“With the voice of Atongo early morning on your radio you are reassured that wherever you are water reaches you; even space.”
It’s been several years since the captivating radio commercial graced our airwaves. But there is more to the Interplast story. It dates back to 50 years ago when independent Ghana was just 13 years old.
Essence of Water
Water is life. Albeit cliché, it is true. It is used for domestic, commercial, health, industrial and many other purposes. The dedication of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) seek to give access to improved water and sanitation reinforces the global importance of water.
Although water moves freely on its own, it needs an efficient distribution system that can convey it from treatment plants to homes and other places and after use without losing any volume during the transportation process as well as carry it away as sewage water or waste.
This was what Interplast set out to do; to serve as the leg or wheels for the movement of water from one point to another.
The company was established in 1970 at Industrial Area in Accra in consultation with the then Ghana Water and Sewage Corporation (GWSC).
Its purpose was to provide high quality unplasticised Polyvinyl Chloride (uPVC) pipes and fittings for water supply in the country.
The Chairman of Interplast, Mr Saied Fakhry, recalls that although the rubber industry already existed in the country, there was no company manufacturing plastic pipes”. We were already in the rubber business so we decided to venture into the plastic pipes business and have since remained the largest and leading manufacturer of plastic pipe systems in Ghana and West Africa “, he said in an interview.
Initial Production Volume
With less than 50 workers, the company in its initial years manufactured about 20 tons of both small and large diameter PVC pipes monthly.
These were primarily used by the water company while the remaining were patronised by the local construction industry. The plastic pipes products gradually replaced majority of concrete steel, asbestos and copper pipes due to the superior quality it came with.
Currently, its model factory, located at Spintex, is equipped with advanced machinery with capacity to supply complete uPVC pipes and fittings at short notice for new projects, extension and replacements of existing lines.
With staff strength of over 700, the company now produces an average of 2,500 tons of both HDPE and UPVC pipes monthly for distribution in the country and 23 African countries including Togo, Burkina Faso, Benin and Angola.
It has also extended it product range to cover the bore-hole drilling, irrigation, telecommunications and electrical power distribution industries.
Interplast currently is the largest manufacturer of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) pipes in West Africa with its biggest diameters produced as Ø1, 200mm.
The HDPE pipes are suitable for thewater, gas, drainage and – sewage industries.
Through innovation Interplast introduced the Everlast brand which produces uPVC windows and doors and INGREEN for irrigation solution for lawns and farming which is the first to be manufactured in West Africa giving farmers the opportunity to farm all year round.
Standards and Quality Control
Meeting International standards has been a guiding principle in our entire production process. Routine testing of all pipes produced at the factory is carried out under the supervision of the Ghana Standards Board.
In January this year, the company completed a surveillance audit of its quality management system to retain its ISO 9001:2015 certification.
But the journey was not all rosy particularly in the area of marketing.
“People were not used to PVC pipes and even though the copper, steel, asbestos and concrete pipes being used had some challenges, marketing our plastic pipes was a challenge”, Mr Fakhry recounted.
But according to him, it was not long until the construction industry attested to the fact that Interplast product was durable and met the international standards within the local markets.
Aside the durability, he said Interplast pipes were affordable, easier to handle, install and transport.
While commending the government for creating enabling environment for businesses to thrive, he mentioned they needed to check importation of pipes as it was the company’s current challenge competing with substandard products.
“The government must protect Ghanaian owned companies.These local industries are the once creating job opportunities for the country and helping with developments; he said.
Awards and Corporate Social Responsibility
The exploits of Interplast has not gone unnoticed. Both the company and its chairman have received countless awards including Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Man Expatriate of the Year at the maiden Ghana Expatriate Business Awards 2017; Best Performer in Mine Supplies and Services as well as the Best Performer in Local Manufacturing at the 4th Ghana Mining Industry Awards (GMIA 2018); Platinum exporter of the year 4 times running 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and several other awards and acknowledgement.
The company has also given back to society in different ways in the form of cash or kind. For instance, every year, the company supports heart surgery for at least one child through the Children Heart Foundation, supports various sports in Ghana including the Ghana Rugby, provide educational aids to students and donates towards Ramadan celebration through the office of the vice president.
For Fakhry, there is more in the pipeline. “We plan to introduce more production lines while upholding the highest standards and quality. So continue doing business with us”, he said.
Indeed, water has been running on the wheel and legs of Interplast for the past five decades and it appears it is not going to stop now.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR