Valley Forge, Pa.-based building products giant CertainTeed Corp. is adding insulated concrete forms to its Foundation-brand business after entering a partnership with Arxx Corp., the market leader in the ICF industry.
More specifically, CertainTeed will have its own brand of Apex Block. Portland, Ore.-based Arxx acquired Apex Construction Systems Inc. in January for about $7 million.
The CertainTeed deal is part of a global effort by parent company Cie. de Saint-Gobain in Paris, which this year became part owner of Arxx along with three North American venture capital groups.
``There is a global movement in environmental green build and sustainable build. Code requirements for energy efficiency are growing rapidly,'' said Arxx sales and marketing Vice President Robert Coveney. ``The thought process for Saint-Gobain is to tap into new technologies for their customer base to be able to build to these new standards,'' he said in a Sept. 12 telephone interview from Paris, where he was meeting with Saint-Gobain officials.
Apex ICFs are somewhat unique in the industry. The vast majority of ICFs are made from two molded panels of expanded polystyrene connected by a web often an injection molded polypropylene part. ICFs are typically about 16 inches tall and about 4 feet wide.
Apex blocks are molded with a blend of 85 percent recycled PS foam and 15 percent cement, according to Steve Gross, marketing and product development director for CertainTeed Foundation.
``This is an up-and-coming building market that we really didn't have a presence in. That was certainly a motivating factor in the investment,'' Gross said by phone. ``If you look at the statistics on the historical growth of ICFs, it has been in the 20 percent range for years and years.''
Arxx officials already are making plans for new ICF production facilities to support the growing Apex business. The organic growth of the business calls for a new plant in 2009 and the CertainTeed support will likely require a third plant in 2010, Coveney said. He declined to disclose details of the new plants until those deals become finalized in the coming days.
The CertainTeed rollout is targeted for 2010, Coveney said.
``We're lining that up to start and have a soft launch in '09, but it's really a 2010 initiative we're looking to target,'' he said.
Walls are built with ICFs in an almost Legolike fashion. Once the exterior wall is erected, concreted 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 the structure.
Arxx has taken the lead as the top mover and shaker in the ICF industry. In addition to the Apex and CertainTeed deals, Arxx is fresh off the acquisition of Albuquerque-based American PolySteel LLC in June, one of the longtime industry leaders.