American Vinyl Co., a compounding and extrusion company that increased its workforce 20 percent this year, is looking to double its space for storing raw materials and producing door and window profiles, pool hoses, and straps for patio furniture.
The Hialeah, Fla.-based company made flexible vinyl glazing when it was founded in 1966 by the late Eric Wiborg Sr. — a World War II veteran who had served with the Army Corps of Engineers.
High-tech silicones and other advances have made the original product almost obsolete, but sales for the current product lines are brisk, totaling $9.5 million, according to Eric Wiborg III, 25, a third-generation owner with his brother, Ryan Wiborg, 29.
That's up $2 million for the fiscal year that ended July 1, he added.
AVC says it is the largest manufacturer of vinyl patio strap in the U.S. Odds are if you've ever sat on a lawn chair made with soft vinyl straps you know the family's work, Eric Wiborg III, vice president of sales, said in a telephone interview.
Lately, sales of weave and synthetic wicker are picking up for patio furniture applications.
AVC also supplies vinyl tubing to spa companies, makes screen spline from PVC and proprietary variations, and is finding co-polymer extrusion to be a fast growing new sector.
Eric Wiborg Sr. set a good example of embracing change as opportunity. He was just 10 when he emigrated from Copenhagen to the United States with his parents and sister in 1931. He learned to speak English and fit into a new culture. He enlisted during WWII and served in the Pacific, where he built bridges and roads to set up strategic infrastructure. After the war, he got a sales job with an extrusion company and worked for commission.
“He was really successful in this [sales] role. He built up a loyal customer base and in a few years his paychecks began to exceed those of the company executives,” Wiborg said. “After they unilaterally cut his compensation, he decided to strike out on his own, eventually building a successful business.”
AVC's first focus was on the window and door industry. Company engineers and diemakers still customize complex flaps, channels and bulbs for customers in 15 countries in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean.
Orders for those comfy patio furniture straps took off early, too, and propelled the business to the next level: offering custom colors and compounds. AVC produces most of its 200-plus colors.
“My grandfather was really intelligent to do this vertical integration,” Wiborg said. “It's really difficult to get into compounding nowadays, and it makes us a stronger company. This integration allows us to pass our cost savings to customers and have total control over finished products.”
After Eric Wiborg Sr.'s sudden death, American Vinyl Co. was dissolved by his business partner. Sensing a void in the market, his three sons, Eric Jr., John and Bob, set out to follow in their father's footsteps. They formed Wiborg Vinyl Co. in 1982. Fifteen years later, the brothers decided to retire. They sold the business to a large textile conglomerate in 1997. But five years after that, Eric Jr. was bored. He re-launched AVC in 2002 and is the president. Eventually his two sons joined him.
AVC has 14 extruders and plans to add four more over the next year along with additional employees. This year's new hires filled manufacturing and administrative positions and brought the workforce to 35.
“Currently, our biggest constraint isn't sales but rather space and capacity,” Wiborg said, adding that AVC operates out of two locations in southern Florida that total 65,000-square feet.
The family would like to double the company's space. They need more room for raw materials for the compounding operation as well as finished products.