Robust Business Fuels Viracon Expansion

"Our business is so robust that we have to expand our existing operations to respond more quickly," Don Pyatt, president of Viracon told USGNN following the announcement yesterday that the company plans to build a new $25 million facility as well as expand its Owatonna, Minn. and Statesboro, Ga. facilities.

He also pointed out that the company will be able to product more insulating glass and laminated glass when the tempering ovens are installed.

Russ Huffer chairman and chief executive officer of Apogee, Viracon's parent, added that once all the expansion is in place, the company will have a 50 percent improvement in capacity since the beginning of the last fiscal year.

Huffer makes the point that with AFG and Interpane exiting the coating market, $50 to $60 million worth of business is up for grabs. "We won't get all of it," he said, "but we are expanding."

"Viracon will product with these expansions that the glasses those coaters will product in a year will save three million barrels of oil every year for those buildings," Huffer said. "At $60 a barrel, that's $180 million in energy saving every year. That gets people's attention."

"The coating units we got from AFG and Interpane have been completely refurbished," Hoffer said. "The new coaters available are good, but they are designed for residential applications that can make a lot of a product. Our need is different. We have to make smaller numbers of more sophisticated products," he explained.

In announcing the construction of a plant in the southwest, the Viracon executives said only that the plant should begin operating in about 18 months. Questioned further, Huffer said that the company is in the site selection process with a real estate company and it is looking in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico, "that quadrant." He projected that a decision would be made by March 1, the beginning of the company's fiscal year.

Viracon built its Owatonna facility in 1970 and its Statesboro facility in 1998.

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