Winchester, Va.-based Trex Co. Inc.'s deck and railing products now will be sold in Lowe's Cos. Inc.'s 1,325 domestic home improvement stores, Trex announced Jan. 12.
Trex, the market leader in wood-plastic composite deck and railings, already has a distribution agreement in place with Home Depot Stores Inc., which has more than 2,000 retail outlets. About 900 Home Depot stores stock Trex products.
Also Jan. 12, Tacoma, Wash.-based Weyerhaeuser Co. said it has extended by three years its deal with Lowe's to sell ChoiceDek deck and railing products. ChoiceDek composite lumber is extruded by Springdale, Ark.-based Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies Inc.
Both Trex and ChoiceDek are made of a 50-50 mix of polyethylene and wood fiber, and rely heavily on recycled materials to make their products.
Trex's deal with Lowe's could make life more difficult for AERT, said Steve Van Kouteren, a principal with Exton, Pa.-based Principia Partners, a building products consulting firm.
``About 75 percent of [AERT's] sales is ChoiceDek through Weyerhaeuser,'' Van Kouteren said. ``The key issue is whether or not Trex's presence at Lowe's will boost overall composite decking sales and both Trex and AERT will `rise with the tide,' or will the presence of Trex cannibalize ChoiceDek sales.''
Trex recently launched a new line of composite decking called Contours. The line is supposed to cost less, more on the level of ChoiceDek. Van Kouteren said it's unclear at this point whether Trex will supply Lowe's with Contours, or with its more expensive product line, Accents.
Industry consultant Bud Bootier said the agreement illustrates the changing perception of selling building products via big-box stores. Specialty dealers and consumer-oriented home-improvement stores were once mutually exclusive as distribution channels, he said.
``There's a coming of age now that's occurred,'' said Bootier, who heads Wexford, Pa.-based Pure Strategy. ``Now, the big boxes are so much a part of the fabric of home improvement, remodeling [and] the American culture, that not being in them is a problem. The equivalent of the population of China goes through Home Depot every year.''