Comments generalize composite decking
I read Matt Griswold's Perspective column in the March 12 issue [``Wood looks don't last forever,'' Page 6]. Your comments generalize all composite deck board products ``composed of polyethylene and wood fiber'' as, in essence, being the same and performing the same. This could not be farther from reality.
In 2007, Strandex Corp. is celebrating 15 years of service to the WPC industry. Not many organizations have as much experience in working with these materials as we do. It is a fact that success in this business is process and formulation specific. Some products have a very strong track record of durability, customer satisfaction and repeat business. Proper research was conducted in the development of the products years ago and proven process technology is practiced daily on the producer's plant floor to keep customers from experiencing the product issues that you describe.
Wood-fiber species, particle-size distribution, moisture content, polymer type, purity, grade, formulation, minor ingredients, extruder type, die design, and cooling method are just a few variables that have an enormous effect on the performance and appearance of any WPC product. Less-experienced processors have made mistakes in some of these variables, which has caused them problems.
Please do not categorize everyone as the same. Would a major big-box store create its own brand of composite decking after carrying the wood-fiber and polyethylene-based product for over eight years if they had product failures and unhappy customers?
You are correct that composite decking has ``made the leap from niche to mainstream'' and you can bet we know how we got here: through pleasing customers. The brands that continue to gain market share use sound engineering, proven process technology and are high performance products. Customers are becoming more informed about the differences between WPC products and are driving the market, just as they should do.
Customer service is opportunity for U.S.
I can relate to Robert Grace's recent column on customer service (``To stay competitive, try customer service,'' Grace Notes, Dec. 11, 2006).
You are quite correct to say the issue should be seen as one of the greatest ``remaining'' opportunities American manufacturers have to compete. In fact, outstanding service should allow us to excel, because we presumably enjoy the added advantage of being more familiar with the culture.
My company is little, yet complex. And, as with our Web site, good logical design of our phone system plus the trained human element should help visitors navigate the choices and get help more easily. We are working on it.
When I calmed down again after reading about your experiences, I Blackberried my assistant to meet first thing Monday morning to rework our phone system. Thanks for the reminder and inspiration!
Fort Collins, Colo.