As a longtime carpenter and contractor, Douglas Spear is bothered by the mess caused by the removal of temporary walls made of drywall mounted on metal studs.
Every 12-foot-high by 70-foot-long temporary wall demolished sends about 1 ton of debris to a landfill, Spear estimated. Miles of temporary walls are built and then we turn around and throw them away, he said.
Now, he has a recyclable alternative made from thermoformed plastic and offered by his company, Las Vegas-based Envy Modular Wall Systems LLC.
Spear had been looking for an alternative to temporary walls for about two years, but the idea really took hold when he met up with Jim Schoonover, president of sheet extruder Vintech Industries Inc. of Imlay City, Mich.
Spear said Vintech helped solve some design problems within a couple of weeks. Their first job turned out to be a wall for the MGM Mirage City Center project in Las Vegas.
Using modular walls at MGM prevented 100 tons of construction debris from heading for landfills and helped the firms win a 2009 Lifecycle Building Challenge Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Spear and Schoonover said sales of the system could mean quite a few jobs in the coming years. Envy has four employees, but Spear expects to have 50 within a year. Manufacturing the systems could add 10- 30 more.
We really want to target the temporary-wall industry. Every shopping mall in America puts them up now, Schoonover said.
Spear said he intends to use local labor to install the systems wherever they are needed. Envy has been doing demonstrations for malls and airports, which also use many temporary walls. He has also spent time telling the story to architectural firms, conferences and representatives of unions. The EPA award is opening up government work as well.
It takes 90 percent of the labor out of temporary walls. We can do a 12-foot-tall wall that is 40 feet wide in about 30 minutes. The same wall using metal studs and drywall requires about 55 man hours, Spear said.
One feature is the walls can be made in various colors and processed with advertising graphics.
Schoonover sees the product as a way for Vintech to diversify. The firm is heavily into automotive, which remains important. But it is in the process of reducing auto sales from 80 percent to about 60 percent.
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