ABT SPENDING $16 MILLION ON VINYL PLANT

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ABT Building Products Corp. will invest about $16 million to add its second vinyl siding plant, the Neenah, Wis., firm announced Jan. 29.

ABT chose Holly Springs, Miss., for the facility because of growth in Southern sales, said Michael Lupo, chief financial officer. His firm will buy a 240,000-square-foot facility near Memphis, Tenn., and build a 100,000-square-foot addition.

Lupo did not break down the equipment cost or what ABT will pay for the building and 33 acres of land it will buy from the local development authority. Pete Tronquet, ABT's vice president of plastics, said Holly Springs will house eight high-output extrusion lines from Krauss-Maffei Corp. and is scheduled to begin production by the third quarter.

ABT will finance the new facility by issuing industrial development bonds approved by Mississippi's Department of Economic and Community Development.

Lupo said the new facility initially will more than double ABT's siding capacity, including capacity at its Acton, Ontario, plant, to more than 300 million square feet annually.

Within a year ABT should have annual capacity of 400 million square feet, he said. ABT already has expanded Acton's capacity and that facility should produce 200 million square feet of siding this year.

ABT entered vinyl siding in mid-1995 when it bought the Acton operation from Emco Ltd. of London, Ontario. Its other plastics businesses are extruded plastic moldings, which is based in Middlebury, Ind., and a window shutter injection molding operation in Hopkinsvlle, Ky., that it bought in 1995.

Plastics accounted for $108 million of ABT's 1996 sales, about one-third of the companywide total.

Plastics-related sales jumped by nearly 70 percent over 1995 because ABT received a full year's credit from the vinyl siding plant and the injection molding plant.

ABT reported $320.4 million in total 1996 sales, a 33 percent increase from $240.1 million in 1995. Net profit increased 40 percent, to $23.1 million in 1996, from $16.5 million. The fiscal year ends Dec. 31.

The company also announced it is on schedule to open in the second quarter a new a wood-fiber and cement siding plant at a cost of $55 million.

The company said the project will make ABT a one-source supplier for hardboard siding, fiber cement siding, vinyl siding, trim board, plastic shutters and other accessories.