Thermoformer Penda Corp. is getting out of the fiberglass business, selling off its product lines and planning to close its final fiberglass processing plant.
The move focuses the firm's attention on thermoplastic parts, and making truck accessories such as bedliners and Penda's new thermoformed truck tonneau covers.
``Today's competitive environment requires every manufacturer to focus on what they do best and to achieve either a No. 1 or No. 2 position in their markets,'' said Penda President and Chief Executive Officer Ulf Buergel in a Feb. 22 news release. ``It is clear we cannot match the success in fiberglass that we have achieved in thermoformed solutions.''
The company's Tri-Glass fiberglass operation in Daleville, Ala., will close within 60 days, laying off 65 workers.
Penda already has sold the book of business to Brand FX Body Co. of Fort Worth, Texas, for an undisclosed sum. Brand FX purchased Penda's Glasstite fiberglass business - including the manufacturing plant in Dunnell, Minn. - in 2006. Brand FX will house the Tri-Glass manufacturing within its existing facilities.
Glasstite and Tri-Glass make pickup-truck caps and tonneau covers for the automotive aftermarket industry. Penda can produce a thermoplastic tonneau cover - being marketed as the Penda Venture - that is lighter than fiberglass, but still offers the same structural and aesthetic elements as fiberglass alternatives.
The sale is not a surprise, noted Dale Brosius, president of Brosius Management Consultants, a Brighton, Mich.-based group with an emphasis on composites. Tonneau covers and caps traditionally have a low profit margin, and with Penda's specialty in thermoplastics, it makes sense for the firm to exit fiberglass in favor of its primary processing format.
Brand FX already uses fiberglass to make complete bodies for utility trucks under its Fibre Body name, and produces steel truck tops and caps under the GemTop brand.