In a place where dreams are both made and broken with dice rolling and lever pulling, convention-goers didn't need the help of Lady Luck or Vegas oddsmakers to recognize a good bet when they saw one.
The fencing industry is growing by 4 percent a year. And the use of plastic materials, predominantly vinyl, in fencing applications is growing by nearly 10 percent a year - mostly at the expense of wood.
Consumers have more disposable income and less time, own homes that are getting older, and desire maintenance-free products as they age.
It all adds up to a future for vinyl as bright as the flashing marquees on the Vegas Strip.
Vinyl makes up about 35-40 percent of the fence market, which is expected to swell to $6.6 billion by 2009.
U.S. families are spending nearly 30 percent of their home-improvement dollars on vinyl, up from about 8 percent in 1990, according to Denny Yoder, president of Milford, Ind.-based Royal Crown Ltd. - a subsidiary of Royal Group Technologies Ltd. of Woodbridge, Ontario.
Yoder spoke during the educational seminars of the Glen Ellyn, Ill.-based American Fence Association's annual trade show, Fencetech, held Feb. 1-3 in Las Vegas.
Vinyl fence, deck and railing products will benefit from the inevitability of home remodeling, Yoder said.
In 1995, about 20 percent of U.S. housing stock was between 36 and 55 years old. In 2010, nearly 30 percent of the housing market will be more than 56 years old, industry officials estimate.
``Remodeling is inevitable,'' Yoder said, adding that the American Housing Survey, conducted by Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., suggests that half of all home improvements will include an upgrade to the home's fence, deck and railings systems.
``I tell you what - that's an exciting market,'' he said.
Vinyl fencing, once just a footnote at Fencetech, is now a proven heavyweight.
``Vinyl's taking over,'' said one wrought-iron fencing installer.
``There's a bunch of plastic in there,'' said another show-goer.
``Clearly, the vinyl manufacturers are a significant portion of the exhibitors at the Fencetech show,'' said Lee Crumbaugh, AFA executive director. ``That reflects the growth in vinyl fencing material as well as a move into decking and railing as a primary type of product being exhibited.''
Thomas Luby, president and chief executive officer of Hollywood, Fla.-based Profit Builders International Inc., said the industry is still in the beginning of the growth curve for vinyl fence, deck and railing - an industry that will surge in the next five to 10 years.
The proliferation of color, including some wood look-alike and variegated panels, will spur vinyl's growth, officials say.
Among the growing companies are Birmingham, Ala.-based Homeland Vinyl Products Inc., Fombell, Pa.-based Veka Inc. and Cary, N.C.-based Kroy Building Products Inc.
Homeland and Veka are launching new manufacturing facilities this year. Kroy isn't far off from another plant opening, either.
Homeland is opening its second plant, in Logan, Utah. Douglas House, Homeland's sales and marketing manager, was mum on details of the Utah plant but said it is operational and that Homeland's vinyl extrusion capacity will double by the end of 2006.
Homeland also does some in-house injection molding and manufactures most of its own post caps.
Walter Stucky, president of Veka USA, said Veka's new $10 million plant in Terrell, Texas, will help maintain Veka's place as a market leader in vinyl profile extrusions. Veka will extrude fence, deck and railing products in addition to window and door profiles at the facility, Stucky said.
Veka is owned by Veka AG of Sendenhorst, Germany. The North American arm operates extrusion sites in Fombell; Reno, Nev.; Youngstown, Ohio; and Edmonton, Alberta.
New Kroy President and CEO John Stephenson said his company will increase capacity this year and is likely to open a new manufacturing plant in 2007 - in the West.
``Right now, we can add capacity without adding lines, through process improvement,'' Stephenson said.
Vinyl's explosive growth in fence, deck and railing applications has spawned offshoot companies. Firms like Sarnia, Ontario-based New England Arbors Canada Inc. - which makes ornamental products like pergolas, arbors, address signs, trellises and lampposts - are enjoying the ride.
``What we've found, according to our sales, is that the accessory market is growing faster than vinyl fencing,'' said Ken Machan, the company's president and co-founder. ``The swing to maintenance-free is outpacing vinyl sales growth.''