The parent company of Azek Building Products Inc., a maker of cellular PVC decking, railing and trim boards, will buy TimberTech Ltd., a major producer of wood-plastic composites.
CPG International Inc. issued an Aug. 27 announcement that it has signed a definitive agreement to buy TimberTech from Crane Group. Terms were not disclosed.
TimberTech officials told employees at its factory in Wilmington, Ohio, about the pending deal Aug. 24.
Eric Jungbluth, CEO of CPG International, said the acquisition will help both companies.
“The ultimate goal is for our Azek business and TimberTech to join forces,” Jungbluth said in the news release. “We believe this powerful combination will not only create the largest manufacturer in the trim, decking and railing market, but will also create a premier company in the industry as both entities manufacture highly engineered, outdoor living-solution products that offer exceptional aesthetics, performance and longevity.”
In the world of wood-plastic composite decking, TimberTech already is among the largest players. Publicly traded Trex Co. claims to be the largest producer of “wood alternate decking and railing,” with 2011 sales of $266.8 million.
TimberTech is one of the pioneers of WPC decking, which combines wood-flour and plastic to make a natural-looking, long-lasting deck. Columbus, Ohio-based Crane Group shipped its first TimberTech decking in 1997, a tongue-in-groove plank design that marked a big innovation. The company soon added railing and different colors of deck board.
Jungbluth called Scranton, Pa.-based Azek and TimberTech “a merger of equals.” The deal should be completed in late September.
“While Azek has led the conversion from wood exterior trim and decking to cellular PVC, TimberTech has been a strong force and pioneer in composite decking since the category began,” he said.
In 2000, Crane bought a building of about 300,000 square feet in Wilmington. TimberTech and Crane's vinyl fence business each took half of the factory space. As the composite decking business grew, TimberTech in 2004 built a 140,000-square-foot addition onto the Wilmington plant, for manufacturing and warehouse.
CPG's announcement of the deal said nothing about the Wilmington plant, which makes wood-plastic composite decking, cap stock decking, and railing. TimberTech also runs a smaller plant in Columbus, Ohio, producing cellular PVC decking.
The Wilmington News Journal quoted TimberTech's chief operating officer, Tom Gramlich, as saying it's “business as usual” at the factory, which employs 220 and is one of the largest employers in the small town.
Neither Gramlich, nor TimberTech CEO Stu Kemper returned telephone calls seeking comment. CPG spokeswoman Maureen Murray said neither buyer nor seller had any comment beyond the news release.
One local official was upbeat. “We're looking at it as a positive move for the company, regarding an expansion probably of their business,” said Bret Dixon, Clinton County economic development director. “That's how we're viewing it. We're hearing that it's kind of business as usual.”
Local government officials do not have all the details, since the deal has not closed, Dixon said.
One industry observer pointed out that CPG wants to add WPC, to go with Azek's cellular foam, so the Wilmington plant is an important part of the deal. However, there may be some overlap between the two companies in cellular PVC, made in Columbus, and railing, said the observer, who has knowledge of both firms.
For Crane, selling TimberTech marks another exit from extruded plastic building products. Last year Crane sold its vinyl siding business to PVC maker Georgia Gulf Corp. Crane sold its vinyl fence production in 2008 to U.S. Fence Inc. In 2009, it sold the custom extrusion business to its managers, although Crane retains a minority interest in that firm.
Selling TimberTech leaves Crane Materials International as Crane Group's only plastics construction products manufacturing. CMI makes marine sea walls, docks, piers and gangways.
“This was a difficult decision for our company and our family, but we think this acquisition positions the business to continue to be a leader in its product lines,” President Tanny Crane said in the news release.