Unable to obtain additional financing from its equity investors, 4-year-old Tech-Wood North America is in the process of shutting down.
Tech-Wood was attempting to gain a foothold in the siding market with a product made from liquefied polypropylene and oriented long-strand pinewood fibers. Former President and CEO Peter Kotiadis had high hopes that the company's Tech-Plank siding would become the next vinyl.
Now, Kotiadis has been hired as director of product development for cellular PVC and composite decking manufacturer Fiberon LLC.
“He's already helped us with our processes,” said Bill Ross, vice president of sales for the Charlotte, N.C., company, in an interview at the International Builders Show, held Feb. 8-11 in Orlando.
Kotiadis said the decision to shutter Tech-Wood was made in December. He said Tech-Wood is in the process of shutting down and will file for bankruptcy soon.
Tech-Wood had invested more than $10 million in the Wood 2.0 technology that it was using to make its siding. Just one year ago, it had begun manufacturing the siding in Greenwood, S.C., where it was based. Its plant closed in January.
Kotiadis had also unveiled plans to make fencing and window sashes and frames using the same technology, and last year began cutting the tooling to make those sashes and frames.
Tech-Wood had hoped to make headway in the siding market because its polymer-enhanced products, according to Kotiadis, were twice as strong as fiber cement and 35 percent lighter. They also were stronger and stiffer and had a higher thermal rating than many wood windows, he said. The products were made by encapsulating resin-free, bone-dry, oriented long-strand, pine-wood fibers with liquefied polypropylene through a continuous extrusion process. Fibers made up roughly 75 percent of the product, and PP the rest.
Kotiadis, a former Royal Group Inc. executive, had also banked on the product's color versatility as a marketing advantage. It was possible to make Wood 2.0 products in hundreds of colors at no premium cost compared with vinyl, he said, and at one-third to one-half the price of competing fiber-cement products.
Tech-Wood North America had held exclusive North American rights to the Wood 2.0 technology through a license from Tech-Wood International Ltd. of Birmingham, England. Tech-Wood North America was an independent company with financial backing from an investor group that is U.S. owned and controlled.
Rights to the technology revert to Tech-Wood International Ltd.
The companies have no connection to Tech-Wood International BV of Rotterdam, Netherlands, which filed for bankruptcy a year ago, Kotiadis said.
Kotiadis had plans to someday have a complete Wood 2.0 siding system — including corners, soffits, J-channels and fascia boards. Two years ago he had said, “I believe that someday I can build an entire house out of Tech-Wood and, other than pure wood, I don't think you can do that with any other material.”