To meet international demand for wood-plastic panels, Rely Diego is establishing joint ventures in Canada, Asia, and Costa Rica.
The businessman, who came from the wood industry, now is involved in four joint ventures and has an agreement pending in Costa Rica.
Joint venture JER Manufacturing B.C. Ltd. recently began operating in Delta, British Columbia, in a 25,000-square-foot facility.
The site is equipped with two extrusion lines and has compounding capacity of 1,500 pounds per hour, Diego said in a recent telephone interview. The firm uses pine and virgin or scrap polypropylene to extrude wallboards used in home construction for interior partitions or exterior walls; substrate for countertops or flooring; and decking applications.
JER Envirotech Ltd., the operating arm of publicly held JER Envirotech International Corp., and PGCO Investments Ltd., a private investment firm in Surrey, British Columbia, teamed up for the Canadian venture. JER worked with the National Research Council of Canada, Diego said. In 2003, JER signed an exclusive worldwide license to commercialize the formulations with NRC.
JER Envirotech, meanwhile, is tackling the Asian market, where demand for panel boards is far greater than production capacity, Diego said in his Oct. 11 address to the Wood-Plastic Composites Conference in Baltimore, put on by consulting firm Principia Partners of Exton, Pa.
``We try to focus research so that it could address deficiencies of plywood,'' Diego said. ``If you put any natural wood on the ground in Asia, three months later [it will have] ... termite infestation even if it was treated. If you go to Asia now, plywood is a diminishing product.''
Diego said plywood faces problems, including de-laminating in Asia's extreme climates. Asian countries also face increased regulations in logging and forests that cannot keep pace with an escalating population.
In the Philippines, JER will set up two joint ventures: one to handle compounding, the other focused on extrusion. Its compounding formulation also can be used in injection molding.
JER Envirotech International went public in September. The company trades on the TSX Venture Exchange. Diego said JER Manufacturing B.C. also will serve the automotive market.