The recession not only forced builders to tighten up ship and take a closer look at company balance sheets, but also shed new light on the need for truly sustainable construction. “It actually made the building community – both in the residential and commercial sides – pause to say we can’t keep doing more of the same,” explains Gary Brown, executive vice president of marketing for Amvic, a Toronto-based manufacturer of insulated concrete forms (ICFs), rigid foam insulation, flooring, wall systems and other highly efficient building materials.
“As a manufacturer, our goal has always been to develop desirable products that promote sustainability, energy efficiency and healthy living for inhabitants, but it’s not always the easiest thing to sell, especially when the perception among builders is it’s going to cost more,” says Brown.
Post-recession, Brown says he’s seen renewed interest and desire despite cost among everyone from custom homebuilders to developers and architects to engineers, in building to a higher, sustainable standard; something Amvic has been aiming for since inception.
Filling a hole in the ICF market
The concept for Amvic originated with company founder and president, Dr. Victor Amend, who came to North America from Europe in the late 1990s. “With a Ph.D. in building science and project management experience in multifamily, industrial and commercial construction, Victor moved to Toronto in 1998 and began looking for a new home,” recounts Brown.
He was interested in purchasing a concrete home due to advantages in lasting value, energy efficiency and structural strength, but after months, his search came up short. “He couldn’t find anything like they had in Europe, so he was forced to purchase a wood-framed brick house,” shares Brown.
“Victor saw the lack of alternatives as an opportunity to provide the market with a green home building process, such as ICF, making concrete construction more efficient,” continues Brown.
After researching the existing ICF market, he concluded that the industry lacked an energy efficient product that encompassed quality, strength, innovation and ease of installation. That’s where Amvic was born.
“When we first examined the ICF industry, two areas for improvement became very apparent,” says Amend. ”
First, we observed contractors using a terrific amount of time to assemble products on the job site. Secondly, once assembled, these products performed poorly when filled with concrete. We have designed our forms to eliminate these two problems.”
Brown, who worked with General Electric for 20 years in product innovation, says Amvic’s founder is always looking for the next best thing. “His scientific mind is always in search of a desirable product that makes a difference,” says Brown. “Victor took his construction knowledge to fill a hole in the market by starting a company that manufactures expanded polystyrene [EPS] insulation.”
An Amvic evolution
Amvic’s innovative products have steadily taken off in the U.S., Canada and beyond. Today, the company spans the U.S. from Nixa, Mo., to Charlotte, N.C., Salt Lake City to Post Falls, Idaho, as well as Anchorage, Ala.; also with international locations in Mexico, Ireland, Romania and Russia.
All of Amvic’s ICF and EPS facilities are equipped with top-of-the-line machinery, ensuring the highest quality, consistent manufacturing. The company’s exceptional network of facilities also enables Amvic to deliver products promptly anywhere in North America.
“We currently employ approximately 75 people, but we’re growing,” says Brown. “Amvic has evolved from a product that would normally just be used by contractors and homebuilders into commercial applications for schools, hospitals, hotels and do-it-yourself consumer products for homeowners. We now target a wide range of both professionals and consumers.”
Taking innovation to the next level
More and more professionals and consumers are turning to Amvic ICF for double-duty performance. Amvic ICF serves as both a concrete form and internal and external insulation with two panels of expanded polystyrene held fast with ridged plastic ties that readily accept rebar. The stackable blocks go up quickly with patented reversible FormLock interlock technology, making for user-friendly construction with minimal waste.
But Amvic hasn’t stopped there; Brown says the company has just recently released its Amvic Plus 3.30, the third generation of ICF. “Amvic has taken ICF innovation to the next level,” he says. “When we first introduced ICF it had an R-value of 22, now Amvic Plus 3.30 is achieving R-30; its way ahead of the curve and the highest R-value of any factory assembled block in the industry.”
Beyond ICF, Amvic is also working on improving building from the ground up with new flooring products, as well, including its newly released Insulated Radiant PEX panel (PEX) for radiant heat floor systems. The Amvic Insulated Radiant PEX panel has been specifically designed to provide the most cost-effective installation and performance characteristics for hydronic radiant floor heating systems, starting with the most advanced automated EPS moulding equipment in North America.
The combination of expanded polystyrene insulation moulded to high impact polystyrene film makes for a strong, resilient interlocking, energy efficient PEX panel. “We just recently introduced PEX and it’s already a clear winner as far as potential,” assures Brown.
Brown says Amvic keeps striving for innovation, despite economic setbacks. “We’re coming out of a tough market in the last four to five years, but we weathered the storm relatively well,” he shares. “Our ability to develop products that actually fit the mold during the downturn helped see us through.”
Now that the storm has almost passed, Brown says there’s an even larger space for Amvic ingenuity in the building world and the company is exciting to join other major players at Greenbuild 2014. “Greenbuild has helped to bring the need for sustainable solutions front and center and opened the door for companies like us to showcase products that really will help sustain the environment and the industry,” adds Brown. It’s out with the old and in with the new and Amvic is leading the charge.
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