With its headquarters in Wells, Maine, Wasco Skylight Products Inc. has opened a new manufacturing facility in Reno, Nev. The additional location is producing both standard and custom skylights for the commercial and residential market, and expanding its distribution west of the Rocky Mountains. The company expects to send its first shipment from Reno by the end of the month and is planning an open house later this summer.
Founded in Maine, Wasco has cultivated a strong reputation as an innovative, American manufacturer with nearly 80 years of industry and community leadership. Since the 2007-08 recession, the company has enjoyed more than 60% growth, and 20% growth in 2012.
Wasco leased the new 57,000-square-foot facility located at 6645 Echo Avenue in Reno. Situated within one day’s journey from every major city in the western states, this market represents about 26% of all construction spending.
“We predict significant sales in the first year at the Reno facility, based on our customers’ positive response and the strong potential for growth,” says Jeff Frank, CEO of Wasco. “We’ve created a unique, energy-efficient skylight product line that’s perfect for the western region’s desire for sustainable daylighting solutions in high-end residences and high-performance commercial buildings.”
Sara Havard, Wasco’s COO, elaborates, “Building on our success, the new manufacturing plant positions us closer to our western customers so we can deliver commercial unit skylights within one week from order and residential orders within 72 hours.” Custom unit skylights account for a significant portion Wasco’s business and typically ship less than two weeks from order receipt in Reno to delivery at the customer’s site, which represents the shortest lead times in the industry.
As part of its ongoing plan for continuous improvement, Wasco moved in 2011 from its prior facility in Sanford, Maine and leased a 100,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility in Wells. Embracing just-in-time operations, the company’s leaders made multi-million dollar capital investments in high-tech, automated manufacturing equipment and estimating systems to increase efficiency and boost productivity. Its engineering staff also was doubled to work hand-in-hand with customers throughout the U.S. on developing daylighting solutions for their individual projects. Wasco has also added a dedicated research and development engineering staff.
Drawing from Wasco’s experienced East Coast team, plant manager Michael Jones and customer service representative Jeff Binette have relocated to Nevada. They will focus on maintaining the company’s emphasis on high-quality manufacturing and customer satisfaction. At this time, up to 20 employees from the Reno area also will be hired. More will be added to accommodate future production.
Additional staff also is expected to join the operations in Wells, Maine. Wasco will continue to make its own vinyl extrusions for skylight frames in Maine and ship them to Reno for assembly.
Chad Gibson, product manager with Allied Building Products’ corporate purchasing team, says that the company “is a proud distributor of quality Wasco skylights. At Allied, we strive for manufacturing partners who deliver excellence in product, industry leadership, integrity and performance. Wasco is exactly that kind of partner, and their new Reno facility will ensure their best in industry delivery!"
Steve Dean, Cardinal Glass’ plant manager and Wasco’s long-time supplier, adds, “Wasco's expansion into Reno is very exciting for us. We've been doing business with Wasco since we opened our Wilkes Barre facility. To see them grow and expand to the West Coast, especially during these times, is a great sign of the quality of this company."
Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope’s Perrysburg’s sales manager, Douglas Dewar, also notes, “Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope has been a partner to Wasco for many years. Knowing the success of their business allows for continued growth is very exciting. Our team wishes Wasco Product’s all the best in this new expansion.”
James Satterwhite, global commercial manager for Cabot Corporation’s construction market, agrees, “It’s a testimony to the management and the employees of Wasco to have facilitated such growth in the recent economy. The addition of a western U.S. fabrication base will make their truly unique solutions to the current and pending ASHRAE mandates available to a region that lives and breathes the culture of sustainable practices in building design and construction.”
Satterwhite continues, “Locally fabricated Eco-sky unit and custom fabricated skylights both made with Lumira® aerogel should be a winner in creating demand in the region by offering solutions to the daylighting dilemma around area restrictions confounded by daylighting metrics, Wasco and Lumira aerogel is a proven winning combination already. The new regional expansion will certainly build on that.”
About Wasco’s Energy-Efficient Daylighting Solutions
- Lumira aerogel – This represents a major breakthrough in insulating technology. Wasco skylights with Lumira aerogel are considered the highest performing daylighting product available on the market today. By adapting aerogel technology to practical, everyday solutions in fenestration products, Lumira products diffuse sunlight while acting as an environmentally sound thermal insulator.
- EcoSky – This glare-free unit skylight bathes the space in natural diffused light and provides three times the thermal performance of competitors. EcoSky3 meets IECC 2012 requirements in all climate zones.
- The Dynamic Glazing Series:
- SageGlass® – This electronically tintable glass can be switched from clear to a dark tint at the click of a button, or programmed to respond to changing sunlight and heat conditions. SageGlass products offer significant advantages compared to conventionally glazed products because they provide the highest possible solar control without sacrificing the view through the glass, while helping reduce energy consumption and costs.
- SCHOTT ASI® – This photovoltaic module is based on advanced, thin film technology that guarantees outstanding performance even with low sunlight levels.
- Solera® – This line of translucent insulated glass units is used in architectural daylighting to provide the highest quality diffused daylight. Solera converts harsh direct beam sunlight into soft diffused daylight, while allowing the desired light level.
- Solera with Lumira aerogel – This daylighting strategy dramatically improves thermal performance, while providing the freedom to design to virtually any specification in standard framing.
- Parans Solar Lighting System – This captures sunlight with Parans Solar Receivers on the outside of the building. Optical fibers transfer the sunlight through the building structure and deeply into the indoor environment.
- Hurricane and Blast Resistant Skylights – This responds to the changing climate and security threats.
- Composite Materials – This currently is being researched by Wasco as an alternative to aluminum framing, which will provide stronger, lighter and longer spans.
About Wasco Skylights
Headquartered in Wells, Maine, Wasco Skylights is a leader in bringing the outside in, providing a full line of commercial and residential skylight solutions for standard or customized installations. With a focus on ease of installation, Wasco is known for the most extensive green, sustainable, energy-efficient product line, innovative and customized designs with reliable long-life performance and overall value.
Wasco and its staff are active members of their professional and local communities as board members, volunteers, sponsors and supporters of:
- American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) and its Skylight Council,
- Jobs for Maine’s Graduates mentorship program,
- Junior Achievement of Maine’s board of directors,
- National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC),
- Sanford-Springdale Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors,
- Sanford-Springdale YMCA’s capital campaign,
- United Way of York County’s annual campaign and board of directors,
- York County Community College’s advisory board, capital campaign and foundation,
- York County Youth Financial Education Fund’s advisory board,
- and more than 20 years as holiday party hosts for under-privileged children.
Wasco Skylights will open a new manufacturing facility in Reno, Nevada, by next April in hopes of expanding its distribution west of the Rocky Mountains and keeping pace with industry giant Velux, company CEO Jeff Frank says.
About 5% of Wasco's business now comes from the dozen states west of the Rocky Mountains, Frank says, a market that represents about 26% of all construction spending.
Wasco, founded in 1935 as a flashing company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, currently produces a line of residential and commercial skylights from a single plant in Wells, Maine. (For Martin Holladay's review of Wasco skylights, see New Green Building Products.)
The manufacturing plant needs to be near its customers
Some 45% of the company's business is in custom skylights, but Frank says Wasco is too far from Western markets to get standard products to buyers on a competitive timetable.
"If you look at residential skylights, you need to have it to the guy's door in two days," Frank says. "Velux has kind of driven that. They guarantee 48-hour delivery anywhere in the United States. For me to make it in Maine, and ship it to Seattle, I'm going to have six days of freight in there. It's kind of a snowballing effect."
Frank says he hopes to have a new plant operating by April 1. It will produce both standard and custom skylights. The company is currently looking for a building of between 40,000 and 50,000 sq. ft. and plans to hire 10 people or less to start.
Reno is a "perfect location," Frank says because it is 900 miles or less from all major west coast markets and is a transportation hub for that part of the country. Wasco will continue to make its own vinyl extrusions for skylight frames in Maine and ship them to Reno for assembly.
Today, two companies, Wasco Skylight Products and Evonik Cyro, announced a partnership and, together, unveiled a revolutionary new green, glare-free unit skylight that bathes the space in natural diffused light. Known as EcoSky3, these skylight units offer superior thermal performance for cradle to cradle designs by incorporating a 10mm Lumira™ Aerogel panel with Acrylite® Satin Ice.
Wasco’s Lumira™ aerogel is a major breakthrough in insulating technology. It provides a tremendous thermal insulator that is also environmentally sound. The gel permanently stops connective, conductive, thermal transfer without an appreciable drop in light transmission.
Evonik Cyro‘s Acrylite® Satin Ice is an innovative acrylic sheet that is impact modified, infrared blocking, light diffusing, and 100% haze white.
“This partnership with Evonik Cyro, and the unveil of EcoSky3, makes us a pioneer in the green skylighting businesses, and is a strategic next step for Wasco as we broaden our extensive range of solar and daylight solutions available for commercial and residential installation,” said Jeff Frank, CEO of Wasco. “This relationship comes on the heels of Wasco’s partnership with Parans Solar Lighting, and is part of our effort to expand lighting product offerings in the realm of green and energy efficient design and construction.”
The EcoSky3 skylight will be showcased at the 2012 Greenbuild International Expo, the world’s largest expo devoted to green building. Attendees who visit Wasco’s booth will view the EcoSky3 units firsthand, and learn more about applications for environmentally friendly industrial design and building projects.
For more information about this new partnership and the new EcoSky3 unit skylight product, visit Wasco’s booth (#414S) at the Greenbuild International Expo, Moscone Center, San Francisco, California on November 14 and 15, 2012.
This revolutionary system penetrates the depth of a building to bring full spectrum sunlight to areas never before touched by the sun
Through an exclusive partnership with Sweden-based Parans Solar Lighting, Wasco Skylight Products is proud to announce that the revolutionary system that brings full spectrum sunlight into areas of a building never before touched by the sun, is now available in the U.S. through Wasco’s network of dealers and its professional services group.
This lighting alternative, replacing artificial light with natural light, is proven to increase productivity by 16% and lower overall carbon emissions. To accomplish this, the patented Parans system tracks the sun and transfers it via fiber optics to inside environments and through specially designed luminaires(s). The system is fairly compact and easy to install. Pricing varies based on use and other specifications.
The Parans system has been enthusiastically embraced by the architectural community, building owners, and even the residential market. “Parans fills an important void in the daylighting industry by bringing full spectrum daylight to interior spaces of buildings,” notes Keith Sportack of Pace Representatives, a leading firm that represents construction manufacturers. “The Parans system can bring natural daylight and all its amazing benefits to spaces even four floors below. Best of all, optical fibers transfer sunlight through the building’s structure so energy efficiency is not compromised.”
Current applications include general offices and conference rooms, health care facilities, government buildings and shopping malls, among others.
Recently showcased at LIGHTFAIR® International 2012, the world’s largest annual architectural and commercial lighting trade show and conference, the Parans Solar Lighting by Wasco was very well received. “We are excited about the response we have received since the product launch at LIGHTFAIR®,” states Wasco’s CEO, Jeff Frank. “We are receiving calls daily from businesses and homeowners interested in bringing natural light into their environments and keeping all the health benefits of vitamin D intact.”
Wasco has worked on solutions for sun lighting for over 75 year and understands the importance of the sun’s impact on health and wellness.
For more information about the Parans Solar Lighting by Wasco, visit www.wascoskylights.com/commercial/parans. Available for download is a product brochure, specifications and installation instructions. To get a quote or to spec out the product, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-388-0293.
Dating back to Roman times, openings to allow natural light into a structure were an essential feature in architecture. But by the mid-twentieth century, due to the availability of cheap electricity and the popularity of fluorescent lighting, windows and other openings to the sky were no longer needed to illuminate interiors. Building codes that once required natural illumination changed to comply with the times. Consequently, new commercial and industrial buildings were designed with deep floor plans to maximize space and reduce construction costs. Daylight came to be viewed as an impediment to energy savings and a hindrance to a uniformly lit environment. But that perception is changing as studies reveal the triple bottom line benefits of increased daylighting.
Daylighting is the use of openings and reflective surfaces to take advantage of both sun and skylight to provide natural illumination to a building interior. And it is gaining favor as companies search for ways to save money on energy costs, reduce their carbon footprint and keep workers happy, healthy and productive — all at the same time.
When integrated with artificial lighting controls, daylighting can significantly reduce lighting costs while providing high-quality illumination. Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, the nation’s premiere R&D facility for energy-efficient technologies, reports that lighting costs account for 35% to 40% of the total electrical energy consumption in commercial buildings and recommends daylighting as the most cost-effective strategy to reduce these costs. The National Institute of Building Sciences estimates that daylighting can reduce total building energy costs by as much as one third.
Daylighting can not only save money in reduced energy costs, it can generate income in the form of increased sales. Anecdotal accounts of the positive effects of daylighting on sales were given credence by two carefully designed studies commissioned by the state of California and conducted by the Heschong Mahone Group. In both studies, researchers found the introduction of daylighting through the placement of diffusing skylights increased retail sales in a particular chain store by an average of 40%.
These are some of the reasons retail giant Wal-Mart has made a commitment to include daylighting in its 200-300 newly constructed or converted facilities each year. Almost 600 Wal-Mart Supercenters, SAM’S Clubs and Neighborhood Markets integrate artificial lights with daylighting strategies, resulting in an annual savings of about 250 million kilowatt hours a year. According to the company, that’s enough electricity to power approximately 23,000 homes. Based on an internal study, Wal-Mart has concluded that it uses 25% to 35% less electricity than its competitors. Numerous other companies have followed suit, including Maine’s Hannaford, whose new Augusta store makes extensive use of daylighting and recently achieved LEED platinum status — the highest rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Common concerns associated with replacing artificial light with daylight are glare, insufficient illumination, heat loss and solar heat gain (warming of the interior through sunlight). All of these issues can be addressed by tailoring a daylighting solution to the specific needs of a business and selecting high-performance products. In Maine, for example, solar heat gain is less of a concern than it would be in Florida, where cooling costs far exceed those for heating.
With the focus on green building and daylighting as an important component, the industry has made great progress with technological advancements such as the Lumira™ aerogel skylight (formerly Nanogel® aerogel), which provides an insulating value almost equal to that of an exterior wall without a significant reduction in light transmission. Lumira™ aerogel-enhanced skylights are up to six times as energy efficient as conventional units and provide an abundance of glare-free, full spectrum diffused light.
Less tangible, though no less important, benefits of daylighting include its impact on worker productivity and health. Studies have found a direct correlation between exposure to daylight and mental alertness, productivity, psychological well being and even physical health. As we move deeper into the digital age, spending a disproportionate amount of time in front of computer screens, finding ways to reconnect us to the natural environment grows increasingly more important.
And finally, complementing electric lights with daylighting reduces a company’s impact on the environment. In the state of Maine, about half of all electricity is produced by burning natural gas. Although as a fossil fuel natural gas is considered to be cleaner than coal or oil, it still has a significant impact on the generation of greenhouses gas emissions. Methane, the principal component in natural gas, is 21 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. The U.S. Energy Information Administration cites Maine as the only New England state where industry is the leading energy consuming sector. Strategies such as daylighting that help reduce electrical demand could help put Maine on a path towards a more sustainable economy, while providing direct benefits to the companies who lead the way.
An old friend of the glazing contractors is Wasco Products located in the small town of Sanford Maine. This family owned skylight company was established in 1935 and is still in the same place it’s been for decades. They brought the term “Made in Maine” to mean something in the skylight industry. Wasco has kept up with and many times challenged our industry with bold new approaches to natural daylighting, a true tradition in excellence.
One such challenge was a building in downtown Aspen, CO. The general contractor asked for glass skylights with no glare and a low pitch but with a 90 pound snow load. The previous manufacturer he spoke with would not build it less than an 8:12 pitch, which was rejected by the designer.
The call to Wasco products was placed and their in house engineers went to work. They completed the shop drawings and the engineering calculation and had them on the desk of the contractor within a few weeks. The city of Aspen approved the drawings and Skylight Specialist Inc. installed two beautiful Wasco skylights. The owner of the building loved the new additions and the general contractor liked the way Skylight Specialist Inc. and Wasco Products worked to deliver what the customer wanted, even all the way out here in the west.
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