ThermoView Industries Inc., one of the nation's largest vinyl window fabricators and distributors, is preparing to shift from vinyl to composite ABS. The Louisville, Ky., company also is rebranding to beef up its national presence.
The company announced the name change Nov. 21, part of a goal to become the largest U.S. window fabricator. ThermoView wants to reach $200 million in sales in five years and have sales operations in 30 states.
The publicly held firm will be known as ``THV: America's Home Improvement Co.'' The new name will be phased in gradually, officials said.
ThermoView opened a new sales office in Phoenix in October. Officials plan to open offices in Nebraska and South Carolina next year.
As for the materials shift, officials discussed the change during the firm's third-quarter conference call Oct. 31.
``By the end of next year, virtually all of our windows will be made of composite materials for all of our markets,'' said Chief Executive Officer Charles Smith. ``Composite thermoplastics have the potential to revolutionize the window industry.''
Up until now, ThermoView's windows have been manufactured primarily from vinyl. The company realized the benefits of composites through its relationship with Complast Inc., a firm formerly based in Minneapolis. ThermoView acquired the assets of Complast last year through a joint venture with Royal Group Technologies Ltd., based in Woodbridge, Ontario.
Royal now makes the composite profiles at its Winnipeg, Manitoba, plant.
``Our intention is for our retailers to be exclusively composite,'' said Jim TerBeest, ThermoView's chief financial officer.
Some of the independent fabricators whose windows ThermoView distributes may continue to manufacture vinyl windows, TerBeest said.
Complast will pick up business as a result of the decision. The venture will supply all of ThermoView's profiles, as well as profiles to independent fabricators such as Winchester Industries Inc. of Pittsburgh and Great Lakes Windows Inc., based in Toledo, Ohio, which supply ThermoView.
ThermoView officials emphasized that they have not experienced performance problems with vinyl windows. But they touted the durability of composite profiles at a recent sales presentation, where officials dropped a piece of vinyl into boiling water, doing the same with a composite ABS extrusion, and the vinyl sample curled.
``I just see this as a better alternative,'' TerBeest said in a Nov. 13 telephone interview. ``This composite material is just a better weather-resistant material and far more durable than vinyl.''
TerBeest said there is not a major cost difference between the composite window vs. vinyl. The firm purchases its ABS from GE Plastics of Pittsfield, Mass.
``We looked at the ultimate cost of the windows one way or another, and it was just a minor difference,'' TerBeest said. ``We went through all that. That is not a major concern.''
As for its rebranding plan, the firm went public in 1998, acquiring or merging with 11 companies that year. But each subsidiary is under a different name: for instance, Primax Window Co., in Louisville; NuView Industries Inc., in St. Louis; Thermal Line Windows LLP and Leingang Century Siding and Windows Inc., in Mandan, N.D.
``We're working to boost national visibility and consolidate operations on a national level, going forward,'' Smith said. The change will provide greater advertising and marketing efficiencies, allowing the firm to make better use of a $4 million advertising budget, he said.