Burial vaults may be an unusual application for plastics, but Vantage Products Corp. has built its business on them.
In a facility in Covington, Ga., the structural foam injection molder produces funeral products like vaults, lawn crypts and memorial bases. Officials keep track of statistics like this one: There are nearly 1 million burial vaults sold in the United States annually.
``We have the capacity to produce one-third of that entire market,'' Michael Brennan, vice president of sales and marketing, said in an April 10 telephone interview.
Still, diversification is necessary, even in the funeral industry.
The firm, a subsidiary of Rowan Technologies Inc. of Rancocas, N.J., now is targeting growth in its custom division and internationally. It has regrouped operations under one 102,000-square-foot complex in Covington, where officials have the space to add up to three more 2,500-ton Uniloy Milacron machines.
Currently, the firm cranks out products on two machines using the gas-assist web process with about 40 employees. Custom work now represents about 25 percent of total sales. Officials won't disclose exact sales, but provided a range between $12 million and $20 million.
``The performance in the funeral product division is excellent,'' said Mike Lacy, Vantage's chief engineer and custom molding manager. ``We are diversifying because we have the capability and responsibility to do so.''
The 25-year old business operated out of two facilities within eight miles of each other until last year, when it sold off its building products division to Tapco International Corp., based in Plymouth, Mich.
The other facility, in Conyers, Ga., had smaller presses that naturally fit with the building products work, Lacy said in an April 11 telephone interview.
Vantage traditionally has used polystyrene, polyethylene or polypropylene as raw materials.
``It's obvious that a lot of structural foam molders are moving more and more into engineering materials,'' Lacy said. ``I anticipate that as we move into custom molding, we will do the same.''