Texas businessman Tom Chambers founded the precursor to TerraCORE Panels in 2002. Headquartered in Dallas, TerraCORE is an internationally recognized, cutting-edge, reinforced wall panel cladding system that incorporates the natural beauty of large-format porcelain, granite, marble, limestone, travertine, onyx and sandstones with an array of CORE materials. TerraCORE introduced its newest product at the AIA Conference in Atlanta. This is a Lightweight Honeycomb backed Kynar 500 finished metal panel. The system features a Light Weight Honeycomb backed panel and also includes other various substrates which provide enhanced durability, unparalleled impact resistance, water impenetrability, significant weight reduction and lower project costs.
“TerraCORE panels is mostly focused on what goes on exterior and interior walls as well as on floors,” says Chambers. “There are very few companies that do what we do and there are certainly a number of benefits from having TerraCORE used in a sustainable building.
Chambers has been involved in the stone-related building products industry since 1999. When he noticed a honeycomb product that was being installed at a Hilton that he was working on in Houston, Chambers became intrigued. “We were in the process of building the Hilton Garden Inn, and I was introduced to this very lightweight honeycomb stone,” says Chambers. “I immediately realized the significant advantages of the stone because it was extremely light but 60 times stronger than full-dimensional stone. From that point on it was a very simple decision; I started an initial company that would later become TerraCORE.”
Among the many obstacles that accompany building a business from the ground up, Chambers faced the challenge of creating awareness of the product. At the time of the launch of TerraCORE, only one manufacturer of reinforced lightweight stone cladding existed in the U.S. “The biggest issue we face today is the lack of awareness of the Lightweight Honeycomb backed panels,” says Chambers. “My mission has been to educate architects, contractors and designers that natural stone does not need to be cumbersome, heavy or difficult to install.”
Chambers has traveled extensively in his efforts to market his product. “I go into architectural firms and present the product as another option for an exterior or interior surface material,” says Chambers. “When designers recognize the advantages of lightweight honeycomb-backed stone, large format porcelain and Kynar 500 finished panels, they immediately add it to their pallet.”
The strength of the stone and porcelain that TerraCORE produces is appealing to architects who are interested in the aesthetic exterior of buildings. “One thing about stone is that it does not wear out,” says Chambers. “Stone will last forever on a building while giving it a classical or contemporary look.”
As a member of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), TerraCORE is contributing to the sustainability industry. By educating architects and engineers on the products and services the company provides, TerraCORE has helped create structures that have exponentially decreased the cost of construction. By using a TerraCORE system, the amount of steel and concrete required in the framing of a building decreases due to the lightweight aspect of the honeycomb-backed stone.
“Decreasing the amount of raw materials ties into the LEED and green building plans as it reduces the load on the environment,” Chambers explains. “Fewer materials means fewer trucks and more sustainability.” Though Chambers is creating awareness for the products that TerraCORE produces, it is by no means a new technology. “This Lightweight Honeycomb backed system, has been around for almost 50 years. I think it’s great that the USGBC has helped people to focus on these things again.”
TerraCORE also performs renovation and interior work. Due to the light nature of the TerraCORE system, the product can be attached directly to the existing structure. This method is increasingly effective in the renovation process when elevators are involved. “It’s perfect for elevators since it is so light in weight and does not require a recalibration,” says Chambers.
One memorable project for TerraCORE involved the interior renovation of an office building for Jamestown Properties at 535th Avenue in New York City. “It was an old building from the 1950s and the lobby area was very dark and dingy with old dark marble,” says Chambers. “We went in and completely changed it into a beautiful, light-colored Portuguese Limestone.” After performing some minor work to the exterior of the structure, the office building was sold for a substantial profit.
Through developing a market for the TerraCORE system and educating the industry on its benefits, Chambers credits the success of his company to his employees. “The team of people I work with gives me the biggest sense of pride,” says Chambers. “I am very proud to be a part of a company that is considered the number one company in the world at creating this product. Our team is always looking at new products and ways to innovate.”
As the company progresses into the future, TerraCORE Panels will continue to be a leader in the industry.
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