Graton, Calif. — Thermoformer Empire West Inc. has introduced 100 percent recycled PVC ceiling panels as its newest Ceilume-brand product line.
While most Ceilume tiles and panels are white, the new recycled line comes in shades of random gray, said President Ed Davis.
Even in a single shipment, content of the manufacturing scrap, rejects and return product can vary the color in the rolls of PVC that Empire West uses in thermoforming the recycled panels. No color or dyes are added in making the recycled panels.
Davis maintains that the batch-to-batch variation can make the recycled ceiling "truly unique" in appearance.
With care for cleanliness, Empire West granulates its post-industrial PVC scrap in Graton and contracts with Nan Ya Plastics Corp. USA to transform the PVC granules into rolls at a plant in Wharton, Texas.
The reuse converts the material into a finished product rather than having the scrap go to a landfill, he noted.
Empire unabashedly reaches out to educate the public.
About 20 years ago, the firm created — and continues to post — online "thermoforming tech academy" content to acquaint prospects with all technical basics of the process.
"We needed to educate customers," Davis said.
In 2011, Empire scored with The New York Times small-business columnist Kermit Pattison, who reported on its use of online video to deliver the Ceilume marketing message, often to the do-it-yourself market.
Empire's on-site video studio enables Davis to create YouTube messages. "We've got more than 3.5 million views on our YouTube channel and find that it is a good way for folks to get to know us," he said.
Upon request and within the contiguous U.S., Empire West will ship three full-sized sample tiles to a prospective customer wanting to check out the product.
Empire West says it operates the only manufacturer-owned ceiling design center in North America as a resource for interior decorators. The Portland, Ore., showroom of about 3,000 square feet employs three and opened in 2012.
On the professional side, Empire markets to architects, engineers and other members of the Construction Specifications Institute of Alexandria, Va.
Currently, Empire West is talking with Atlanta-based retailer Home Depot Inc. about marketing Ceilume in regional store displays with limited stock inventories. After examining samples, customers could place phone orders directly with Empire.