Cellular PVC trim extruder Versatex Trimboards, founded in 2003, is growing up.
The company moved into a new 60,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Aliquippa, Pa., the company announced Sept. 5.
The new building sits on a 10-acre site and is equipped to handle capacity increases. Plans also are in place for an additional 60,000-square-foot building as demand grows. Versatex employs about 50.
Sales have doubled every 18 months since the company's launch, President John Pace said in a Sept. 5 telephone interview.
Pace said it has been a difficult year given the economic climate in the construction industry, but the company and product category are doing well despite it.
Using free-foam technology, similar to that of market leader Azek Building Products Inc. of Moosic, Pa., Versatex makes trim, sheet and millwork designed to replace wood and wood composites in exterior applications. Free foam has a fine cell structure and produces a matte surface.
Some other cellular PVC extruders make foam profiles using a Celuka process, which involves cooling the surface of the profile to form a solid skin. The part is structurally stronger, but tends to have a glossy appearance and can fracture when hit with a hammer.
The overall market trend toward low-maintenance building products and wood replacement is not going away, and Versatex is capitalizing on it.
Officials at Versatex, which is owned by Aliquippa-based Wolfpac Technologies Inc., come from the vinyl siding industry, Pace said. Thorough knowledge of the exterior cladding market has given Versatex an advantage. Through slight alternations to the profiles, and the ability to cut boards to length without charging a premium for it, Versatex has made life easier for home builders, Pace said.
``We have builder forums,'' he said. ``We get to understand what they're doing. Most of these ideas come from contractors and builders in the market.''
Cellular PVC, in many cases, has become the material du jour in exterior plastic building products. Azek and several others, including KÃ¶mmerling USA Inc., Gossen Corp., Versatex and Fypon Ltd. which typically foams urethane to make its products have turned cellular PVC into a significant and fast-growing industry.
The surging popularity of the product helped it work its way into the wood-plastic composite decking industry in 2007 and this year, as several composite decking extruders turned to cellular PVC for use in their most-expensive offerings.
Pace is bullish for the future.
``We think we'll continue to grow,'' he said. ``We grew significantly last year, and we're having another very good year this year in a down market.''