Apex Block, a Roseburg, Ore.-based subsidiary of Lacuna Inc., plans to expand its manufacturing by constructing 11 new plants during the next 16 months.
Apex Block makes lightweight insulated concrete stay-form blocks, made from a proprietary mix of cement, reclaimed polystyrene granules and other polymers.
Lacuna was formed by Dale Siens, president and CEO of both Apex Block and Lacuna, in 2009.
In a July 8 phone interview, Siens said he was inspired to start Lacuna after a difficult time in his personal life. His daughter became seriously ill, and he spent a five-month period at her bedside. She recovered, and the experience left him wanting to turn [the] hurt into something productive.
Siens, a former investment banker, was familiar with Apex Block, as the company was one of his clients. Since his daughter's recovery, he had been thinking about the companies he had put money into over the years, and began to consider purchasing one of them.
One night last year, he settled on Apex Block, a company that, according to Siens, was struggling because of the economic downturn.
Lacuna finalized the deal to buy the assets of Apex Block earlier this year. Prior to the purchase, Siens said, the company had been dormant for about 11 months.
Since then, Siens said he and his team have guided the firm from second-generation technology at the time of purchase to fifth-generation technology in just three months.
Apex-Block, as the product is called, is used for light-commercial buildings, like schools, homes and apartments. Freestanding, the material can be built up to five stories. Siens said some companies are now using it to build structures up to 23 stories.
Siens said the core design of Apex-Block remains the same as the one designed before Lacuna bought the company. The manufacturing process has been improved, he said, although he declined to give details.
Roseburg was chosen as the new headquarters of the company, Siens said, for several reasons. First, he indicated Oregon wants to lead the green housing movement. Second, he grew up in Oregon and currently lives there. Third, the product was originally built to work in the Pacific Northwest, as it does not mold or mildew, according to Siens.
Though built for that region, production was moved to Phoenix by the previous owners because of the building boom taking place in the city at that time.
Siens said Apex-Block can help to reduce the amount of expanded PS going into landfills, from both consumer and industrial use. On the consumer end, Siens said Apex plans to provide a space near each new plant where consumers can dispose of EPS. Such a program already exists at the Phoenix plant.
On the industrial side, Siens said Apex tries to intercept EPS waste that companies throw out, usually from packaging shipped between companies.
Apex-Block acts as a form for concrete. It is an insulator, with the strength coming from concrete and steel reinforcement. Each block is 48 inches long by16 inches high by 10 inches wide and weighs 52 pounds.
Apex Block plans to construct two types of plants to produce the Apex-Block. The MP (max-plant) 180 series of plants will be static or scalable plants, as Siens described. The plants are built in a traditional building, with the equipment placed within. Everything within the plants will be upgradeable, Siens said, turning the plants into an MP 360 or MP 720 plant.
Each MP 180 plant takes about 30-60 days to construct, Siens said. The plants will be about 48,000 square feet or larger, with the capacity to produce about 4,000 blocks a day. He added that it only takes 15 seconds to make one Apex-Block. The company expects annual revenue to be somewhere between $23 million and $70 million, Siens said.
The MPX 180 series of plants are the same as the MP 180 plants, but are portable. Siens said they could be set up in a parking lot next to a large construction project or even right next to a regular MP 180 plant. Siens did not say when the portable plants will be constructed, but did say that at least six of them are planned.
The first MP 180 plant will be built in Roseburg, Ore. Siens said construction is set to begin soon, with the site selected, and building materials have already arrived.
Siens described Roseburg as a mill town with a great workforce that has a tremendous amount of talent, and a small-town atmosphere.
The community has been great to work with, he said.
Roseburg's access to large cities in the region means Apex can bring waste products in from those cities, centralize it there and then redistribute to the consumer, Siens said.
Along with the Roseburg plant, 11 other MP 180 series plants will be built across the country. Siens would not reveal their location, but he did say the cities have been selected and negotiations are taking place for land.
The current Apex Block plant in Phoenix, which opened in 2006 and now produces about 600-700 blocks a day, will soon be upgraded to an MP 360 series plant, Siens said.
Siens expects construction on all of the plants to be completed within 16 months. He said about 650 jobs will be created for the plants alone, with additional jobs expected in the corporate infrastructure.
After Lacuna acquired Apex Block, it did bring back some of the floor workers previously employed under Apex's prior owners. Siens added that none of the old management team was rehired.
Siens said his goal is to get people back to work and get America manufacturing again.
According to Siens, both builders and consumers have been receptive to this new construction material. He added it costs less to build with Apex than any other building system.
In addition to the acquisition of Apex Block, Siens said Lacuna is acquiring assets of other companies. Lacuna also is forming a division of Apex Block that will focus on the Latin American market, with future plans to develop divisions for other parts of the world.
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