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Rock grinders hit hard times

Rock grinders hit hard times

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Rock grinders in Kampot province are facing the possibility of that their companies could hit the wall.


KAMPOT
CHANGING consumer tastes mean the rock-grinding industry in Beanteay Meas district, Kampot province, is struggling with declining demand, as are the province's makers of traditional furniture that use this kind of granite in their products.

Som Parat, the owner of a small-scale rock-grinding company that has been operating for 20 years, said his machines are now running just two days a week.

"We're really struggling to find a market for granite because our clients in Phnom Penh aren't buying. I have a lot of granite in stock now," he said.

Som Parat said there were two other rock-grinding businesses in his village.
All three provide granite to businesses that make traditional chairs, benches and tables.

Hak Hort owns Hak Hort Industry, a small business in Phnom Penh that buys granite from Kampot distributors and turns it into furniture for direct sale to the end user.

Just one or two customers are visiting his store each week.
"My business is not doing well - I have had hardly any customers for months, which is why I have many tables, chairs and benches in stock," he said. "Right now I don't need any raw material because I have nowhere to keep it."

Before the decline began, his store sold 10 chairs and tables a week, with a set of four chairs and a table costing up to US$150.

"Maybe people don't have as much money as before, or maybe their money is tied up in property, or perhaps it is because they prefer the modern, metal style of furniture," he said.

Ung Nareth, a home designer at the Design & Planning Group, a consultancy, said the country's development means consumers benefit from modern imports.

"Our people these days can earn a lot of money, so they need something new to run parallel with the new world," he said.
"That's why we are seeing that our old-style, locally made tables and chairs are less popular. This is a more modern generation. Everybody wants modern things in their houses - that's normal."

Facing possible closure
Changing consumer tastes mean Som Parat will soon have to decide whether to shut his business temporarily.
When times were good, he was grinding 10 tonnes of rock a week.

His retail price was $2.50 per 50-kilogram sack, and he paid villagers $1 per 100 kilograms of raw rock brought from the mountain quarry nearby.

"Although this is only a small business, it has helped my family and the villagers substantially.

"It allowed my children to pursue their university studies in Phnom Penh," he said. "But now I don't know what to do - things are so quiet."

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