A Portland, Ore.-based maker of hybrid insulating concrete forms is expanding its plant, plans to build two others and seems poised to take the ICF industry by storm.
Apex Construction Systems Inc. molds blocks used for exterior wall construction. The blocks are made of recycled polystyrene, concrete and a proprietary secret sauce that company officials won't disclose.
The 3-year-old company's patented Apex Block product has garnered enough interest to prompt the firm to open two new plants within the next year.
Apex is looking to locate plants in Southern California and Mississippi, said Robert Budihas, executive vice president of corporate development, in a Nov. 8 telephone interview.
The firm is updating its 43,000-square-foot plant in Phoenix. The new California plant will be about 100,000 square feet, Budihas said. Apex anticipates having between nine and 12 block-making plants open within the next five years.
``Our intent is to become the dominant player in this space,'' Budihas said. ``We're not here to be No. 2.''
Apex Blocks have achieved an ASTM lab-tested R-value of 52 and boast excellent noise-reduction properties, according to Budihas. Today's building standards require R-values of 19-21.
``This dramatically increases the energy efficiency of the house,'' Budihas said. ``Homeowners can cut heating and cooling by 60 percent.''
ICF products are making inroads in residential and commercial construction projects. Whether they ever fully replace lumber in exterior wall construction remains to be seen, but the category is undeniably on an upswing.
Apex is positioning itself to capitalize on growing interest in the product category.
``The [Insulating Concrete Form Association] has done an outstanding job over the last 15 years educating builders and contractors, as well as consumers, on how to build sustainable homes and buildings,'' Budihas said.
Apex Blocks weigh 51 pounds. They are 4 feet long, 16 inches high and 10 inches wide. Every block has 6-inch channels that run through the block every 16 inches. Those channels are there for steel rebar and concrete reinforcement.
``If you were to strip away Apex from a wall, you'd have a steel and concrete grid every 16 inches. That's the real strength of the wall,'' Budihas said.
The existing plant in Phoenix has the capacity to mold more than 3 million square feet of blocks annually.