American Original Building Products LLC's injection molded shake siding profiles represent Ferriot Inc.'s first launch of a proprietary product in 40 years.
Nearly 90 percent of Ferriot's business has been injection molding parts for business machines, electronics, and electrical and medical equipment. That will change, officials said, as the 79-year-old company which also specializes in tooling and prototyping ventures into building products.
It is Ferriot's tooling experience that makes it the right company to oversee American Original, officials said.
Some say there is perfection in imperfection. American Original officials are testing that theory with their injection molded panels, which are made by replicating precise digital images of wood. Aesthetically, the imperfections in the grains and wood pattern give the company the perfect cedar wood shake replacement, officials said.
American Original started out molding private-label panels for an undisclosed building products manufacturer, and has since added its own brand to the mix.
The company showcases a lean setup, with two 2,200-ton KraussMaffei presses operating side by side. One of the presses is set up to shoot two different molds and two different colors at the same time, but on one machine. General Manager Mike Martin said the setup is unique to North America.
Each of the three molds has a KraussMaffei five-axis robot with unique end-of-arm tooling that removes each profile.
American Original is using a custom-blended thermoplastic olefin resin to make the shake panels.
The product is the next generation of shake siding, said John Cahill, executive vice president of National Shelter Products Inc. in Hudson, Ohio. The sales management, marketing and product development company is responsible for pitching the idea to Ferriot and ultimately for getting the product to market.
Cahill was quick to say that American Original is not trying to compete with vinyl siding.
``What this product is, is a wood replacement, like cellular PVC in trim board,'' Cahill said. ``We did truly set out to be the leader in this category.''
The shake panels are another example of plastics providing value in building products applications over the so-called traditional materials, Cahill said.
``People that know shakes are choosing this product over fiber cement,'' Cahill said.
``Like fencing, decking, trim polymers are demonstrating that they are the best values for the application.''
The product was designed using a ``pull-through approach,'' said Craig Ferriot, the parent company's vice president of molding and finishing.
``First off, it's a mature market, so we had to be cost-competitive,'' Ferriot said. ``Then we interviewed design firms, architects and builders.''
The barriers to the siding market were very large, he said, along with a lot of liability in terms of potential warranty claims. Finally, American Original wanted to design something that would make life easier for contractors and installation crews, Ferriot said.
``We were able to start with a white sheet of paper and design a manufacturing process around the product,'' Ferriot said.
American Original's manufacturing space is in its own wing of the Ferriot company's 200,000-square-foot plant in Akron. Line workers inspect 100 percent of the parts as they package them.
The company's color program makes bold colors that officials said will hold up over time.
Ferriot traces its history to a couple master engravers in Europe who brought their talents to the United States in the late 1800s.
The company's tooling expertise continues to be its secret weapon and the reason its American Original subsidiary is able to mold such authentic-looking profiles.
``The upfront work was all about defining that grain,'' Martin said. ``It's something the consumer sees value in. It looks like wood.
``Defining detailed patterns in various materials is part of the lineage of the company. What the Ferriots came [to this country] to do. That is the key to our product.''