TORONTO-Royal Plastics Group Ltd. is expanding its vinyl building products business to include residential hinged garage doors. The Toronto firm agreed to supply Overhead Door Corp. of Dallas with extruded vinyl door sections that Overhead will assemble and market in the United States beginning in early 1996.
Brian Bolton, Overhead's chairman and chief executive officer, said his firm hopes the advantages of vinyl will help it capture ``a very meaningful share'' of a billion-dollar annual U.S. market for hinged garage doors in new construction and renovation. Bolton, in a telephone interview, said vinyl sectional doors will be priced comparably to metal types, which account for more than 90 percent of U.S. residential garage doors. Wood also is used to make the doors.
Royal spokesman Mark Badger said his company has not decided on where it will extrude the door sections. Overhead will assemble the doors, using profiles and sheet extruded by Royal, at a dedicated U.S. Midwest location. The site has not been determined yet. Overhead Door, with 20 plants and facilities across the United States, is one of the leading players in the market.
Meanwhile, Royal is talking to potential distributors for the vinyl doors in Canada and Europe.
There have been plastic garage doors before. Great American Door Co. of Montgomery, Ill., has made a high density polyethylene door, with plastic panels connected to an aluminum frame, for about 20 years, said Ted Billman, vice president of sales. And several companies make vinyl-coated steel doors. He declined to comment about the Royal door.
One challenge with plastic garage doors always has been the varying degrees of expansion and contraction, brought on by temperature changes, between the plastic components and those of metal or aluminum, according to officials at several door makers. GADCO gets around that by using many smaller panels instead of a few, large ones.
Overhead Door's Bolton said various firms have ``dabbled'' in vinyl sectional doors but none has had the right combination of product, marketing and distribution to be successful.
``You need to do it in a comprehensive way'' to convince builders and renovators to use the vinyl doors, Bolton said. He said he believes Royal's extrusion expertise and Overhead's manufacturing and distribution clout will boost acceptance of vinyl doors.
Overhead Door, a private firm expecting sales of about $600 million this year, claims it founded the sectional garage door industry in the United States in 1921. Today, the firm makes much more than garage doors, producing doors and related hardware and control systems for trucks, public buildings and commercial and industrial uses.
Badger said Royal has applied for patents on the vinyl doors, which it developed over the past year in conjunction with Overhead. The firms claim the doors are strong, maintenance-free and weather-resistant. Bolton said the door design includes safety features to minimize risk of pinching when the sections move.
Royal announced the Overhead Door agreement on Oct. 27, four days after Vic De Zen, Royal's president, chairman and chief executive officer, received Canada's National Entrepreneur of the Year Award. De Zen was one of 10 business people given the 1995 award sponsored by management consulting firm Ernst & Young Inc. of Toronto and other companies.
De Zen's company, a major in vinyl siding, profiles, window blinds and pipe, developed and is marketing vinyl housing systems, and has a joint venture with Rubbermaid Inc. to make and sell vinyl outdoor storage buildings.
Royal's stock closed down C$0.25 (US$0.18) on Oct. 31 to C$17.13 (US$12.50).
Staff reporter Bill Bregar contributed to this story.