Plastic lumber makers are moving ahead with plans for an umbrella trade group that would encompass all parts of the industry, although it is not clear if there is enough demand for a new group.
The industry, under the auspices of the Plastic Lumber Trade Association, held a discussion Nov. 8 in Washington, trying to figure out if there is enough common ground between makers of all-plastic lumber and wood/plastic lumber to come together.
PLTA President Alan Robbins said he did not have any preconceived notions of how discussions should proceed. He sees any potential new group as a technically based organization that could present a common face to building-code bodies and promote the growing industry.
In the end, the roughly 30 companies and consulting groups that attended agreed to form a committee that will present specific proposals, possibly as early as December.
PLTA historically has represented only manufacturers of all-plastic lumber, and there has been divisiveness between different segments and different companies, Robbins said. Robbins also is president of Plastic Lumber Co. Inc. in Akron, Ohio.
Some executives who attended the meeting said they would welcome any group that could promote all types of plastic lumber as an alternative to wood and traditional building materials.
``If we can merge and show some sort of unity, it is going to help everybody in the long run,'' said Lonnie Vincent, vice president of N.E.W. Plastics Corp. in Luxemburg, Wis.
Others said they needed to consider the idea, but questioned whether the interests of both segments might be too divergent.
``At this point, it is more or less, [we'll] take it under advisement,'' said Brian Lowry, administrative project analyst for Tamko Roofing Products Inc. in Joplin, Mo., which owns wood/plastic lumber maker Epoch Composite Products Inc.
Robbins said he did not expect answers because many of the people attending the meeting did not have authority to decide for their companies.
A representative of CertainTeed Corp. in Valley Forge, Pa., for example, said he would need to take the idea back to his management.
Both the plastic and the wood/ plastic segments have separate standards at the American Society for Testing and Materials, and Robbins said both sides will continue talking about their differences, even if they cannot form an umbrella group. PLTA formed in 1993, and it played an active role in developing the standards for all-plastic lumber products.
A representative from the American Fence Association in Glen Ellyn, Ill., said any new group could join as a subsidiary of AFA, as a group of vinyl fence and deck makers recently did, and potentially save administrative costs.