Diversification is a necessity in today's market, whether it means a company is exploring different materials or different end markets.
An analysis of the companies involved in this year's Plastics News ranking of North American pipe, profile and tubing extruders shows that the state of the market last year apparently has motivated many to explore alternatives, especially as the once- booming residential construction market has been extremely anemic and those serving the automotive market have had to find new ways to use that capacity.
Windows are starting to rebound with the remodeling market, there's no question, said Steve Dillon, marketing director for extruder Veka Inc., based in Fombell, Pa. New federal tax credits are encouraging consumers to make purchases.
Still, Veka is among the companies choosing to diversify by end market. The company has introduced a window to be sold into the commercial construction market, even though that sector is facing instability right now.
It's impossible to predict right now for what's going to happen, Dillon said in a recent telephone interview. We're still signing on fabricators; from our point of view, that's a good thing. Energy codes are warranting these types of transitions. We are encouraged by the response that residential fabricators have toward commercial products. They are interested but proceed with caution.
Marvin Windows and Doors of Warroad, Minn., is adding siding to its portfolio, with production at its Tecton subsidiary in Fargo, N.D. Marvin is making the venture into fiberglass siding to compete against vinyl siding and natural wood. The siding is being marketed as Apex Siding System.
Marvin officials did not return several calls seeking comment.
The industry also has been fighting a new round of anti-PVC efforts.
We're always going to battle questions about PVC. It's just about education, said Veka's Dillon. They put out propaganda, we combat it. But we still have the largest growth segment in residential windows and doors. I think that we'll start to see that commercially. We're ready to go after that.
One of the more surprising stories over the past several months has been Advanced Drainage Systems Inc.'s move into concrete pipe. Officials have said that decision does not indicate a change in philosophy, just a broadening of its product offering.
In other areas of pipe, one company in particular is starting to take advantage of the market forces of green products and sustainability.
Charlotte Pipe and Foundry Co. of Charlotte, N.C., now has its RePVC piping system listed with not-for-profit certification organization NSF International. The product is coextruded solid-wall pipe for the drainage market.
The [Environmental Protection Agency] is required to designate products that are or can be made with recovered materials, and to recommend practices for buying these products, said Greg Nahrgang, new product development manager with Charlotte Pipe.
Once a product is designated, procuring agencies are required to purchase it with the highest recovered-material-content level practicable. The bottom line is that any non-pressure pipe on a government project should incorporate recycled content. Presumably due to this legislation, we are currently seeing PVC [drain, waste and vent] pipe with recycled content specified on military projects.
Nahrgang believes non-potable uses also will grow quickly.
Non-potable water applications, the applications in which ReUze [chlorinated PVC pipe] is installed, will eventually explode due to drought and government restrictions on water consumption, he said. It isn't a question of if these applications become standard practice; it is a question of when they will become standard practice. In Australia the rainwater harvesting market was non-existent five years ago, and now it is a $750 million annual business.
Interested in more information about the PPT extrusion market? Plastics News correspondent Angie DeRosa has just completed an in-depth, nine-page white paper on the topic, North American Pipe, Profile and Tubing Extrusion Market. Cost of the paper is $200. For information, contact Hollee Keller at [email protected] or tel. (330) 865-6152.
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