Lafarge supplied a few contractors of Shivajinagar ready-mix concrete to construct several houses. One problem encountered was to manoeuvre supply trucks within Shivajinagar, whose streets are too constricted for two-lane traffic. Like good entrepreneurs committed to developing a prospective market, Lafarge thought laterally. They devised a means of supplying concrete in plastic buckets. Buckets of 15 litres each were neatly stacked in the modest back-space of a tempo and brought to site, traversing the narrow alleys without obstruction. The buckets were unloaded by hand by the contractor’s team, upturned into plinths and formwork and returned to the tempos that departed instantly. The speed of this process was as astonishing as its efficiency; high technology and world-class quality hand in hand with labour intensive building methods. By working with contractors who build affordable homes in areas of the city hardest to reach, an international cement company may just have changed the paradigm of the construction industry in Mumbai.
This unusual collaboration has benefited the contractors of Shivajinagar. With quality assured and concrete available in retail quantities, the ease of supply and of actual use can transform site work. The cost of ready-mix is currently more than that of hand-mixed concrete on site, but the time (and space) saved more than adequately makes up for it. Their clients get a home built with the best of concrete, long-lasting and pucca to the core. There is now an increasing demand among several contractors from other neighbourhoods.
Lafarge now has gained access to vast potential retail market in addition to upper-end builder and contractors. That they were willing to go beyond a comfort base and adapt to changing work circumstances and clients is to their credit. This may be strictly business, but is one with a potential for transformation. Supplying concrete to build small homes in Shivajinagar may become as profitable as supplying concrete to build that other large home in Mumbai, Antilla.