Chandler, Ariz., is about to become home to a maker of architectural wonders - even if they are only expanded polystyrene and urethane facades. Behind the facades is Treadway Industries Inc., which plans to relocate its Phoenix manufacturing operations in February to an industrial park at the Chandler Municipal Airport.
Peter Brake, president of Treadway Phoenix, said no decision has been made on what the front of the 25,000-square-foot building will look like, but it will reflect what the company does: manufacture architectural facades and movie sets from EPS foam.
Treadway currently operates out of cramped quarters in Phoenix, which it has occupied since coming to the Southwest three years ago to serve the Hollywood movie and theme park industries. Brake said the Chandler site affords Treadway more space, and ease of moving and shipping the large products it manufactures.
Treadway shapes its products from blocks of EPS foam, some as large as 21/2 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet, using high-tech shape-making software and computer numerically controlled hot-wire cutting machines developed by Treadway.
The shapes are sprayed with a polyurethane coating called Polygarde, for a hard shell. Wood or metal skeletons then are used to provide strength to some of the shapes. Final finishing and detail work is done by the artists and sculptors who make up the company's seven-person creative team.
``We combine modern, high technology with the talents of skilled, old-world artisans to achieve the various looks required,'' Brake said. ``We can create in just a few days what would take weeks or months in stone.''
Although the company began by producing architectural shapes used in construction, Treadway now is known for its theme park facades. Its EPS foam artistry can be seen in fronts made for parks nationwide, including the MGM Grand Hotel and Theme Park in Las Vegas, and the Disney/MGM Studios Theme Park in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Movie sets, such as the 1-mile long, fake subway-station front for the new movie Money Train, also represent a primary market for Treadway.
``They used the front for 60 days [during filming], then tore it down,'' said Brake, adding that the EPS foam is ground up and sold for use in potting soil and bean-bag furniture.
Other movie sets that have featured products made by Treadway include Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, and last year's remake of Miracle on 34th Street.
Other markets using the facades include theme environments for restaurants, visual merchandising and store fixtures, commercial and residential construction, and dimensional signage.
Brake said advantages of using the EPS foam instead of conventional materials such as precast concrete or molded fiberglass are ease of construction, quick production time (since it is not necessary to build molds first) and light weight.
The facade pieces are solid-backed and attach easily to existing buildings.
Treadway recently established affiliate companies outside the United States, and five overseas manufacturing franchises in the past two years.
The facilities include plants in Thailand, Belgium and in Seoul, South Korea, where it makes facades for the Yong-In Global Adventures Theme Park.
Treadway has a mobile production facility at that job site to facilitate projected completion in an unprecedented time frame.
Treadway's corporate headquarters and another plant are in Leesburg, Fla. The company also has a facility in Fairburn, Ga.