DELMARK TO PUSH FRP WINDOWS

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Ralph Delman, who founded a major PVC window fabrication company, Great Lakes Windows Inc., has joined with Canada's Omniglass Ltd. to market pultruded fiber-reinforced plastic windows in the United States.

The new firm, called Delmark Inc., initially will help window fabricators design and develop composite windows using profiles pultruded by Omniglass in Winnipeg, Manitoba. But Delman said longer-term plans call for building a U.S. pultrusion plant owned by Delmark and Omniglass.

There is no specific timetable to build the plant, which would be developed when Omniglass' production reaches a certain, higher percent of its capacity, Delman said. Delmark is based in Boca Raton, Fla.

Delman thinks FRP windows can return the ``mystery'' to the business by giving window fabricators something unique to sell that homeowners cannot find at the local do-it-yourself superstore.

``Pultruded fiberglass has the potential to be the shining star of the window and door industry in the late '90s and beyond, just as PVC was in the '80s and early '90s,'' he said.

Although pultruded components used in windows have been around for years, windows with full pultruded frames still have not captured a significant share of the U.S. window market, in part because of their relatively high cost. Delman wants to change that, pointing out their ``outstanding properties.''

He also thinks pultruded windows can help fabricators compete in an era when a homeowner can walk into a do-it-yourself retailer and buy vinyl windows, installed, at a bargain price.

That was not the case when Delman founded Great Lakes Window in Toledo, Ohio, in 1980. The fabricator's main customers were home-improvement contractors who visited consumers at home to explain the advantages of vinyl. He later sold Great Lakes to building products maker Ply Gem Industries Inc. of New York.

Today, he said, DIY stores and lumber yards carry vinyl windows.

``Now we have to say to ourselves, how can we put the mystery back'' into window sales, he said. ``The consumer can't go to Home Depot, at least not in '97, and buy a fiberglass window.''

Under the agreement, announced in December, Delmark will purchase pultruded profiles from Omniglass. Delman said his company will offer a complete system to window and door fabricators, helping them design profiles, do plant layout and select assembly equipment, and create marketing materials.

Omniglass is one of the strongest proponents of composites in construction, especially windows and doors. The firm already pultrudes components for several window and door manufacturers.