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Small-scale construction firms suffer amid slump in demand

As demand for foundation pillars grows for large-scale construction projects, many smaller operators in the sector say they have been suffering from a slump in sales.
As demand for foundation pillars grows for large-scale construction projects, many smaller operators in the sector say they have been suffering from a slump in sales. Sreng Meng Srun

Small-scale construction firms suffer amid slump in demand

Small business owners in the pillar construction industry say they are facing hard times as demand increases for large pillars but diminishes for small-scale construction.

Hun Bun Heng, who owns a small business on Street 272 that makes pillars for homes, said sales had been flat since last year’s contested elections, and that many construction projects had been postponed. However, he noted that sales had since normalised in Kampong Speu, Takeo and other provinces.

He added that his business specialised in making small-scale pillars – ranging from three to six metres in height – for the construction of flats. He said prices ranged from $10 to $20 per pillar.

“If the political situation normalises, we expect that our business will be revived, and sales are already growing gradually,” he said. “We were selling 700 to 800 pillars per month before the elections, but sales plummeted after they were held.”

According to Heng, the pillars, which are needed as foundation supports, can today be put in place with little disturbance to neighbours because new technology makes it possible to drill with very little noise and with minimal vibrations.

Kov Meng, owner of Craft Made Pillar Hay Meng, agreed that sales had fallen in the aftermath of last year’s elections, but he said he expected that the situation would improve later this year. He said he usually sells around 100 to 200 pillars per month, but prices have been flat for some time.

“Our products are used for building flat units that require foundation pillars of between three and six metres in height,” Meng said.

He added that the height of pillars depended on where the construction took place.

“For flat units downtown, pillars that are three to four metres in height are enough, but if the land is next to a riverbank or a lake, they need to be six metres,” he said.

Meanwhile, pillar-makers that provide foundation construction materials for larger-scale projects report that business has improved.

Chheang Bona, director of 7FTD Co, Ltd in Vihear Sour commune, in Kandal province’s Ksach Kandal district, said that his business grew 25 per cent so far this year in comparison with last year, and that the growth, he thought, reflected the growth in the construction sector.

Bona said his products are made using the latest technology, and that he had invested a further $4 million into his business on top of an existing $7 million in investment capital in order to meet market demand.

“We expect that property development and construction sector growth will continue to be strong and steady looking ahead,” he said, adding that his company was currently enjoying sales of between 3,000 and 5,000 pillars per month.

7FTD makes foundation pillars ranging from six to 12 metres and their installation requires the supervision of experienced engineers, Bona said, adding that for this reason his company was the sole point of sales.

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