair mortars, powder products for floor hardening, materials for waterproofing and expanded our concrete admixture production capacity. We incorporate up to 90% of local raw materials in the production” Bediako says.
The project has not been a solo effort, however. The new plant is the result of a network of partnerships and collaborations all across MC-Bauchemie’s supply chain. “We are not doing this alone. We have a whole supply chain we are working with, doing a lot of collaboration with universities and working with the Ghana Institution of Engineering to demonstrate how this technology can be used,” Bediako tells us. “Then also we are working with the National Vocational Training Institute to train young artisans in the application of materials.”
In addition to the unavailability of part of the raw materials, MCBauchemie also faces challenges in Ghana regarding the literacy of the market when it comes to concrete technology and concrete admixtures
“For us, the biggest challenge is the know-how in ‘modern’ concrete technology. People still have a basic understanding of concrete. Interestingly, in Ghana 99% of our construction is made out of concrete and blocks in the urban areas,” Bediako says. “So the know-how as to what constitutes concrete beyond the basics is very important. People have to understand what concrete is, what you are offering, and what your solutions are. Also, because there is no strict enforcement of regulations, the market is saturated with inferior products that prey on the market’s lack of proper understanding of concrete”.
It is an issue the company has been working hard to mitigate. In the last few years, the company has seen over 700 craftsmen applicators, architects, engineers and construction operatives across a number of companies pass through MC-Bauchmie’s training in the manufacture and repair of concrete. The ideals of knowledge-sharing and training are, for MC-Bauchemie, literally set in concrete.
Bediako points out, “We have trained over 700 engineers and architects in concrete technology, which has been one of our biggest impacts on the sector. The training we provide is free, so we position ourselves to be competitive by letting people understand the dynamics of the product.”
Indeed, the new production facility is being accompanied by a training centre in Accra. The centre will deliver a whole curriculum of related courses, as well as a modern concrete laboratory to support construction industry practitioners to improve the quality of construction. These training courses are grounded in the company’s local research and development efforts, conducted in collaboration with local universities to give the Ghanaian construction sector the best possible construction materials.
The efforts have been supported by MC-Bauchemie’s long-standing business relations that reach throughout the entire African continent.
“Since we have started MC Ghana in 2016, we have fully dedicated ourselves to capacity development and training for our clients and customers,” Bediako explains. “We do a lot of training in Ghana and Germany on concretes, and currently we are running a series of concrete technology training with the Ghana Institution of Engineering. Our mother company, MCBauchemie Mueller GmbH & Co. KG, located in Bottrop, Germany has been very supportive in this regards”.
And of course, these efforts are also an essential part of building a talent pool for MC-Bauchemie themselves to recruit. “We are doing a lot of work with local raw materials, produced locally, which means local competencies, so we are investing in a lot of staff, especially younger ones from the universities such as the University of Ghana where there is a good engineering department sending us young, dynamic graduates,” Bediako says. “Even as we speak I have sent one of them to Germany for further training. It provides hope for the future to know that.”
With the market becoming increasingly educated, and a bold new generation of talent being nurtured, the future is looking bright for MC-Bauchemie within Ghana.
“The future looks great, with a lot of projects coming up, a lot of development happening in Africa and West Africa,” Bediako tells us. “We are expanding from Ghana, supplying to other countries, as we speak we are working with mining companies, so I consider the future to look very bright, with a lot of infrastructure opportunities coming up. We are able to meet these demands and offer strong technical support.”