Two of the most well-known and long-standing insulating concrete forms companies joined forces when Portland, Ore.-based Arxx Corp. acquired Albuquerque, N.M.-based American PolySteel LLC for an undisclosed sum.
The deal, which closed in June, gives PolySteel access to deep-pocketed investors, and it further enhances the Arxx product portfolio.
Arxx is owned by three venture capital firms San Francisco-based Nth Power, Montreal-based Emerald Technology Ventures, and Radnor, Pa.-based Element Partners and one of the world's largest building products companies, Paris-based Cie. de Saint-Gobain.
The acquisition is Arxx's second this year. The company acquired Portland-based ICF maker Apex Construction Systems Inc. in January for about $7 million. Arxx has further distanced itself as the market leader in the ICF industry with the two deals.
``There has been increasing conversation for the need for this industry to consolidate. We've been actively looking at opportunities to consolidate for the last eight years,'' said Patrick Murphy, former PolySteel president, in a telephone interview. ``Given the market we're in, this was a good opportunity to do that. There are a lot of companies reevaluating right now.''
Murphy is staying on in an advisory role, but will slowly phase himself out of the company's executive staff during the coming months, he said.
PolySteel, the brand, will continue to exist, said Robert Coveney, Arxx's vice president of sales and marketing, in a telephone interview.
``If you're an Arxx distributor in the marketplace, you'll remain one. If you're a PolySteel distributor, you'll remain a PolySteel distributor,'' Coveney said.
No manufacturing plants will be affected as the vast majority of ICFs in the industry are made by third-party shape molders who typically make product for the packaging industry.
The construction slowdown is a good thing for the ICF industry, Coveney said, because builders now have the time to consider alternative construction methods.
``When they were selling everything they had, there was no inclination to talk about other ways to build their homes,'' he said. ``The slowdown in the market is actually a good thing for ICFs. A short-term hurt, but a long-term benefit.''
The building method produces an energy-efficient structure that Coveney said will be even more attractive to builders looking to differentiate themselves in their green building efforts.
``Green building is not a trend, but a paradigm shift in the construction industry,'' he said.
ICFs are made from two molded panels of expanded polystyrene connected by a web often an injection molded polypropylene part. Those new molded parts, a substitute for steel webs, have provided logistical advantages for builders, including predetermined slots for rebar and in some cases, the flexibility to fold flat. The flexibility at least doubles the amount of ICFs that can be shipped at once. ICFs typically are about 16 inches tall and about 4 feet wide.
Walls are built with ICFs in an almost Legolike fashion. Once the exterior wall is erected, concrete is poured down its mostly hollow center. The concrete and steel reinforcement creates walls that builders estimate can last up to 200 years. The EPS forms stay in place and provide fire-resistant, energy-efficient insulation that proponents say will pay for itself many times over in energy savings during the life of a structure.