PLATTSBURGH — Schluter Systems has received preliminary approval for a 73,343-square-foot expansion in the Town of Plattsburgh.
Ed Martin, controller at the company’s Plattsburgh offices, said the plan results from the explosive growth of its revolutionary Kerdi-Board product.
Production of that item started in Plattsburgh in 2010 and has reached more than $4 million a year since then. UMS Manufacturing, a wholly owned subsidiary of Schluter Systems, manufactures Kerdi-Board using a $6.2 million machine.
Martin said the company is expected to start a second shift to keep up with the demand for the product.
“We have created 51 jobs this year already,” he said.
The new employees have been trained in Kerdi-Board manufacture and are employed elsewhere on the Schluter campus until the second-shift work starts.
There are now about 185 employees in Plattsburgh and another 35 who travel to promote the company and its products.
Kerdi-Board is a piece of extruded foam with each side covered by Schluter’s Kerdi waterproof membrane. It can be used to make walls, partitions or as a foundation for vanities, counters and even support for a bathtub, which can then be covered with the tile products of choice.
It is available in flat panels or pieces with grooves that allow for L-shaped, U-shaped or curved applications.
Martin said the company is introducing a new 5/8-inch thickness that is expected to be popular in commercial applications because that size is commonly used for sheetrock.
Schluter Systems wants to increase its inventory of Kerdi-Board so it has a five- or six-month supply to carry it through equipment breakdowns.
Also on the property is a 17,160-square-foot facility where SSF Production LLC, a partnership between Schluter and Selit, manufactures the extruded foam. Seilit uses the foam for an underlayer for its hardwood-flooring products.
Martin said SSF is also looking at a possible second shift, to keep up with increased demand for the foam by both companies. Selit has ordered a second extruding machine, he said, which is about a $2 million investment.
The addition will also have space to store the increase in materials used to make the various products. Martin said they plan to build to that large size to allow for continued growth, rather than having to do another addition in a few years.
If Kerdi-Board sales continue to grow, UMS may bring a second manufacturing machine to Plattsburgh. Martin said that could happen sometime in the next 10 years, if, as expected, they need to start a third shift.
Schluter continues to offer classes to show contractors how to use their products. That has nearly doubled to an average of one a month, with about 68 contractors at each class.
SOLD AT CHAINS
Home Depot has sold Schluter products for a number of years. Lowes recently came on board with a large order for tile profiles.
“The big-box stores have really started to see the light,” Martin said.
Schluter came to Plattsburgh in the mid 1990s. The first office and warehouse space at the present location opened in 1990.
In 1996, the company had 12 employees and sales of $4.4 million, mainly its large line of metal tile accessories that protect edges and help secure tile.
By 2011, sales of its tile accessories and related products, like Kerdi-Board, had increased to about $70 million in the United States and Canada.
AIDED BY GRANTS
Plattsburgh Town Supervisor Bernie Bassett said it is interesting that even during tough economic times, the company continues to grow. The town has been able to help that growth by helping obtain state grants to assist with expansion.
“They’re a very industrious group,” he said.
Internationally known companies, such as Schluter, Fujitsu and APG Neuros, bring a lot of attention to Plattsburgh, Bassett said. Visitors such as those who take the classes at Schluter also bring money to local hotels and restaursants.
“It’s a good company to have in the Town of Plattsburgh. They’ve been a good company to the community.”
The expansion plan still needs Planning Board approval of a detailed preliminary plan and a variance from the Town Zoning Board of Appeals for lot coverage.
Email Dan Heath