With nearly every economic indicator stacked against it, wood-plastic composite decking continues to gain traction in North America, but with Canada lagging behind the U.S.
Resin prices have shot up nearly 50 percent and, combined with comparatively low pressure-treated lumber prices, have continued to strain the Canadian market.
In early June, the country's largest composite deck maker, Bolton, Ontario-based Brite Manufacturing Inc., shut its doors as its officials seek a strategic buyer.
``Manufacturing is getting killed right now,'' Brite Vice President Andrew Rush said by telephone.
Slower adoption to composites from traditional lumber has not helped either, he said.
The U.S. economy is having a major impact on that market as well, with exports to the U.S. representing about 80 percent of the collective business of Canadian manufacturers, said Wayne Song, president of Mississauga, Ontario-based Futuresoft Technologies Inc. Currency exchange rates have hurt too, he said at the International Conference on Progress in Biofibre Plastic Composites, held in Toronto in May.
Another hurdle is deck and guardrail building codes in Canada, where ``it's much harder to get approved,'' Song said. Still, one materials cost-savings advantage is Canadian consumers' acceptance of hollow profiles for building decks, he noted.
As in the U.S., Canadian firms are waiting out the downturn, Rush said: ``But how many people have the intestinal fortitude and financial wherewithal to do that?''