An international roofing company gave customers and some local leaders tours of its new "flagship" facility near Hagerstown Thursday then cut a ribbon to mark its opening.
"It's first of its kind for our company," Derek Fee, manager of corporate communications for IKO, said of the facility.
"We manufacture different types of flat roofing products in Canada. But this one's really exciting because it's our entry into the U.S. commercial market. And this plant will have the capacity, when it's fully operational, to service the Eastern Seaboard and perhaps beyond."
IKO makes roofing, waterproofing and insulation produces for residential and commercial uses. The company was established in 1951 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and has been family-owned for four generations. It operates more than 35 plants and employs about 4,000 people across North America and Europe.
IKO invested some $70 million to expand and transform a former RadioShack warehouse off Western Maryland Parkway into its newest manufacturing and warehousing facility. About 40 people now work at plant which has a formal address of 160 IKO way.
'First of its kind for IKO'
"It's really pivotal for IKO, because it's the start of our growth in the U.S. market," said Guy Tremblay, the company's vice president of North American operations.
IKO makes shingles, like the roofing materials typically found on homes and other residential properties.
It also makes roofing for flat-roofed commercial buildings, such as stores, warehouses and other facilities. Those roofs are typically engineered systems that use an insulation board with a top ply to provide weatherproofing, Tremblay said.
"This plant is making the insulation board and the top ply, which is a polymeric membrane, which is new for us. It's the first of its kind for IKO," he said
That single-ply membrane is thermoplastic polyolefin, known as TPO.
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The Hagerstown facility brings in raw materials that are stored in silos and pumped to large machines that turn those into rolls of TPO roofing. The thickness can be adjusted depending on the application.
The plant also makes the insulation panels, which can be cut to different lengths and made to different thicknesses.
The products are moved from the manufacturing area to a warehousing section of the same building, where they are stored before being shipped.
The plant has been making those products for the past few months, but the company officially celebrated its opening Thursday.
CEO David Koschitzky thanked IKO employees, customers and local business and government leaders for their help in bringing the project to fruition.
He said that, in about three weeks, the company will be at another celebration to mark the renovation of its facility in Brampton, Ontario, Canada.
"I want to say that to the people from Hagerstown, because that's not really a grand opening. That's a reopening," he said.
"We built that original plant 60 years ago. We've been very blessed to be part of that community. (We) feel like we live there. And it's our hope and our intent that we will have the same long-term experience here in Hagerstown. We thank you for welcoming us in the way that you have."
IKO is a long-time supplier to the residential roofing marketplace in the United States, the company has reported. IKO opened its first U.S. asphalt shingle plants in Delaware, Illinois and Ohio in 1981.
"We've made a very big imprint in the residential business," Koschitzky said. "And with this, our flagship here we expect to start doing the same thing in the commercial business in North America."
Correction: This story was edited at 5:06 p.m. on May 16 to correct a typographical error in the word "shingles."
Mike Lewis covers business, the economy and other issues. Follow Mike on Twitter: @MiLewis.
This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail: IKO roofing cuts ribbon for new plant near Hagerstown