Building a Future for Distributors and Dealers of Building Products

Volume 44,  Issue 3                                        April 2005

Decking Up 
in Tampa

DeckExpo 2005 Opened Doors for the Deck, Dock and Railing Industry
     by Sarah Batcheler

The decking community of professionals appeared in Tampa, Fla., on February 2-4, for the third annual DeckExpo 2005. Attendees experienced cutting-edge products to produce better decks and docks, while exhibitors took the spotlight for their exceptional showcases. A variety of educational seminars were held on a wide variety of topics such as elements of deck design, crew management, pain-free organization and outdoor kitchens, among others. 

A dynamic keynote speech was delivered by Peter C. Lemon, a recipient of the Congressional Metal of Honor. “True Heroism is not a matter of chance; it’s a matter of choice,” said Lemon. He talked about the transition from military life to civilian life, while being a product of the 1960s. Lemon challenged the decking professionals to be proud of who they are, and proud to be American. 

In the Classroom
There were 23 educational seminars held throughout the three days which provided insight to many issues. Kim Katwijk, of Deck Builders in Olympia, Wash., gave a seminar titled “How to Be Small and Thrive.” There are many hats which a small business owner must wear to keep a business flowing. The key is to do what you do best, Katwijk said.

Darrin Haugen of Deckorators spoke to attendees of his seminar about creating effective marketing plans. Haugen stressed the importance of collecting data and the four P’s of marketing: product, price, place and promotion. 

An educational approach to the deterioration process of wood was delivered by Joseph Loferski, a professor in the department of wood science and forest products at Virginia Tech University. He guided his class through the process of decay of wood structures, and revealed the elements that aid in decay. Wood can vanish in five to 15 years when attacked by fungi, insects, mechanical wear, weathering and ultraviolet light, according to Loferski. Preservative treatments and decay detection was also addressed in the seminar. 

On the Exhibit Floor
The show floor was packed with companies demonstrating and exhibiting their latest products. It was 5 percent larger than the prior year, with 159 companies displaying in 26,400 net square feet of exhibit space, according to DeckExpo Inc.

“Our booth was new for this show specifically and demonstrated various rail systems, colors and installation. We were as effective in our 10x10 booth as others in booths 8 times as big,” said David Cook, of Engineered Plastic Systems LLC.
Norm Plumb of Deck Images had a positive response to the show. 

“We did not get a large number of leads; however, they were good qualified leads,” said Plumb.

Attendance Numbers
The turnout for the show followed a noticeable trend. There was a steady flow of visitors on the exhibit floor on Thursday, and the amount of attendees on Friday was sparse. 

“Attendance on the first day was well beyond expectations; the second day was a disaster. Being my first show I don’t know if it was directly attributed to the President’s visit or if the second day is usually slow. I do have concerns about going to three days if the amount of participants is not increased proportionately,” said Cook. 

The show floor was barer on Friday afternoon. This may have been because President Bush made a stop at the Conference Center after the State of the Union address to talk about the Social Security system. Although he did not speak until 4 p.m. on Friday, the surrounding streets were blocked off hours ahead of time. 

The Future for Decks and Docks
The Annual State of the Industry Report and 2005-6 Forecast Brunch was held Friday morning. A panel of seven experts of various aspects of the deck and dock industry reported to the attendees where their section of the industry was headed. 

Steven Bean of the Southern Forest Products Association talked about environmental concerns. 

“Every time a tree is cut, six are planted in its place,” Bean said. 

The dock industry is in healthy condition, according to Gary Johnson of ShoreMaster. With the growing number of retirees, docks will be increasing and offer special railings, such as handicap features. 

George Drummond, a contractor in Virginia Beach, Va., projected the deck market will go flat for a few years, based on interest rates and the clients’ perception that the rates are going up. The replacement deck market will take off, according to Drummond, because customers will usually opt for upgrades on their revised deck. 

Steven Weinstein of LP Building Products talked about low maintenance materials and pressure-treated wood. “This is a great time for composites,” said Weinstein. 

Kevin Seiling of Veka Innovations spoke from a mechanical engineer’s point of view. He said that 2004 was a soft year, but 2005 should be great because of political and industry factors. He also predicted a 20-30 percent growth in the PVC decking market. 

Darrin Haugen of Deckorators stressed the importance of marketing additional features such as handles and railings.

Kim Pohl addressed the audience with the message of the acceptable fasteners that need to be used to ensure the life of decks. Attendees of the breakfast were able to ask questions of the panel after the presentation. It was an excellent opportunity for attendees to anticipate the future for their companies. 

The Start of a New Association
The North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) held its first annual meeting at DeckExpo 2005 on Friday morning. The existing membership adopted bylaws and elected the initial board of directors. The mission of NADRA is to provide a unified source for the professional development, promotion, growth and sustenance of the deck and railing building industry in North America so that members can exceed the expectations of their customers.

The new Board of Directors consists of Michael Beaudry of Back to Nature Decks, Michael Butler of Deck Builders Inc., George Drummond of Casa Decks, Diana M. Hanson of Woodpile Construction/Woodpile Products Inc., John W. Mortimer of Sweetwater Deck Inc., Christy Packett of Culpepper Wood Preservers, William Schaffer of Conves Lindo and Rick Trottier of Correct Building Products LLC. Beaudry will serve as president of the association.

Sarah Batcheler is an assistant editor for SHELTER.

Innovative New Products on the Show Floor

Postsaver® Preserves In-ground Wood
Postsaver USA, of Kresgeville, Pa., showcased its non-toxic, environmentally-friendly barrier for both treated and untreated lumber. Postsaver provides protection for below-ground posts with its heavy-duty polyethylene boot, with the inside coated in bitumen. The product is shrink-wrapped on to the post, allowing the top of the post to be exposed to sunlight and air circulation. This protects the area most vulnerable to decay, just below the ground, according to the company. 

The heat-shrinking process liquifies the bitumen and drives it into the wood, providing a second moisture layer, according to the company. The polyethylene outer layer provides the tough physical barrier. 

Postsaver is designed to withstand post-driven installations and wood-destroying organisms found in the soil.
The boot is also useful for installation in cement because the alkaline nature of cement causes post deterioration, according to the company.

It must be installed with automated application machinery provided by Postsaver. 
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Oasis Deck and Rail Unveiled from Alcoa
Alcoa Home Exteriors of Pittsburgh, Pa., revealed its new wood composite and PVC deck system for building professionals. Oasis Deck and Rail provides a maintenance-free and durable alternative to wood, and is resistant to mold and mildew, according to the company. It has a unique pebbled surface to safeguard against slipping, but is gentle to the feet, which makes it ideal for porches, balconies, walkways, poolside decks and piers. 

The company’s booth was heavily attended at the show. “We received many positive comments on the aesthetics of the Oasis. Our formulation of fine woodgrain fiber and high-density polymers results in a higher color dispersion and less voids. People were really impressed with the product’s overall texture and quality. The market for composites is growing, and we have engineered a product to outlast and outshine wood and other composite decks,” said Kurt Forsthoefel, Alcoa Home Exteriors business development manager of deck and rail.

Available in a range of colors and accessories, it can accommodate any layout or design, according to company information. 
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Epoch Introduces Elements® Decking
Epoch Composite Products Inc. of Lamar, Mo., revealed the next phase of its extruded composite that features duo-finish, reversible boards that can be installed corded or matte side up. Elements decking is made from a combination of plastic and wood fiber, and requires only common tools and fasteners for installation, according to the company.

“Elements, together with EverGrain decking, enables us to expand our offering to our distributors, while also confirming our commitment to them and to the industry,” said Mick Whelan, Epoch’s vice president of sales/marketing/product development.

Elements carries a 10-year limited warranty against rotting, splintering and termite damage, when applied according to manufacturer’s instructions. It is available in three naturally weathering colors: Cape Cod grey, redwood or weathered wood.
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Build Railings, Lattices and Trellises with Picket Stick 
Mayco Precision Tools, of Placerville, Calif., showed a new tool to simplify the accurate construction of railings, trellises and latticework. The Picket Stick, which was designed by a contractor, keeps the top and bottom rails parallel during construction, while maintaining perfect spacing between pickets. It is ideal for stair rails because the angle is adjustable from 90 to 45 degrees, according to the company.

Lightweight and portable, it is constructed of chip-resistant powder-coated aircraft aluminum. The tool can be assembled quickly, and has a collapsed size of 3.5 by 2 by 96 inches for easy transporting and storage, according to the company. The product also works within Uniform Building Code requirements for picket spacing. 
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