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Tariffs prompt new US PVC flooring investments


Avoiding new U.S. tariffs on imported PVC flooring from China are part of the reason behind two separate investments in new factories in the United States, executives with both firms said.

A new joint venture company, Lico U.S., has invested $10 million in a manufacturing plant and distribution facility in the Wisconsin, and has plans to increase capacity.

And Roppe Holding Co., the parent firm of vinyl and rubber flooring brands Roppe and Flexco, has bought a 500,000-square-foot facility near its current site in Ohio, in the city of Fostoria, to house a new corporate headquarters and manufacturing and sales operations.

For Lico, the facility is a joint venture between Switzerland's Li & Co. AG and the Neenah, Wis.-based Acoustic Ceiling Products LLC (ACP). It will open with one extrusion and milling line but plans call for adding two more as volume justifies, ACP President Rob Rebman told Plastics News in an email.

"It will be a pioneer in the sense that Lico U.S. will be the first and only domestic manufacturer. All other rigid PVC flooring is manufactured in Asia," Rebman said. "Advantages to U.S. manufacturing processes include better lead times, avoiding tariffs, Swiss quality and technology, and that it is made in the U.S."

On Sept. 24, the President Donald Trump imposed a tariff of 10 percent on certain flooring products imported to the U.S. from China. The tariffs, which take aim at rigid core flooring, luxury vinyl tile and engineered-wood products, are scheduled to increase to 25 percent on Jan. 1.

Rigid PVC flooring is considered a step up in production from luxury vinyl tile, which is currently made in the U.S. at various sites.

An executive with Roppe also gave the tariffs as one reason for their new investment in the United States.

"We will be uniquely positioned to avoid the production constraints and pricing uncertainty non-U.S. flooring manufacturers are facing today," Bart Rogers, RHC vice president of sales and marketing, said in a news release. "

"Acquiring this facility is part of our long-term business strategy to be the leading provider of domestically manufactured high-quality resilient flooring products and accessories," he said.

RHC will use the new facility for its vinyl and rubber wall bases and accessories, such as stair treads, as well as to support is manufacturing partner, Seoul-based Nox Corp., which is focused on luxury vinyl tile. Nox supplies tile to major brands and does not sell products under its own name.

The new facility also will have a training and technical center for sales and service employees, retail and distribution partners and architects, designers and contractors.

Roppe and Flexco flooring sells mostly to the commercial building market.

As for Lico, it will begin operations in Wisconsin with two facilities. Manufacturing equipment is scheduled to arrive in February, Rebman said.

Lico will hire 16 full-time employees to cover three shifts on the manufacturing line while current ACP staff will take on sales, marketing and accounting, Rebman said.

Privately held and in business for 25 years, ACP manufactures and distributes decorative backsplash, ceiling and wall products for residential and commercial customers made from vinyl, ABS and various thermoplastics. Rebman said expanding the product offering with flooring was "the obvious next step."


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