SA Roofing: How long have you been in the fastener business? How did you start and eventually end up as the MD of Engineering Edge?
Jason N Hoo: I have been in the industry for about 21 years. I started out working for an Australian fastener manufacturing company, Spurway Cooke in 1996. I was responsible for regional sales and marketing for their construction fastening products. I covered a few countries in Asia and made an impact by taking over significant market share from the competition. Sales for their construction products soared exponentially, and I guess I started to attract attention in the market. I was then approached by Taiwanese manufacturers who invited me to their factory and showed me the work they were doing for their European and American customers.
I realised then that these were the people who had the capability to transform a hand-drawn idea into the real product on our shelves. They have the engineering know-how, but they were engineers and needed someone to bring the products directly to the end users. I was eventually invited to join them and I formed Engineering Edge in 1999 in Singapore to facilitate global sales. So, today we are a group of companies with head office in Singapore, regional offices in a few locations such as Eastern Europe and the Middle East as well as manufacturing facilities in Taiwan and Vietnam.
SA Roofing: Tell us about your brands which are distributed in South Africa.
Jason N Hoo: We operate under three trademarks: Corroshield, Tapperman and Dyno. Corroshield as the name reflects, is our corrosion resistant range of fastening products. This brand caters to customers demanding the best in corrosion technology. Corroshield is our ultra-premium range, we apply the most advanced technology at our disposal, which has been embraced by our demanding industrial, oil and gas customers in the construction sector. Tapperman, while still delivering uncompromising performance, is our economical range. In Europe, it is widely available in hardware stores as a retail product.
Dyno is the brand we use for our structural products. These brands serve the construction, industrial, oil and gas industries across more than 20 countries. Our fasteners are used from mild to extreme applications, such as on oil rigs in the middle of the ocean. Corroshield and Tapperman are available in South Africa through Corroshield South Africa. Their head office is based in Cape Town with a distribution facility in Johannesburg that distributes nationally and internationally. We started off with roofing and cladding fasteners and now also supply fasteners to the light weight steel framing industry. We are always exploring new opportunities to bring in new products in our Corroshield, Tapperman and Dyno range.
SA Roofing: There are a number of companies importing fasteners into South Africa; what makes Corroshield different?
Jason N Hoo: We are the only brand distributed in South Africa which is directly backed by a manufacturer. This is very important when you look at it from three key support aspects: sales, technical and quality. We actively participate with Corroshield South Africa and their partners in communicating with end-users to learn and understand about their needs. This will help us in improving our product design to cater to the local market. Through communication, we can also discover new ideas, so new R&D projects can be implemented back home. We also continuously provide all our partners and customers with fastener technical knowledge by means of free training. This important job will eliminate all the inaccurate information provided by unethical competition that are only interested in moving their stocks. We also hope to raise the South African construction standard by giving the correct information. Being a manufacturer also means that in the unlikely event of a quality issue, we rectify those problems at manufacturing level. This includes getting our team to conduct root cause analysis and arrive at the necessary corrective actions to assure that the same problem does not occur again. If you look at it from these angles, no other company can deliver that in South Africa.
SA Roofing: Every company assures their fastener quality. Other than being a manufacturer, what makes your company stand out?
Jason N Hoo: I know that a few of our competitors carry out anti-corrosion tests with third party testing companies. Some even play a significant role in the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS)’s national standards (SANS) board and obviously have an influence in how the standards will eventually pan out. We do it differently. Corroshield fastener are not only sold in South Africa. They are sold in more than 20 countries around the world and we must meet the quality standards of these 20 plus countries. In Singapore, we have a longterm collaboration with Singapore Test Services and TUV. All statutory boards or international test laboratories. We carry out mechanical tests as well as anti-corrosion tests, on a fixed interval, as a form of product assessment. Additionally, to sell into Europe, our product must be European Conformity (CE) certified. This means that our production line, work flow and quality control processes are audited annually by CE to ensure that we meet the minimum quality requirement. This is our license to export into Europe. Corroshield is also a Factory Manual (FM) approved product. Several major projects around the world now requires FM approval as a form of quality assurance. An additional team of auditors from FM will audit annually based on their own assessment requirements. If not, we will not be qualified for their projects. I don’t think you can find any fastener company in South Africa that is subjected to such stringent levels of quality assessment.
SA Roofing: What is your strategy for the South African market?
Jason N Hoo: Without revealing too much, we are looking at the entire African continent rather than just South Africa itself. And we are also looking at other industries other than just roofing.
For the roofing industry, we will be moving in two directions: to introduce advanced coating technology and effective fastener designs. We hope to eventually lift the entire construction sector to a different level. Coating technology today is developing very quickly. Unfortunately, for the roofing industry, everybody is still talking about mechanical plating with 25um of coating thickness performing 1 000 hours of salt spray test. We are already delivering to our industrial customers’ nano coating technology where 0.5um of coating can perform that same 1 000 hours of performance. Imagine that! Also from fastener design, everyone is using what is available. We are the only company innovating our products and everyone else is following us. For example, for concealed fix applications there was only Phillips drive head available on the screws. While this is very common, it isn’t a very effective drive. Without re-inventing the wheel, we innovated to manufacture square drive fasteners. Our customers are thrilled because we have drastically reduced their wastage and improved the ease of use.
I don’t think you can find any fastener company in South Africa that is subjected to such varied yet stringent levels of quality assessment.”
SA Roofing: You mentioned about innovating. What are some innovative fastening products Corroshield have launched in South Africa?
Jason N Hoo: In 2014, we launched DuoTapp. It is a fastener with a special drill point that can drill into timber as well as steel. This is an excellent product for customers who want to reduce their inventory. Customers who have embraced DuoTapp enjoy huge savings in their inventory holding. In 2015/2016, we launched the S17 timber drill point for our TimTapp range. This product was designed after we witnessed several installation failures because of split timber purlins. The conventional drill point for timber would be the type 17 point. While type 17 will penetrate timber, it has a huge flaw. It splits the timber purlin when installed close to the edge, resulting in a drastic reduction in pull out strength or sheet pull over strength. In our advertisements it is shown being used as close as 10mm to the edge of the timber purlin without splitting it.
When it comes to fasteners for roofing and cladding we are the only company bringing in new innovative fastening products into the South African market. While it is indeed an uphill task to educate, and convince South African customers to even try a new product, we hope that in the long run they can realise the real value in the innovations we have brought into the market. Also look out for another one of our new innovations to be launched sometime later in 2017.
SA Roofing: What would you say is your organisation’s biggest strength and why are these strengths important?
Jason N Hoo: We serve three types of key industries: construction, industrial (as in mass production in a factory like automotive components), and oil and gas. We have vast experience and wide exposure from all these customers to deliver products that not only work, but work consistently in a stable manner. The factory is quality audited, not just from construction related governing bodies, but also by auditors from industrial and oil and gas customers. I don’t think any of our competitors can beat that. They import and trade, that’s about it. I’ll cite two examples: firstly, we supply fasteners to on-rig or sub-sea pipeline companies. Their requirement is that our fasteners must withstand corrosion when used in such hostile environment. What’s worse, the operating temperature can go up to 320⁰C. The coating applied must also withstand heat while still preventing corrosion. Secondly, when we supply fasteners to industrial customers, especially fasteners for automotive industry, dare say, in the event of a product deviation, we are required to carry out root cause analysis, followed by corrective actions, and timeline to realign all that back to a satisfactory standard. This culture is already ingrained into our organisation. Again, I dare say none of our competition can provide that. These strengths are advantages that South African customers can take advantage of to create an edge for themselves over their competitors. Today’s roofing business is so competitive it’s all about price.
Article Featured in SA Roofing Magazine
Unless you have a special relationship with the end-user, it becomes a price fight. Use our products, take advantage of our training, knowledge and support to differentiate your roofing products from the next competitor. We have several global customers who buy our products and seek our assistance in clinching major projects. They sell their roofing as a package which includes a reputable fastener company. We would go in together with these clients and impress their end-users on the importance of fasteners, our assurance, and how our clients differ from the rest. It gives the end-users a comprehensive assurance.