CUYAHOGA FALLS, OHIO — Alside Inc. is working on making its 51st year in business a memorable one.
The PVC building products manufacturer and distributor hopes to build a plant, market a host of new products and make the transition back to public ownership all in a single year.
The company plans to break ground on a new vinyl siding plant in Texas ``within the next 30-60 days,'' Alside President Donald L. Kaufman said in a June 8 interview at the company's Cuyahoga Falls headquarters.
Alside first revealed plans for a new plant for Freeport, Texas, in April, but an unspecified ``obstacle'' at the announced site may force Alside to move to another site nearby, Kaufman said.
No matter what, Kaufman is confident a new plant will be built, boosting his firm's siding capacity by close to 40 percent when all phases are complete.
Another 10 percent capacity increase at Alside's current Ennis, Texas, siding plant will have the ability to produce more than 3.5 million squares of siding annually, Kaufman said.
The new 120,000-square-foot plant will cost about $12 million and create 100 jobs wherever it is built, according to an Alside news release.
Kaufman said his company spends about $1 million per year in research and development.
Some of that innovation is evident in two product lines.
Alside's Charter Oak line, introduced in 1996, includes a reinforcement strip designed to keep the siding flat against the wall surface.
An even newer line is called CenterLock. It is designed so that adjacent lengths of siding actually lock together in the middle instead of just at the top. In addition to keeping the panels from bowing away from each other, the special profile design adds rigidity and gives a look more akin to individual planks of wood than traditional vinyl siding.
Alside also is marketing new decking and garage door products it extrudes in West Salem, Ohio.
Kaufman said the vinyl siding industry should do more than manufacture the cheapest possible product.
``The gap between competing building materials and vinyl is so great we can give much more value to the customer and still be competitive,'' he said. ``We can afford to move way up in quality and still beat competitive products.''
When compared to the price of a brand-new home, the cost difference between the best and worst vinyl siding is practically immaterial, Kaufman said.
``It's bad for the entire plastics industry'' when plastic products go the commodity route, he said.
Meanwhile, Alside's parent company, Associated Materials Inc., went public this year. Alside by far is the biggest division of Associated Materials, a Dallas company formed when William W. Winspear bought Alside and two other firms from U.S. Steel in 1984. Alside traded publicly before U.S. Steel bought the company in 1968.
Using the symbol SIDE on the Nasdaq exchange, the stock began trading in March at about $16.50 per share. That quickly rose to more than $20 before dropping to a low of $14.50 June 9.