|Many of you may be familiar with the Siam Cement elephant logo given their recycled cement bag products offered by The Elephant Story. The author personally witnessed fifty years of the company’s one-hundred-year history beginning in the late sixties in Bangkok. On the other hand, associates of the author at the time would have said the likelihood of reaching that milestone was remote and I must admit early close calls would have favored that view.
The company is the largest and oldest cement and building material company in Thailand and Southeast Asia. It is ranked as the second largest company in Thailand and in the top 600 largest public companies in the world. The company’s major shareholder is the Crown Property Bureau, which owns 30 percent of Siam Cement’s shares. It was formed in 1913 by King Rama VI--Vajiravudh who is shown below.
As King Rama VI never married, he had no heirs and is recognized for founding Siam Cement as well as the Boy Scouts of Thailand.
The economy of Thailand began to soar at the outset of the Vietnam War in the late sixties. It was a favorite location for millions of U.S. soldiers seeking two weeks of solace from death and destruction over the course of the war. Moreover, the Thai Government reaped vast financial support for their military and logistical support to the U.S. war effort. Therefore, when the author first came to Bangkok, the skyline looked much like the image shown below.
In stark contrast is that of the skyline today.
One does not have to be a rocket scientist to grasp the impact that growth has had on the cement and related product industry.
During the history of Siam Cement, the Thai monarchy has been closely related to the company. Shown below is Rama IX--Bhumibol Adulyadej to the left with his family and the newly-crowned King Rama X--Maha Vajiralongkorn to the right as young boy.
Rama IX served as the deeply revered King of Thailand from 1946 - 2016. At the time of his death, he was the longest reigning monarch in the world. He established very close ties to the United States and is shown below speaking to Congress at the height of the Vietnam War with President Richard Nixon seated in the background.
Recently, King Rama X became the 15th largest shareholder in Siam Cement with a personal investment of some $140 million to further strengthen the position of the Crown Property Bureau of the monarchy as well as his own personal identity with the company.
At this juncture, Siam Group President and CEO Roongrote Rangsiyopash has stated that the company’s forward plans are to expand beyond the Southeast Asian region to look for investment opportunities in South China and India.
Those of us who have a deep affection for Thailand hope that future cement growth can be directed to those countries such that some of the remaining green and tranquility of Thailand might survive for future generations to come.