Holcim US Launches Cement-Online

U.S. division of global cement company debuts customer portal for N. America

Orlando, FL — March 5, 2004 — Holcim US, the largest cement and concrete providers in North America, has launched Cement-Online, which it is touting as the industry's first complete e-business portal.

Headquartered in Waltham, Mass., Holcim (US) Inc. is one of the largest cement manufacturers in the United States, with 14 manufacturing facilities and more than 70 distribution terminals. The company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Holcim Ltd., of Switzerland, one of the largest cement companies in the world.

Until now, the construction industry has been slow to adopt new Web-based technologies. Holcim believes that labor-intensive logistics management can no longer meet customers' expectations. In 2003, it partnered with enterprise Web portal developer iSTARK to design an e-business strategy that meets the specific needs of the construction community.

Cement-Online is a Web portal designed specifically for the cement community to streamline Holcim's various business processes for its customers.

Holcim customers can now order and track delivery online. Orders will be processed electronically and customers will be notified automatically. Customers' order history is also available in the portal for easy references.

Paper-based administration is also replaced by electronic data management. For example, Holcim customers with authorized access can review, track and process critical account information such as bills of lading, invoices and account history. Support from Holcim staff remains a key part of the company's service offering, and customers can communicate with the appropriate account person through e-mail for assistance.

Finally, Holcim customers can choose important information such as weather reports, forecasts and industry news delivered directly to their personalized Cement-Online homepage. Holcim asserts that such information provides the necessary business intelligence to help users determine orders, delivery schedules and other logistics concerns.

"Customer satisfaction is Holcim's top priority," said Bill Townsend, deputy CEO of Holcim (US) Inc., in a company statement. "Our new free Web services demonstrate our commitment to our customers and our leadership in guiding the construction industry to leverage e-business technologies strategically."

In the first twelve months of the pilot testing with iSTARK, Holcim attracted more than 2,000 users across America, representing approximately 58 percent of its revenues. The company anticipates the number of customers using Cement-Online to increase this year and is expecting to use the portal to drive its sales completely by the end of the year.

iSTARK plans to introduce new features and functionalities to the portal, such as wireless applications and GPS truck tracking.

"iSTARK has the unique combination of e-business expertise and construction industry experience," said Dave Codack, president and CEO of iSTARK Corp. "We understand what cement customers need and can provide the relevant e-business tools."

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