Volume 8, Issue 11 - December 2007

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company news
Quanex to Separate Building Products 
from Vehicular Products Business 

Houston-based Quanex Corp., which owns TruSeal Technologies, Mikron Industries and Homeshield, has announced that it will spin off its Building Products business to its shareholders as a stand-alone company called Quanex Building Products in a taxable distribution. All Quanex shareholders of record will receive one share of Quanex Building Products’ stock for each share of Quanex stock.

In addition, Quanex, consisting principally of the Vehicular Products business, including its MACSTEEL division, and corporate accounts, has signed a definitive agreement to merge with a wholly owned subsidiary of Gerdau S.A. in exchange for $39.20 per share in cash. This merger will take place after the spin-off of the Building Products business has occurred.

Quanex Building Products, as the Building Products business will be known, will be 100-percent owned by Quanex shareholders and is expected to trade on the New York Stock Exchange. Raymond A. Jean will become chairman and chief executive officer of Quanex Building Products and the current senior leadership team of Quanex will join him.

“We spent considerable time evaluating strategic alternatives and have determined this is the best course of action, as the businesses will benefit from greater strategic focus and capital flexibility, offer exciting opportunities for employees, and deliver compelling value for shareholders,” Jean says. “Shareholders will realize significant value in cash through the merger of Quanex with Gerdau, and they will continue to participate in the growth prospects of Building Products through ongoing ownership in this business.”

The merger of Quanex by Gerdau S.A. remains subject to approval by Quanex shareholders, clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, the Exon-Florio Provision and other customary closing conditions. The transactions are expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2008.TruSeal president Gus Coppola says he does not expect this to affect the company’s customers in any way.

“Let me assure you that customers will not see any change in their relationship with Truseal as we transition to the new structure,” Coppola says. “You can expect this to be a seamless process that ensures customers will continue to receive the same high-quality products and service that they have come to expect from us.”

He also notes that it is an exciting time in the company’s future.“Looking ahead, we are very excited about what this change in structure means for Quanex Building Products,” he says. “As a company concentrating purely on the Building Products space, we will be even more focused on bringing customers new and value-added products and enhancing customer service levels. We will also have the financial strength to ensure that we can weather various market cycles and continue to grow our business in attractive ways within the residential construction and remodeling markets.”

MI Windows and Doors Closes Georgia Facility
MI Windows and Doors Inc. plans to close its Millen, Ga., window fabrication facility.

“Our decision to close the Millen facility has been extremely difficult,” says Matt DeSoto, president, Eastern Division of MI Windows and Doors. “Anytime we affect team members and their families by eliminating jobs it comes with much concern and anxiety. The decision is not a reflection of how our team in Millen has performed, rather a necessary reaction due to the current downturn in new home construction.”

The company will be redeploying the assets in Millen to its other window fabrication facilities in the eastern portion of the United States.

Atrium Announces Branch Closings in Florida
The Dallas-based Atrium Cos. Inc. has announced that it is shifting its business model in Florida from a builder-direct to a traditional distribution channel strategy. As a result, the company will close five of its six sales and distribution branches between now and the end of first-quarter 2008. The company will maintain its Davie, Fla., operation and continue to operate its Atrium Shutters business out of that location.

“With housing starts in Florida dropping by 70 percent in the last two years, we believe our long-term reach to the market is best served by focusing sales efforts through independent distribution,” says Bob Burns, chief operating officer of Atrium. “Challenging market conditions across the [United States] and particularly in Florida have required us to make adjustments to our current business model. With this change to our Florida infrastructure we are well positioned to meet short- and long-term sales plans moving forward.”

The first branches to transition will be Ft. Myers, Vero and Orlando. The last two will be Tampa and Jacksonville.

The realignment will affect the current workforce. “While this decision is necessary to keep in line with the company’s operational strategy and continuous need to address a shifting market, we regret it anytime when operational adjustments result in displacing employees,” adds Burns.

Therma-Tru® Receives Award From Popular Science
Therma-Tru’s® Tru-Defense™ Entry and Patio Door System has received the 2007 Best of What’s New Award from Popular Science magazine. The high-performance system was cited in the home technology category for offering builders and remodelers a high- performance door solution for damaging weather and harsh conditions.

Tru-Defense is designed to work together to protect homes from severe weather, according to the company. Therma-Tru’s Tru-Defense certified entry and patio doors have an air, water and structural performance rating of DP-40 or higher, according to the company, and the complete door systems are independently tested, and certified by the National Accreditation and Management Institute (NAMI).

Novatech Named Canadian Energy Star® 2007 Advocate of the Year
The Government of Canada, through Natural Resources Canada and the Office of Energy Efficiency, awarded Novatech Glass Group Inc. the title of Energy Star® 2007 Advocate of the Year – Specific Product on October 29.This award was presented to Robert Latour, vice president of sales and marketing, and Luc Deschambault, vice president of finance, by Cassie Doyle, deputy minister of Natural Resources Canada, at the Government Conference Centre in Ottawa.

Nordson Facility Named Best Plant Finalist
Nordson Corp.’s Swainsboro, Ga., manufacturing facility was named a finalist in Industry Week magazine’s 2007 Best Plants competition. The Nordson plant was recognized as one of the top 21 plants in the United States. The facility produces ProBlue adhesive melters, dispensing guns, modules and nozzles. 

Established in 1990, the annual competition recognizes plants with a focus on enhanced customer satisfaction and creating stimulating and rewarding work environments. The competition encourages manufacturing managers and work teams to emulate the honorees by adopting world-class practices, technologies and improvement strategies, according to Nordson. 

Entrants are judged on criteria including: proactive environmental and safety practices; operational improvements; agile production systems; supplier partnerships; customer focus; employee empowerment; quality systems; management practices; and manufacturing capability.

AAMA Updates Document Addressing Sealants
AAMA 800-07, a voluntary specification covering test methods for sealants, has been released by the American Architectural Manufac-turers Association (AAMA). According to Ken Brenden, AAMA technical standards manager, the revamped 30-page document, first published in 1992 and titled Voluntary Specifications and Test Methods for Sealants, includes several updates.

This specification is a compilation of standards and test methods for determining the performance of both compounds and tapes used in the manufacture and/or installation of windows, sliding glass doors and curtainwalls. Sealant specifications in this publication include back-bedding compounds, back-bedding mastic tapes, glazing tapes, narrow joint seam sealers, exterior perimeter sealing compounds, non-drying sealants and expanded cellular glazing tapes.

“The most significant change was the addition of sections for performance requirements covering slump and extension/compression and a section on the test method for hardness evaluation,” says Brenden.

A note was added regarding testing of Group A and C compounds and offered a choice of test methods.

Part of this testing may provide insight on sealant durability and performance. A second note explains how the specimen requirements were derived for lap shear strength with exposure. This value was increased to be consistent with uniform structural load test requirements of AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S. 2/A440.

A third note was also added to caution the user that it is required to determine chemical compatibility to the substrates in the application, as sealants used in the installation of fenestration products can adversely affect the substrates and other compounds used. New figures also were added to demonstrate lap shear preparation and testing. 

The Vinyl Institute Responds to Negative Press
The Vinyl Institute (VI) expressed disappointment in early November over news that Target Corp. is reducing its use of PVC for packaging and children’s products.

According to VI president Tim Burns, the news report attributed the move largely to concerns over lead in vinyl products. “This appears to be driven by fears over imported products containing lead, which have had high visibility in the news this year. Lead does not have to be used to make vinyl products, and it should be deliberately avoided in packaging and products for children,” Burns says.

Lead can be used as a stabilizer for vinyl products, but its use has dramatically fallen as vinyl manufacturers have turned to other stabilizers based on calcium, zinc and barium, according to VI.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has tested for lead in imported bibs and lunchboxes and concluded that the tested products were not likely to harm children. Nevertheless, VI expressed concern over the findings, pointing out that importers need to set and enforce quality control standards on the materials in their products no matter where they come from.

“Vinyl products have proven themselves safe and important in endless ways over the years,” Burns says. “All the opinion data we have seen shows that consumers want and rely on vinyl products. We believe Target knows this and will continue to act accordingly.”

Deceuninck North America has launched the Accelerated Startup Assistance Program for its fabricator customers, which includes both engineering and technical support services. The company says the new program will coordinate and track all aspects of customer start-up and will streamline workflows, reduce complexity and costs and eliminate unnecessary processes.


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