Canadian bathware producer Maax Inc. plans to set up a Midwest production plant by the end of the year. ``We are planning a 40,000-square-foot plant,'' said Marie-France Poulin, Maax vice president of sales and marketing.
The firm, based in Ste. Marie de Beauce, Quebec, is studying three possible sites in or near Iowa, Illi-nois and Wisconsin and expects to make a decision by the end of July, Poulin said by telephone.
Maax will invest about C$1 million (US$735,000) in new equipment for a fiberglass line and an acrylic line for midpriced shower stalls and tubs and similar products. Poulin said Maax's Pearl Baths subsidiary in Minneapolis makes high-end acrylic bathware, but the plant has no extra space, and Maax does not want to mix midrange production there. Maax now supplies Midwest markets from its Quebec facilities.
Maax reported a 39 percent increase in sales to C$26.9 million (US$19.8 million) in its first quarter, ended May 31. Profit grew 92 percent to C$2.3 million (US$1.7 million).
President Placide Poulin cited recent acquisitions for the improvement in financial results. Last year it bought Hydro Swirl Manufacturing Corp. of Belling-ham, Wash., and Valley Fibrebath Inc. of Armstrong, British Columbia - boosting its number of manufacturing plants to nine. It claims to be one of the 10 largest producers of bathroom fixtures in North America.