Master Molders Inc. is all about filling gaps. And owner Will Smetana sees one in the wood-plastic composite decking market.
In a 20,000-square-foot injection molding plant in Orangeburg, S.C., Master Molders is making custom parts for several end markets. But it's the company's proprietary Quick Deck product that has Smetana really excited.
Quick Deck is an injection molded wood composite decking product sold as 1-square-foot interlocking tiles, along with a couple different types of trim. While most composite decking on the market uses an approximate 50-50 blend of wood flour and polyethylene, Quick Deck is comprised of about 35 percent wood flour.
``If you take the 50-50 from the extrusion process, it's just too stiff and doesn't flow,'' Smetana said in a telephone interview.
The injection molded tiles also contain some polypropylene and an ultraviolet stabilizer package.
Already, Quick Deck represents about 30 percent of Master Molders' sales, Smetana said. Master Molders also has a proprietary line of battery boxes for boats and recreational vehicles.
Quick Deck is being distributed through Bamberg, S.C.-based J-Mac Lumber Inc., though Smetana continues to pursue other distribution opportunities.
While wood composite lumber of the extruded variety is often sold for new construction, Smetana said Quick Deck is for those who want to want to improve an existing deck without dealing with the expense of new construction or the hassles of frequent maintenance.
``For a new home, or a new deck - I don't know if it's a wonderful product for that,'' he said. ``For instance, when a wood deck gets old, every year or two you have to go in, spray it down, clean it and re-stain it. This stuff, you just put it down. It just enhances the look of the deck and there's zero maintenance on it.''
The high polymer content discourages the mold and mildew problems associated with some other wood composites, and the UV stabilizer package ``is really doing its job,'' he said.
Smetana said Quick Deck has several other uses, including porch flooring, patio replacement or outdoor walkways.
``It has all the advantages of composite lumber without ... well, composite lumber is a big expense,'' he said. Quick Deck is selling for about $5 per square foot. Right now, Master Molders is making about 1,000 square feet per day on just one press. The company runs 23 injection molding machines.
Smetana said he can ship 20 square feet per box, with each box weighing 21 pounds.
Quick Deck will not replace any existing products in the market, he said.
``I see it more as filling a gap. But I think filling that gap could be huge,'' he said.
Master Molders processes several resins, including PP, polycarbonate, thermoplastic elastomers, PVC and glass-filled nylon.