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School leaver makes the grade with concrete

After finishing secondary school, many students hope to further their education at a reputable institution such as the National University of Laos. But that’s just not possible for all of them because they may not be able to afford it or cannot get a place.
Many students have to wait a while and make plans to earn some money or help their family with work on the farm before going to college or university.
Mr Thanouthong Alounladet, 42, who owns a concrete construction company in Nongphaya village, Xaythany district, says it was never his dream job but destiny led him to become a construction worker after he finished secondary school.
Mr Thanouthong is the youngest son in his family and didn’t want to be a burden by asking for support to continue his education, so he asked if he could be a construction worker with his sister’s company.

Mr Thanouthong Alounladet.. 

After a few years of work, he saved up some money that he wanted to use to continue his education. But the fees were high and somehow he never had enough to pay his way through university.
He still felt that tertiary education was important for his future but realised that things were difficult, so he decided to use the skills he had acquired to set up his own concrete business.
Normally entering a business venture of any kind is an expensive undertaking, but Mr Thanouthong didn’t have any problems because he started out small and did everything himself along with his wife.
To start with he could only make two concrete posts a day and had to borrow his sister’s car when a customer placed an order.
But after a while, production grew as he received more orders and he tried his hand at making different kinds of concrete construction materials, such as blocks, pipes, and posts.
Mr Thanouthong said it was easy to find workers but most of them only stayed for a few months and then moved on. These days labourers have more choice about where they work and go somewhere else if they think they can earn more money or the conditions are better.
To make concrete blocks, Mr Thanouthong pays 40,000 kip for one bag of cement which yields 130 blocks.
In the dry months he sells a large number of concrete blocks and sometimes his staff cannot make enough to fill customers’ orders, so Mr Thanouthong has to lend a hand. But in the rainy season work tails off because people call a halt to construction at this time.
Mr Thanouthong always finds for work for his staff so that they have enough money to tide them over. He doesn’t pay them a salary but pays them according to how much they produce. Although orders drop off in the rainy season he gets his workers to make items that they stockpile for use in the dry months, so they keep on making posts and pipes that they can sell later on.
Mr Thanouthong has now been making concrete construction materials for more than 12 years and has opened a new outlet in Xokyai village, Xaysettha district, where he employs five people.
Although he started on a very small scale, his hard work has brought him success. He has now branched out into other areas and has some trucks that can be used to transport stones and sand, as well as an excavator.
He buys sand and gravel which he stores at his workplace and then sells it later on for a higher price, which demonstrates his entrepreneurial talents.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update May 6, 2017)

 

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