Why not a plastic burial vault?
After years of trying to break into the industry, Gorio Corp. is finally convincing people that rotationally molded burial vaults are acceptable and actually easier to work with than the standard vault. That answer is helping Gorio grow its rotomolding business dramatically.
``Instead of gluing a plastic liner to concrete, we feel that it is better to have a double wall seamless all-plastic burial vault,'' said Pierre Gorio, chief executive officer and president, in a July 11 telephone interview.
Burial vaults are placed in the ground to protect a casket and prevent the ground from settling.
He said his company's polyethylene double-wall vault infused with PE structural foam has been developed over the last nine years and has slowly been gaining acceptance the last year and a half. When compared to its concrete rival, which has been used for many years, it offers many advantages, such as lower cost, lighter weight and more durability.
He's been pushing the idea, and it's gaining acceptance. What has been a regional story is soon to gain a national scope.
McLeansville, N.C.-based Gorio has signed a agreement with Sherman McKinniss, vice chairman of the board of Rotonics Manufacturing Inc., of Gardena, Calif., to begin production of the vaults in Illinois, California and Texas.
``We're helping them to stretch their line,'' McKinniss said.
He said Rotonics will make the vaults at three or four of its plants, but if a need arises, they could be made at any of the other 10 facilities Rotonics operates.
McKinniss said he joined on when he saw a 300-pound plastic vault could be easily maneuvered and its competition was nearly 10 times heavier. Usually, it takes a truck with a lift to place a burial vault in the cemetery, but now the vault can be transported in the back of a pickup, McKinniss said.
The plastic burial vault idea, according to Gorio, dates back many years. His parents, Pete and Carolyn Goria, started a concrete business in 1970 and later in the mid-1970s obtained a Wilbert Burial Vault Co. franchise. However, after 29 years, they retired, selling the business.
Pete Goria then turned to rotational molding. As the story goes, he purchased a machine that was wasting away in a field in Texas, brought it to North Carolina, refurbished it, and started working on a patented process to make plastic burial vaults
``I owe a lot to my father - he's the visionary,'' Pierre Gorio said.
Pierre has since taken over the company and is convincing more funeral directors and customers that a plastic burial vault makes sense.
In the 1960s, some companies began to make burial vaults with a thermoformed plastic liner. The 1980s brought on a variety of other plastic vaults, and now some companies are using structural foam molding.
One of the first concerns about using plastics in this application was that the vaults would not be strong enough. However, Gorio said his model exceeds expectations. He said testing the vault meant starting with a 500 pound pressure to the center and increasing it every five minutes until it reached 5,000 pounds of pressure.
``We hired an engineer to come in and do the same thing, but we put the full weight on at the start. It proved to be five times stronger ... with 28,000 pounds [of] pressure,'' he said.
Gorio said the company then went to an engineering firm to validate the findings.
``Also, it is about 2,000 pounds lighter, so you have 275 pounds vs. 2,700 pounds of concrete - you don't have to worry about moving it,'' he said. ``Literally, a hand truck can move it.''
Gorio said the company has researched the new vault since 1995 and has been selling it for the past three years.
Gorio Corp. has 11 employees working in a 20,000-square-foot facility. It operates a 5 million BTU oven that has a three-arm fixed turret machine with a 144-inch swing. The company also has a 2.5 million BTU oven with the three-arm fixed turret and an 88-inch swing.
He said the company can produce up to 5,000 vaults a year, and vaults now provide about 60 percent of Gorio's business.
The privately held company does not provide sales figures.
Other Gorio products include a patented job-site fire extinguisher holder called the Firemate. It has an Eiffel Tower-like shape, standing 34 inches tall with a 21-inch-by-21-inch base. Gorio said it accounts for 20 percent of the company's business. In the past, wood boxes were built and painted red for use at worksites. The plastic version can be loaded on pallets and transported from site to site.
Another product is a wheelchair called the Transcart, which comes with shelving and a holder for an intravenous pole to be used for transporting patients room to room or floor to floor in a hospital or nursing home.
The company also provides boat consoles, and padded boxes that hunters place in the back of their truck to transport weapons, dogs and other items.