Questionable practices

Some suppliers of hollow-core concrete floor slabs to the Western Cape’s building construction market have been accused by an industry leader of indulging in “questionable practices” to secure business in the highly competitive slab market.


Peter Lord, a director of Topfloor, the province’s largest hollow-core producer, says the Cape’s over-traded hollow-core slab market has twice the capacity required even to meet the needs of a booming market.


“Amid the stiff competition for business, it’s become the norm among some industry players to resort to certain questionable quoting practices which may work in the short term, but risk giving the industry a bad name.”


Mr Lord identified three typical examples of these tactics.


“One is for a supplier to issue a ‘budget price’ when asked for a quote. This should be an immediate danger signal. Unlike a quotation, this can be altered at any time after acceptance, with the excuse by the supplier that he has not costed in the price of various ‘additional items’. My advice to the purchaser is to insist on a formal quote and never accept so-called budget quotes. This then puts the onus on the supplier to do it right the first time.”


Another common ruse was for a supplier to fix a price for a “ridiculously short period” – and then subject the price to an escalation of up to 2% a month.


“Thirdly, some suppliers in the Cape market would give the impression that they are SABS-certified. The fact is that no supplier in the Western Cape can claim the SABS mark. Topfloor however, is close to achieving the SABS mark and ISO 9002 certification, and will most probably be the first Cape manufacturer to achieve this status.”


Topfloor is a member of the Echo Group, which is SABS- and ISO-certificated, and the country’s largest manufacturer of hollow-core concrete floor slabs. Its advanced hollow-core technology, developed from Echo’s 27-year-long record in the industry, is being directly applied in Topfloor’s Cape manufacturing operations.

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