Vixen Composites LLC, a sister company to privately held Dicor Corp., Elkhart, Ind., plans to start manufacturing lightweight composite side panels and structural components for the RV and other industries by the end of summer.
“Our intent was to determine if we could scale up technology to a size that had applications in not only the RV industry but other markets that use similar structural and aesthetic components,” said Dicor President Gregg Fore, who also is president of Vixen.
Vixen last week received $224,000 in property tax abatement over five years from the Elkhart City Council. Approval of the tax abatement also made Vixen eligible for $320,000 in state incentives, including tax credits and training grants.
Vixen, which will occupy a vacant industrial building on Elkhart’s northwest side, will employ 34 people by 2012 after $6.1 million in equipment is installed later this year.
“It’s all about being lightweight,” Fore told RVBUSINESS.com. “The target was to be 10% lighter than current product that is being used. On wall panels, we’ve exceeded that target.”
He said Vixen sidewalls will be marketed to RV manufacturers and others that make high-gloss finished products.
“The same basic product that can be produced off this equipment has applications in the marine industry, step van and commercial truck markets and the military,” Fore said. “The common denominator is that it’s a lightweight structural product that has no wood, will not absorb water and will not mold. It fits a lot of applications because of that. There are identifiable differences between this product and what other products do.”
Installation of equipment will be completed by the end of the second quarter.
“It is primarily existing technology that has been scaled to a size with some new technology mixed in,” Fore said. “We don’t know that any company anywhere is producing it on this scale. If we had found someone who was, we would have bought the company.”
Dicor is a supplier of synthetic roofing and related components to the RV industry in addition to decorative wheel covers. Another “associated” company, United Shade LLC, manufactures and distributes interior window coverings to the RV industry while another company, Alta Resources LLC, markets windshield wipers for the construction and agricultural markets along with remote motor controls.
Yet anothr Dicor-assocated firm, Seal Design LLC, designs and distributes a wide variety of sealant products to the step van and RV builders.
All Dicor-affiliated companies are located in Elkhart.
“If you look at our products, you don’t see a lot of them that are related,” said Fore, who is on track to become chairman of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) in October. “We look for opportunities in markets that we understand and then find the right people and partners to move ahead.”