A Maine-based manufacturer looks for ways to expand business west of the Rockies
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.