Two former Polywood Inc. executives are back in the structural plastic lumber business.
In a reverse merger, startup company Axion International Inc. acquired Analytical Surveys Inc., a publicly traded San Antonio, Texas-based oil and natural gas exploration and drilling company.
Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Axion will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Analytical Surveys. The former Axion shareholders received 36.8 million shares of Analytical's common stock, which represents about 91 percent of the outstanding shares.
The deal closed on March 20, when Analytical shares - traded over the counter - were trading for 11 cents, placing the transaction's value in the $4 million range.
Axion will commence production of structural plastic lumber products through third-party extruders in the third quarter.
``We're really a technology development company at this point,'' said Jim Kerstein, Axion's chief executive officer, in a March 27 telephone interview.
Kerstein and Axion President Marc Green are both former executives of Polywood Inc. They had left Polywood in 2004, around the time a group of New York investors bought the company and proceeded to discontinue the sale of all structural lumber products except railroad ties.
Polywood's products were based on technology originally developed at Rutgers University, where researchers have been extruding plastic lumber since 1987. Axion now is the licensee of the Rutgers technology.
``It's taking waste materials and being able to develop railroad ties and bridge timbers,'' Kerstein said. ``It's something I really believe in and think is great.''
In 2003, the world's first all-plastic bridge opened in New Jersey's Wharton State Forest, courtesy of the Rutgers-developed technology.
The structural plastic products are made from a patented mix of high density polyethylene and polystyrene.
Railroad ties, bridge infrastructure, utility poles, marine pilings and bulk headings are among the products Axion plans to sell.
To date, economics have prevented structural lumber products from taking hold the way manufacturers hope, even in applications in which the products might be the best-performing option.
``We have to continue engineering and developing products that highlight the benefits of plastics,'' Kerstein said. ``By coming up with more creative design features, more flexible building features, we become very, very cost effective.''