The new player in the local cement market, Rock Hard, appears to be settling in for the long haul with a multi-million-dollar investment in new trucks for the company.
Business Day caught up with Managing Director of Rock Hard Distributors Ltd, Ryan Ramhit, after spotting the branded trucks and he told us that competition has been good for the local construction industry.
He said, since the company entered the market in November 2016, it has made an impact. While Ramhit did not identify his major customers in the industry, he did say that the brand has been taken up by a “majority of hardwares”.
“So far I’ve been very happy to see that our product has been well accepted by the general public of Trinidad and Tobago. Our prices are competitive when compared to our competitor. The quality of our product is very competitive also. Our service, and I can speak very clearly about our service, is second to none,” said Ramhit.
Ramhit said the cement Rock Hard produces is hydraulic cement, which exceeds the 20 mega pascals required by most agencies and tests at between 25 and 28 mega pascals. (A mega pascal is a unit used to measure the strength of concrete)
“Our competitor sells a different kind of cement. With our hydraulic cement, you get a faster curation rate. You get higher strength in a shorter period of time. This has been proven by way of test results.”
“We are constantly monitored by regulatory agencies, one being the TT Bureau of Standards. They do a lot of periodical testing on our products. They also do initial testing of each shipment of our product to ensure that we have a high quality of product. If our products didn’t meet those standards we wouldn’t be on the market today,” said Ramhit.
Competition between the new kid and market leader TCL has been intense, resulting in legal action against Rock Hard by TCL and a price war, though Ramhit preferred to stay away from this term.
What he would say though was that Rock Hard contributed to making the construction industry “100 per cent competitive”.
He also said the average consumer has benefitted.
“What I would like consumers to note is what competition does for a market. If you notice the trend of our competitor’s prices, they have dropped drastically in the first three months we came on the market.”
A bag of TCL cement retailed last year for around $60. It currently retails at around $48.
Ramhit told Business Day that Rock Hard entered the market at around $47 and was now currently retailing between $40 and $45.
Regarding an update on the legal action between the two companies, the Rock Hard managing director said TCL could not be faulted for trying to protect its place in the market.
“At the end of the day, I wouldn’t say TCL is wrong for doing what they are doing. Competition is competition. TCL has had a monopoly for as long as we can remember. A few companies came onto the market, but they did not last.
“TCL is just protecting market share. How they wish to do it is their concern. How I wish to respond to it is my concern. I think I have been dealing with it pretty well,” he said.
Beyond this, he did not want to comment on the issue, saying that it was in the hands of his lawyers.