Mr. Dean Peng, GM of Elkem Silicon Materials China
Elkem International Trade (Shanghai) Co. Ltd., established in 1997; is a wholly owned subsidiary of Elkem AS. In April 2011, Blue Star Group became owner of Elkem AS through a 2 billion USD acquisition. Elkem Silicon Materials China is part of Elkem Silicon Materials Division that is mainly doing business based on production and sales of microsilica and silicon. Due to recent top management changes in ESM China, Refractories Window makes an interview with Mr. Dean Peng, GM of ESM China to get an update on operational mode and sales strategy of ESM China.
Refractories Window: As we know, the top management of ESM China is now Chinese. Chinese are more familiar with Chinese customer’s needs. After this change in ESM China, are there any changes to operational mode, sales strategy and company organization. For example, what kind of roles will Elkem Materials Processing Plant (Tianjin) and Bluestar Yongdeng Silicon Plant play in the microsilica business of ESM China?
Mr. Dean Peng: Elkem Silicon Materials China will not change its operational mode even if Chinese Dean is now the General Manager, but we will increase our resources focused on the refractory market and build local technical service capability to support our customers inChina. Our processing plant inTianjin is providing high quality microsilica to our Chinese as well as to Japanese, Korean and Indian customers. The Bluestar Yongdeng plant, since Elkem is a Blue Star company now, is provided with Elkem technology to improve both silicon and microsilica quality, and the plant is one of our sources for Elkem products.
Refractories Window: Elkem has been leading the development of China’s microsilica industry since they first entered the Chinese market in 1997 and has strongly promoted the development of castable products. Now there are many microsilica trading companies and producers; however, Elkem has always maintained the position as the top brand. It shows that Elkem’s branding activities has been very successful. Please Mr. Dean Peng could you introduce Elkem’s brands and products and let us know how Elkem is going to build even stronger brands and eliminate fake brands in the market.
Mr. Dean Peng: Thanks for your kind recognition of Elkem. Elkem will continue to focus on our own products and service quality. Our Shanghai Laboratory facilities helps and supports us to provide high quality products to our customers. We have a strict internal standard for our products, making sure Elkem products can meet different customer requirements. Frankly speaking, globally Elkem is the only company not to treat microsilica products as by-products.
I know it is not easy to eliminate fake products in the Chinese market; meanwhile, it is a very good example that the industry trust Elkem and not the small microsilica traders. Of course, we are prepared to take legal actions to eliminate fake products. At the same time, we hope our customers will buy our products through right channels, we have a very good management system, and later we will put all our distributors on our website so customer can easily find right distributors to get Elkem quality products.
Refractories Window: I believe that Elkem’s success in the Chinese market not only is because of high and consistent quality of the products but also because of massive research and development work on microsilica applications in the refractory industry. Elkem has made great contributions to China’s development of unshaped materials. Does Elkem have an innovative R&D team in China and will you continue to increase your investments in research and innovation of microsilica?
Mr. Dean Peng: Elkem is a global company, with global technology teams and global R&D support that cover all customers and all regions including China. We can sell our new products developed by our Elkem Silicon Materials global technology group headed from Norway. Nevertheless, we will continue to improve our local technical service capabilities, including application technology for Chinese customers.
Refractories Window: The Chinese microsilica market is a chaotic market with unorderly competition. What is your opinion on price dumping in the market? To face low price competition, is Elkem prepared to lower the product quality? What are your suggestions and advice on market disciplines of microsilica market?
Mr. Dean Peng: In China most microsilica producers (maybe all) except Elkem has no technical teams to focus on microsilica quality and applications since microsilica is merely a by-product to them . Most Chinese microsilica producers do not control quality and stability, this is the reason why they sell a very low prices. There is obviously a high risk for customer to use such kind of products. Elkem will not reduce quality to compete with such suppliers. On the contrary, we will continue to improve our product quality and utilize our experience and technology to reduce both our own and our customers’ costs through value-added new products.
I believe our refractory customers will buy suitable, cost efficient products, not low price product, in the future. Because our competitors will strive to improve the quality of the silicon and ferro-silicon they produce, their microsilica quality will become even more unstable.
Refractories Window: Lastly, what is your vision for your microsilica products? What kind of new products will be launched in 2017?
Mr. Dean Peng: Elkem Silicon Materials China vision is to be the No. 1 choice for microsilica customers. We are not only selling microsilica and related products, but provide solutions to our customers. New products are continuously developed.
Refractories Window: We thank you for your time and do hope Elkem Silicon Materials China will have a prosperous future under your leadership.