Alumex Plc – Gold Standard Aluminium

Alumex is Sri Lanka’s leading manufacturer of aluminium extrusions and profiles, with a commitment to ensuring the environment, and the industry, remain sustainable.

Alumex is Sri Lanka’s largest fully integrated manufacturer of aluminium extrusions and profiles. Since the company started commercial operations in 1988 it has been developed to operate across three manufacturing centres, with three extrusion lines, an anodizing line, three powder coating lines (one vertical) and an aluminium recycling plant. Through these facilities, Alumex produces products not only for its own brand but also for eight globally recognised proprietary brands around the world, with overseas customers in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Italy, and beyond.

Today Alumex has 950 employees working in its factories and exports 25% of its production to overseas markets.

“Our unique selling point is consistency in quality, flexibility in lead times and excellent customer service. We manufacture to the highest global standards,” explains Pramuk Dediwela, Managing Director of Alumex Plc. “There are a few other strengths we command in this business environment including value-added services to our extrusions such as drilling, tapping, welding, fabrication, assembling, etc., the consistency in quality remains our number one differentiator. That’s why we are number one in Sri Lanka.”

Sustainable Aluminium

A key aspect of Alumex’s strategy is its commitment to sustainability, a value it has inherited from its parent company, Sri Lanka’s largest diversified business conglomerate, Hayleys PLC. Within Alumex, that commitment is built around three key pillars.

“The first of those pillars is ‘Creating a positive impact on people’,” says Dediwela. “We’re committed to employee engagement, including training and engagement around safety and wellbeing, as well as supporting local communities.”

The second pillar is concerned with Alumex’s duty to minimise the environmental impact of its factory operations.

“This includes wastewater and energy management. We use all of our roof space. We have solar panels generating 5200 kWh of power per day,” Dediwela explains. “We use technological solutions for water retention. We always use green chemicals, and our aluminium is 50% recycled. We have our own recycling plant.”

The third pillar reflects Alumex’s mission to grow its current business and take on new horizons to improve the lives of its stakeholders. The business allocates 2% of its annual profits to sustainable systems and resources and 2% to increasing employee productivity and building customer satisfaction.

“We are investing in encouraging biodiversity and the rehabilitation of biodiversity by protecting local natural habitats,” Dediwela tells us.

Making the Case for Quality

Alumex has also made a commitment to improving the market environment it operates in. The company has made a name for itself with high-quality products, using state-of-the-art technology and working with recognised and respected suppliers such as the chemical company, Italtecno. Unfortunately, not everyone in the market is competing on those terms.

“Our biggest challenge is competing with non-standard, low-quality goods,” Dediwela admits. “Fighting these non-standard products in the market and building customer awareness is the biggest challenge we face at the moment.”

To build that awareness, Alumex carries out a range of activities to spread education and build awareness in the market.

“We are engaged in a variety of activities. For example, we educate customers through industry events and conferences, holding technical sessions in schools, training centres and universities,” says Dediwela. “We are promoting training in the development of aluminium synthesis to work on these challenges & help build our brand.”

It is clear from our conversation that Dediwela is passionate about training across the industry, and as we talk about Alumex’s recruitment strategy we learn that recruitment is just the first step on a long path of development and investment for Alumex’s staff.

“Post recruitment, we have leadership development and training, development programmes for all employees in the factory who request it or who we find it necessary to train, including scholarship programmes for higher education,” Dediwela tells us.

Alumex has a long and proud history training people in aluminium fabrication, with a training school programme that launched in 1998. This programme was conducted under the supervision of the National Apprenticeship Industrial Training Authority, making Alumex the first Sri Lankan organisation to start training on aluminium fabricators, free of charge.

“The scheme went on to be used by training authorities and educational institutes. It is an NVQ level three programme, and we continue that programme today and upgraded to NVQ level four. We have, on average, trained more than 3,000 candidates a year from 1998 to 2020.” says Dediwela. “This training is free of charge. With Covid-19 it had to stop, but we’ve restarted the programme. Due to restrictions, we conduct it online, but very soon we will bring candidates in to train on our product range as much as possible. It’s an ongoing programme. We’re training them to make a living. It’s one of the best programmes we have at the moment.”

This is just one part of a comprehensive package of investment, support and rewards that Alumex offers its employees and customers.

“We offer recreational facilities and programmes to run recreational activities and the best employee campaign monthly and yearly as well. Last year we distributed masks, and we gave each family one computer tablet per family to go online for homeschooling,” Dediwela explains. “We have all these activities going on with employees and annual and monthly employee meetings every quarter. All the way from the senior to the junior level, these meetings help us understand our employees’ requirements. This is how we retain our highly skilled workforce.”

An Expanding Future

Alumex Plc has already achieved so much, building a sustainable foundation while investing in the industry’s skills base for generations to come, but for Dediwela this is only the beginning.

“We are always expanding. Our last expansion happened in 2018, with the acquisition of an Italian state of the art extrusion press and vertical powder coating line for production expansion,” he tells us. “We’re currently upgrading our recycling plant with state-of-the-art equipment. We are upgrading existing plants and are planning to expand both our local and export markets. Our goal is to attain almost double our current market share. We want to grow by 50% next year. We have various value-added services for filling outlets and construction sites, and we are expanding our capacities to meet the local and overseas market demand.”

It is going to be fascinating to see where Alumex goes next.

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