Nearly defunct Albertan deck manufacturer back in black
Getting a second chance in business is rare and, having reaped some hard-earned lessons, Pultronex Corporation is determined to make the best of its new life in the highly competitive home deck market...
Getting a second chance in business is rare and, having reaped some hard-earned lessons, Pultronex Corporation is determined to make the best of its new life in the highly competitive home deck market.
Pultronex was founded in 1994 by Edmonton-based underground storage tank maker ZCL as a manufacturer of a promising new low-maintenance deck and dock system, E-Z Deck, made from pultruded glass-fibre reinforced polyester. Pultronex lost $14 million before being sold to a group of investors for $3 million in the spring of 1998. In its first, shortened, nine-month fiscal year under new ownership, Pultronex had over $2 million in sales and achieved its first profit, a little over $100,000. The company is on track for sales of about $4 million in the current fiscal year, and is projecting sales in the vicinity of $7 million for the year following, says Gary Loblick, president.
Loblick was hired by ZCL in 1997 to develop a business recovery plan for Pultronex. ZCL decided to sell the operation, however, before the plan could be implemented and Loblick decided to accept Pultronex’s offer to run operations under the new ownership. Loblick traces the company’s fledgling turn-around to new management practices and marketing strategy implemented since the sale.
“We’re selling directly to professional deck builders, rather than conventional lumber yard retail outlets, and this had made a big difference,” says Loblick.
The E-Z Deck system costs about $5/ft. to install, compared to 0.80 cents/ft. for a lumber deck. The price premium of the product dictated that E-Z Deck be targeted for a higher end market, where the up-front costs is not as great of a concern and the advantages of the product are better understood and appreciated, Loblick explains.
Pultronex has also greatly improved its production efficiency and reduced scrap, an achievement Loblick credits to the company’s embrace of team-style management. “We take advantage of all the skill sets and knowledge that exists in the company. We have an empowered staff on the floor that is highly involved in the day-to-day decision making.”
Loblick says the competition is intense in the deck market, where E-Z Deck is selling not only against lumber, but other alternative deck products made of PVC, recycled plastic and other materials. Still, Loblick says, independent tests have confirmed E-Z Deck offers better all-around performance.
“This product will outlast anything,” says Loblick. “It has a low coefficient of expansion, so you don’t have the buckling, warpage and splitting you get with other materials. It also, in my opinion, has a much better appearance than, say, deck made from recycled plastic.”
Poltronix has adopted a business strategy of diversifying its product line, with a goal of introducing one new product a year, Loblick notes. This year it is introducing a type of pultruded sheet piling that can be used for marine and fresh water sea walls.