Innovative Products for Iconic Projects

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-By Aleisha Parr

As a specialty chemical supplier for the building and construction industry, Sika Australia prides itself on being technically driven and project-motivated. The company – a global player in specialty chemicals with local presence in 76 countries – maintains a product line featuring high-quality concrete admixtures, specialty mortars, sealants and adhesives, damping and reinforcing materials, structural strengthening systems, industrial flooring as well as roofing and waterproofing systems. Business is typically balanced between contractors, architects, engineers and other specifiers, and distribution marketing through retail hardware, providing the best quality and optimal service to every customer.

With head offices in Switzerland, Sika’s global presence with 120 production and marketing companies has been expanding with great temerity, especially in the Asia/Pacific region of which Sika Australia is a part. Locally, Sika Australia has been developing its new corporate website, which will be the turning point of the company’s web strategy for 2012, promoting some of the iconic projects that Sika Australia has been instrumental in.

“The Victoria Desalination plant is one of the major projects that we’ve been involved with, in the past year or so,” shares Jenny Perello, Marketing Services Manager for Sika Australia. “We focus heavily on project specifications; investing with the right technical sales and market field expert team including product engineers to understand the overall scope of the project and most importantly, partnering with architects and contractors involved to ensure the correct system is specified for the project.”

“The quality of our product and the continuous service we provide to our customers is what makes us unique in the industry. We work closely with our customers, providing them solutions that meet not only the standard requirements, but optimising sales and technical support throughout every phase of the entire construction process.”

Driven as it is by technical requirements, Sika Australia has cultivated a stand-out team of more than a hundred staff including onsite product engineers, well trained customer service and other technical services teams, as well as a well-equipped and knowledgeable sales force. The company has access to over a thousand products available throughout Australia in all major capital cities, with warehouse locations including in Sika’s head office in Wetherill Park, NSW, Pinkenba, Gladstone and Garbutt, QLD, Keysborough, VIC, Canningvale, WA, Gepps Cross, SA, Moonah, TAS. However, as most of Sika’s sales are garnered through project-specific use, Ms Perello explains that its products are also made available to all types of professional and non-professional customers through a large network of distribution partners, making Sika products accessible on shelf for the do-it-yourself enthusiast who wants their projects to be easier and safer. “Our distributor and other trade customers value Sika’s reliability and our ‘know-how from Site to Shelf.’”

Most recently, Sika Australia has been involved in the $3.5 million Sydney Harbour Bridge resurfacing and waterproofing project. Early 2010, there was an enquiry for a waterproofing system through Sika Australia, says Ms Perello. It was highlighted that the system must handle structural movement including high traffic loads, provide crack bridging capabilities and reduce the risk of corrosion and structural damage on the bridge deck and steel structure. At that time, there was no system available in Australia and so Sika Australia carried out an investigation through the Sika Group in order to develop the exact system required.

In February 2010, testing started at an independent laboratory, where the most important criteria of the test was to determine the adhesion to the substrate, shear strength, crack bridging properties and installation time. After testing had been completed and the results evaluated, the waterproofing system was then further tested in real conditions and in May 2011, RMS decided to apply a test area of approximately 600 square metres directly on Sydney Harbour Bridge. One of the main products tested was the Sikalastic-841 ST, fast curing pure polyurea membrane, and the product performance was observed and evaluated after six months to ensure that it would fulfil all the requirements.

With the Sika sales and technical teams working closely together with Concrete Remedial Services, the test was successful and the contract was awarded to CRS with Sika’s unique waterproofing system. The project was a great success, completed on time for the eightieth anniversary of the Bridge in March of this year.

“We provide our customers with innovative opportunities and economic solutions,” Ms Perello explains, “we carry through from technical enquiries right through product testing and applications. Our key market field expert looks at every opportunity for solutions available to our local market.”

Although the company does specialise in a number of construction applications, its market areas are actually quite diverse, encompassing the automotive industry and after market; marine; industrial equipment; commercial vehicles; water and power. Sika also develops admixtures for cement and concrete production as well as being highly involved in the mining industry.

“We have dedicated Market Field Managers who are experts in their market field areas,” Ms Perello declares. “With our strength in product knowledge and continuous dedication in service, I can only see Sika Australia growing from strength to strength.”

It’s rare to see a company in the construction industry in such a strong position right now, with the economy as it is and a somewhat stagnant marketplace, but such is the case for Sika Australia. “The Sika brand is well known in the construction industry, and we pride ourselves as a company that supplies high quality products as well as providing constant improvement and innovation throughout our range. It’s about providing added valued to all our customers which makes Sika a great partner for all our customer groups.”

Despite being a supplier of quality products and a well-known brand, Jenny Perello says part of Sika’s success is its company culture, which emphasises working together as a team. “One team, one goal,” as she explains it.

“We all work together as one team; everybody is involved, from sales and marketing, to administration, to customer service and right down to our warehouse and logistic team. It’s a great environment to be part of and everyone definitely makes an effort to ensure we provide the best quality service for our customers.”

Ms Perello says that the company’s success can be largely attributed to its strength in relationship building and its prowess in exploring its market field areas to ensure that the company is abreast of market needs and any gaps unfulfilled. Ultimately, Sika Australia aims to provide each of its customers with the complete solution – and is capable and willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that.

“We continue to look for opportunities in all market field areas and ensure we understand the market closely. It’s all about specifying the correct system or the ‘Sika System’. We offer a diverse range of products and we ensure we provide the best solution for each specific application.”

Sika’s customer involvement doesn’t end there. A large part of the company’s marketing is focussed not on advertising campaigns, but rather on developing quality industry relationships and providing customer support – both on projects and off. Explains Ms Perello: “We hardly do any heavy brand advertising; we do however, associate ourselves with customer level advertising or communications campaigns, such as adverting through customer catalogues, local publications, trade breakfasts or trade nights, trade conferences etc. Our marketing activities revolve around customer partnerships and PR.”

Home Automation

Call it ‘domotics,’ and you are likely to receive a blank stare, but refer to it as ‘smart home’ or ‘home automation,’ and you will get a nod of acknowledgement. For the past few years, consumers have heard the word ‘smart’ attached to countless products and services, from food and drink to snacks like popcorn and mobile phones, which no one seems to refer to as a ‘cellphone’ anymore. Yet what, exactly, constitutes ‘smart’?

July 14, 2020, 1:55 PM AEST