Veka Inc. is expansion-minded, intent on gaining share in the North American window market.
The Fombell, Pa.-based profile extruder is investing nearly $6 million to double capacity at its Veka West operation in Reno, Nev.
Veka is completing work on the 55,800-square-foot expansion and will bring in 17 extrusion lines, President Walter Stucky said in a Nov. 6 telephone interview.
``The first lines will be installed before Christmas,'' Stucky said. ``The rest will be phased in gradually.''
Veka is purchasing Milacron machinery, and the plant will have more than 30 lines. The plant now employs about 80 and will have a total of 247,000 square feet under roof. Officials expect the unit to see sales growth of nearly 20 percent in 2003.
The expansion at Reno is the second in 18 months; last year the firm added 55,000 square feet of warehouse space. Officials said the project will prepare Veka to enter 2003 with more advanced technology and the ability to keep up with rising demand from coast to coast.
Separately, Veka is preparing the former Berlinex Inc. facility in Edmonton, Alberta, for expansion. Veka acquired the business in July.
``We're doing major upgrades there in order to prepare the plant for expansion with additional extrusion lines,'' Stucky said. Infrastructure improvements now under way include upgrading the electrical supply and cooling water systems.
``The transition is going wonderfully,'' Stucky said of the acquisition. ``We are cruising along just fine and have seen a significant increase in sales since we took it over.''
The 70,000-square-foot facility has seven extrusion lines. In the most recent Plastics News ranking, Berlinex reported $8 million in extrusion sales with 40 employees. The firm was owned by Epwin Group plc in Cheltenham, England.
``They were unsure where to take the company, so they didn't do anything for awhile,'' Stucky said. ``I think with Veka, of course, that dramatically changed. We're going to be successful in that part of the world.
``We always intended to create some type of presence [in western Canada]. We saw a good opportunity with Berlinex.''
Stucky has been president for one year since replacing Larry Irwin, who now is vice chairman of Veka Holding Inc. The firm is owned by Veka AG, based in Sendenhorst, Germany.
Veka has had some roadblocks. Its largest customer, Simonton Windows in Parkersburg, W.Va., began extruding about two years ago, taking away a significant portion of Veka's business.
``Simonton pulled out a significant portion of business, but kept a significant portion with Veka,'' Stucky said. ``We were more than able to compensate for the loss.''
Stucky would not disclose how much business Simonton had with Veka. He said Veka's facility in Fombell has posted sales growth of about 30 percent despite Simonton's decision.
Veka is looking at many alternatives for further expansion.
The firm has sales and distribution in Monterrey, Mexico, a joint venture in Chile, and its own tool and die shop in Fombell.
Veka reported 2001 sales of $120 million and anticipates sales growth of 20 percent this year.