Plastic lumber experienced tough times in 2001, but two Oklahoma companies have big plans in the market: an initial public offering within 90 days, followed by a chain of plastic lumber-making franchises throughout the United States.
Inland Island International Inc. and Fibr-Plast Corp., both based in Tulsa, Okla., recently formed TJS Plastics Inc. to handle the franchising plan.
``The franchises are tailored to municipalities that are having problems with their solid-waste stream,'' said Sam Slavens, president of Inland and TJS. ``We survey the municipality, determine what their markets are, where they can get their feedstock and how and where to sell the product.''
The company plans to open one plant per year after its first year of operation, and the firm claims it already has a letter of intent from a Brazilian firm interested in a joint venture.
``We're looking at several locations now in the southeastern U.S.,'' Slavens said.
Fibr-Plast, established in 1998, is planning the IPO.
``We're looking to expand, and it will assist Fibr-Plast in the public end of its business,'' Slavens said in a Jan. 10 telephone interview.
Fibr-Plast first filed for the IPO in 1999 but the plan was delayed until now because the company was lining up individual investors who wanted to purchase a large portion of the stock, said Joe Francella, executive vice president of Fibr-Plast.
According to a company prospectus, Fibr-Plast generated no sales for the nine-month period ended March 31, and a loss of $323,022. The company anticipates raising $9.9 million through the IPO, which it will use to open additional plants, according to the prospectus, dated July 13.
TJS, the joint venture, began production with 17 employees, but will grow to more than 25 by the end of the month, officials said Jan. 21. The venture set up shop in a 12,000-square-foot facility in Tulsa, equipped with five extruders.
``The demand on our product requires us to increase production by 600 percent within the first half of this year,'' Slavens said. ``The economic downturn is not affecting us much, and that's primarily due to the unique type of product we produce. Basically, we have the ability to extrude any shape that our end user requires. We're flexible. We're not just limiting ourselves to dimensional lumber.''
The firm also will produce lumber pallets, speed bumps and other shapes for applications including fencing.
TJS also is involved in ``Up With Trees,'' a tree-planting project in Tulsa. TJS donated product used to make signs, officials said.
Plastic lumber had a skittish 2001, as U.S. Plastic Lumber Corp. shut excess capacity and Trex Co. Inc. canceled plans for a third facility. TJS officials remain confident that their product is unique and will be profitable. They expect $2.5 million in first-year sales.
``We have no reservations,'' Francella said. ``We have done our research.''
Plastic Lumber Trade Association President Alan Robbins said starting out with five extruders is aggressive. He added that the current market for unknown or unproven companies seeking to become publicly traded is very difficult.