UC Industries Inc. has stepped up production of its Foamular extruded polystyrene insulation. The company streamlined manufacturing at its Tallmadge, Ohio, plant, boosting overall Foamular production capacity by 15 percent, according to spokesman John Calton.
Also, adjacent to that plant, UCI has broken ground on a technical center that will supplant its old one, located nearby. Calton would not disclose details about UCI's new center, except to say it will be 25,000 square feet, twice the size of the existing, leased setup that houses engineering, research and development and international licensing for its Hydrovac process.
The company operates a second plant, in Rockford, Ill., where it also makes the pink Foamular insulation board. A distribution center in Tacoma, Wash., serves the Northwest market for the product. UCI is based in Parsippany, N.J. It employs about 250, Calton said.
Since May 1994 the firm has been part of Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp.'s Specialty & Foam Products Division, which also makes windows and patio doors, among other items. In that time, Owens-Corning's brand name, along with its retail/distribution network, has boosted UCI's business, Calton said. He would not say by how much. In 1993, UCI's sales were about $60 million.
UCI is the second-largest producer of extruded PS foam insulation, behind Dow Chemical Co. of Midland, Mich., which makes blue, Styrofoam-brand insulation.
Hydrovac is the key to Foamular's commercial success, according to Calton.
``A lot of art is involved in the way we make this,'' he said.
The process works by extruding polystyrene into a water-sealed vacuum tunnel, where the product's density is determined. Varying the degree of vacuum in the tunnel creates a range of densities, or compressive strengths.
Debottlenecking the Tallmadge plant is the first phase of a larger plan to build Foamular production rates. Although UCI's technology investment is ongoing, Calton said the firm has made ``quantum leaps'' in working out kinks in the system, pushing capacity to its highest point yet and bringing down costs, according to UCI's second-quarter results. The company constantly is striving to beat its previous month's record in both production and sales.
``Next year this will probably look puny,'' he added.
But he acknowledged the inherent limitations of ``tweaking'' manufacturing to expand capacity. With Owens-Corning's name, reputation, channels of distribution and the Pink Panther peddling its pink wares, UCI anticipates ``substantial growth'' in Foamular's market, Calton said. Within the next few years the company plans to add plants to meet market demand for the year 2000, and already is shopping for sites, he said.
``Obviously you can't sell what you don't have,'' he said.
UCI markets Foamular primarily through distributors supplying the construction industry and, through Owens-Corning, which sells it along with its Fiberglas insulation to retail chains, such as Home Depot Inc. and Builders Square.