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The Chevalier Group
Digging up Hong Kong's roads to replace ageing pipes could be a thing of the past if Oscar Chow gets his way. Since 1998, he has been promoting cutting-edge, "no-dig" pipe rehabilitation technologies, which in effect doubles the lifespan of underground pipes.

The technology, as the name suggests, can be used to repair gas and water pipelines, as well as drainage and sewer pipes, without the need to dig up the streets. Europe has been using pipe rehabilitation since the 1980s, but it has only recently been deployed in Hong Kong.

"Since 1998, we've done some trial jobs and minor repair work for the Drainage Services Department, as well as some private jobs and some work at the airport," says Mr Chow, Managing Director of The Chevalier Group, which imported the technology into Hong Kong. "The technology is perfectly suited for high density, busy urban areas like Hong Kong, because it minimises disruption and also shortens the length of time required to complete the jobs. Another advantage is that it is also cheaper than traditional methods."

Although the list of completed projects in Hong Kong is still not long, he has continued to invest in the technologies by buying controlling stakes in NordiTube Technologies and Rib Loc Group, which developed the technologies. "These two companies own the technology, so by acquiring majority interests in them, we have been able to expand globally," he said.

To date, the company has provided technology licenses and materials to its partners in the U.S., Europe, Australia, the Middle East, India and most recently Japan, Mr Chow said. The technology works by installing a new layer inside existing pipes, which can be either steel-reinforced plastic or a resin layer that cures to become as hard as the original pipe, using purpose-built equipment.

Pipe rehabilitation is just one of the new directions that The Chevalier Group is heading in as it expands globally. Founded in 1970 by Dr Chow Yei-Ching, the company now runs over 200 subsidiaries worldwide. The group's core business has traditionally been lifts and escalators, and it is the sole agent for Toshiba lifts and escalators in Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore. It also excels in curtain walls, aluminium windows and exterior aluminium features for modern high rises, as well as civil and environmental engineering services, to name but a few of its diverse businesses.

As cities become more crowded, and their inhabitants less tolerant to disruptions, Mr Chow said he expects trenchless pipe repair work to become not just an option for utility operators to choose from, but a necessity. Even in China, where Mr Chow is starting to introduce the technology, the rapid development of cities there is creating a need for pipe rehabilitation services that will cause minimum disruption to already congested streets.

"We believe that 'no-dig' pipe rehabilitation will become a new trend for the repair of underground piping networks in the future," he said. "There are tens of thousands of kilometres of pipes in every developed city that at some time or another will need to be repaired. As such we anticipate significant growth for this business."

Company: Chevalier International Holdings Ltd
Established: 1970
Business: Services, manufacturing, investment and trading
Year joined HKGCC: 1989
Web site: www.chevalier.com
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