The Incredible Mulk

“The extent of the success wasn’t very clear [at the start], but at that moment it was a modern material, a new technology, and for me it was clear that this was the material of the future for the buildings,” Mulk says.

With stiff competition from Germany and Japan (especially from firms like Mitsubishi), Mulk says he placed huge focus on the quality standards, and had the product tested and third-party certified. That attention to detail has helped to make Alubond the clear market leader.

“The production capacity globally for Alubond is 20 million sq m. We sell about 13 million.

"My next competitor, in Germany, has a production capacity of 11 million. They sell about 7 million,” he says.

By establishing plants in places like Turkey and India, where there are protection laws for local industry, Mulk says Alubond is able to build from within the markets.

“The sheer volumes that we do, the cost of procurement is much lower, so we are very competitive. We give quality at [a good] price. We’re about 15 to 20 percent lower than our competitors,” he says.

Three years ago, Mulk invested $20m in a new plant in Serbia, which he says has been able to serve the European and Russian markets, owing to its free trade agreements.

“Russia is a very large market. It’s a 20 million sq m market by itself and we are number one by brands there,” he says, adding that the company will this year look at setting up a plant in Russia, and possibly the US.

While the brand originated in the US, Alubond isn’t doing much of note there, mainly because Mulk found the costs were high.

“It [the US] might worth looking at it again because now we are selling strongly in the South American market already.

“There will be a plan. Either we go back into the US and put it in Rockport, and do the North American and South American markets, or we actually go to one of the South American markets, like Mexico. The trade agreements are very important us.”

Diversification has been a key factor in Mulk Holdings’ success, he says, with 25 companies currently operating under the group’s umbrella.

“We diversified the group interest to make sure we’re not depending only on the building industry,” says Mulk.

“Growth slowed down. Europe was the biggest hit, but so was everyone else, including us. We were lucky that we got a balance in that Turkey, Russia and India never slowed down. The Middle East slowed down by about 25 or 30 percent.

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