Vinyl windows - one of the plastics industry's fastest-growing sectors, now has its own Plastics News ranking. Plastics News intends to make the window breakout chart a permanent part of its annual sales-based ranking of North American pipe, profile and tubing extruders. The chart covers window extrusion sales for 1994 only. Next year, it will show comparative data from 1994 and 1995.
Also, we decided initially not to provide the number of window extrusion plants. Why not? Because in what had been almost entirely an industry of single-plant players, several of the larger window profile extruders are adding second plants and becoming truly national manufacturers. Several had one plant in 1994, the year tracked, but now have two. We plan to add this data next year.
In fact, opening plants in new geographic regions appears to be the strongest trend in vinyl windows today. No. 2 player Mikron Industries Inc. of Kent, Wash., the largest western U.S. window extruder, began production at a 90,000-square-foot plant in Richmond, Ky., in March. German-owned Veka Holdings Inc. of Fombell, Pa., close behind in a tie for No. 3, began extruding windows in 1994 at Reno, Nev.
Finally, No. 7, Vinyl Building Products Inc. of Oakland, N.J., expects to begin production later this year in Little Rock, Ark.
Dayton Technologies, which tied with Veka for the No. 3 spot, has taken another approach. It is serving a nationwide market from a single, large, Midwestern plant, in Monroe, Ohio.
Mystery still surrounds North America's largest window extruder, Canada's Royal Plastics Group - even though the company is now publicly traded. In public financial documents, the Weston, Ontario-based extrusion giant did disclose its custom profile sales for 1994: $142 million. Plastics News and industry estimates peg Royal's window sales at about two-thirds of that amount, or $90 million.
Royal reportedly extrudes window profiles at a number of smaller plants in Canada and the United States.
Since their introduction in the early 1980s, the market for vinyl windows has exploded. This year, even though the general construction industry appears to be slowing, vinyl windows continue to outpace the overall window industry.
In remodeling, according to the American Architectural Manufacturing Association, vinyl will hold steady at 9.6 million units a year through 1997. Aluminum and wood will decline. Vinyl should equal wood in remodeling for the first time this year, said AAMA, based in Palatine, Ill.
The fastest vinyl growth will come in new construction, still a relatively small market for vinyl. AAMA predicts vinyl should grow by 7 or 8 percent a year through 1997, when one in four new-construction windows will have a vinyl frame.
Most of the firms listed in the Plastics News window chart extrude profiles and sell them to fabricators that turn the profiles into finished windows.
However, three of the companies listed - Weather Shield Manufacturing Inc. of Medford, Wis.; Milgard Vinyl Extrusion of Tacoma, Wash.; and Insulate Industries Inc. of Kent, Wash. - extrude profiles for their own internal use.
Weather Shield, the No. 8 window extruder, this year launched an aggressive campaign to sell its vinyl windows in remodeling, under the name RetroVision. The Wisconsin company takes orders and manufactures the windows in a single location, then ships them nationwide. A major wood window manufacturer, Weather Shield began extruding vinyl window profiles in 1992.
One more window extruder merits special mention, No. 14, North American Profiles Ltd. A new name in the window industry, North American Profiles was formed in October when Westlake Group of Houston, a Taiwanese-owned resin supplier, purchased the window and siding businesses of Canada's Sauder Industries Ltd. The deal includes Sauder's window extru-sion plant in Calgary, Alberta.
Westlake has grown in recent years, by buying other companies, to become a major force in PVC pipe extrusion. Will the same thing happen in vinyl windows? Watch this space. We'll do it again next year.