MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO — CPI Plastics Group Ltd. is poised for growth in the world market, according to President Peter Clark.
The company, 36th in Plastics News' June ranking of North American pipe, profile and tubing extruders, with annual related sales of US$67 million, started as Crila Plastics Inc. in 1972, producing aftermarket products for the automotive industry.
Clark acquired the company in 1989, and CPI since has carved a niche for itself by producing decorative extrusions for the appliance and furniture industries and engineering thermoplastic substitutions for other materials, such as aluminum, chrome and wood.
Six months ago, CPI opened a 50,000-square-foot plant to produce its newest product, Extrudawood — a polystyrene foam-based substitute for wood. It licensed that technology from English inventor Geoff House of Merstone on the Isle of Wight, England.
Taking House's technology further by creating new formulations, CPI is engineering extrusions to imitate the look of finished oak, mahogany, birch and even teak, as well as painted wood surfaces, all at a fraction of the cost of the real thing, according to Robert Ferguson, manager of the Extrudawood plant.
Since July, Ferguson estimates sales of Extrudawood at between $4 million and $5 million. He said he expects that amount to more than double in 1999.
Produced on 15 Davis-Standard extruding lines, Ferguson expects Extrudawood will go beyond the construction and home-improvement markets to be used as a viable replacement for wood ``wherever wood is being used, except as a structural product'' he said.
Primarily, Extrudawood has not been tested for use in structural applications, such as floor joists. Beyond that, in North America even Extrudawood is not a cost-effective replacement for the grade of wood used for those applications, he said.
On the other hand, Ferguson said, Extrudawood could be a viable replacement for structural wood in hot, tropical climates because it resists damage from moisture and termites.
Already Ferguson said there is a significant market for the product in China, where ``there is a tremendous use of hardwood floors,'' but where damage from the elements and from infestation can ruin wood.
To take Extrudawood global, CPI is offering licensing agreements to U.S. and European countries, including France, where CPI is in negotiations with an undisclosed large company.
Clark said CPI also plans to continue a ``very aggressive'' acquisition campaign.
``We feel that in the '90s, to remain competitive in the global marketplace, you have to be part of a larger whole,'' he said. ``We've decided that we will be an acquirer rather than be acquired.''
In the meantime, CPI is closing its 40,000-square-foot Bolton, Ontario, plant and moving its operations to a 95,000-square-foot plant being leased near its Mississauga headquarters and the company's three other plants.
Plans include centralizing CPI's tooling shops, now located in each plant, in the new building.