Wilmington, Ohio-based Vinyl Visions LLC is changing its name to Crane Fencing Solutions, and will relocate to a larger extrusion facility in Mason, Ohio, closer to Cincinnati.
The motivation to make the changes is twofold: Vinyl Visions continues to grow and simply needs more room, and company officials decided it was time to tap into the brand equity that the Crane family name has built in the plastics industry.
The new building is 200,000 square feet, has rail access, and will employ about 180. Crane will invest $12.5 million to retrofit the building and expand onto the 25-acre parcel. In exchange, the city of Mason has granted an eight-year, $300,000 tax-abatement package.
Louis Goldner, Vinyl Visions' vice president of marketing, said part of the criteria for relocating included staying within a 30-mile radius of Wilmington to mitigate job loss for existing employees.
``This is exciting for our company,'' Goldner said in a Sept. 14 telephone interview. ``These are the types of things that you dream about. Great things are happening.''
Vinyl Visions isn't the only member of the Crane Plastics Co. family making moves.
After months of sitting on the fence, TimberTech Ltd. has decided the grass does indeed look greener. Wilmington-based TimberTech will launch by July a full line of wood-plastic composite fencing products to complement the firm's deck boards, said President Stu Kemper.
The Crane Plastics subsidiary displayed a composite fence prototype at FenceTech in Las Vegas in February. FenceTech is the annual trade show of the Glen Ellyn, Ill.-based American Fence Association.
TimberTech officials said at the time they were still trying to understand the market and were only testing the waters. That has changed.
``We're definitely doing it,'' Kemper said in an Aug. 28 interview at Crane headquarters in Columbus.
The fence is still in the engineering stage. A number of questions need to be answered, Kemper said, including what polymer will be used and how the fence will be supported.
Winchester, Va.-based Trex Co. Inc. launched its Seclusions-brand fencing at the International Builders' Show in January. The polyethylene-wood-fiber mix is similar to its deck-board formula and features metal reinforcement for support. While the metal provides good support, it also adds weight to the product.
``Weight is a consideration for us,'' Kemper said. ``That will play a part in our framing technology.''
TimberTech also will consider using vinyl instead of PE. ``It's still an option,'' Kemper said. ``We're not sure yet.''
There are a number of factors, composite fence makers said, that could help accelerate composite fencing's growth rate ahead of decking - the biggest being price.
The replacement of a wood fence with a composite product is typically a smaller price jump than the conversion from a wood deck to a composite deck.
Kemper's confidence in the ability of the composite fence category to grow is that composite decking already has made it a known material.
``That's a key advantage,'' he said. ``It's a lot more well-accepted.''
Even still, the company's bullish outlook will be one tempered with cautiousness.
``It's still going to be harder than everyone thinks it is,'' he said.