Window design has become an integral part of residential and commercial architecture, in many cases defining the structure’s personality. Aesthetically pleasing, today’s window choices are far more exciting than in years past. But no matter how attractive a window appears, what matters more to savvy consumers than appearance is window performance. No one knows this better than TruSeal Technologies.
“We are part of a huge industry – the sealants and adhesives industry,” says August J. Coppola, president and chief executive officer of Beachwood, Ohio-based TruSeal. The company has a nearly 30-year heritage and its $80 million in annual sales places it well within the top 50 in the sealants and adhesives industry – which has more than 800 companies worldwide.
TruSeal’s products and technologies are used by more than 1,000 worldwide manufacturers of insulating glass. Besides residential and light commercial window products, TruSeal flexible spacers are used in such wide ranging applications as high-speed trains, automobiles, buses, commercial freezers, solar panels and refrigeration units. Ninety percent of its business is focused on the insulating glass (IG) market. It is the largest IG sealant and spacer system manufacturer in North America, selling more than 4 billion feet of TruSeal flexible spacer worldwide. The remaining 10 percent of the company’s business is in private-label products using its expertise in butyl science and extrusion technology. In this latter category, TruSeal has working relationships with notable partners such as DuPont and BP Solar.
TruSeal’s market standing is based upon Swiggle® Seal, its revolutionary new product which it introduced to the market in 1979. “Swiggle® Seal really changed the process by which insulating glass wholesalers and makers of windows fabricated insulating glass,” says Coppola. “It went from a very complex parts-and-pieces approach to just applying our all-in-one product to glass and quickly having an insulating-glass product to use.”
Prior to the introduction of Swiggle® Seal, most window makers had to purchase their insulating glass from IG wholesalers. “Our product made it possible for window makers to control their own destiny, and they no longer had to worry about long lead times,” Coppola says. Swiggle® Seal’s warm-edge technology delivers up to 9 degrees more warmth, heat savings of up to 5 percent and 80 percent less condensation than conventional cold bar spacer. In that revolutionary tradition, TruSeal continues to introduce new products incorporating the latest technologies for greater efficiencies. At the international interGLASSmetal/FENESTRATION World 2001 trade show last November, TruSeal introduced two more products that “will change the face of insulating glass from performance and productivity standpoints,” says Coppola.
Insuledge™, made of composite laminate technology and a proprietary molding process, will be the warmest warm-edge product in the world used in the manufacturer of insulating glass. Insuledge™’s thermal performance will be enhanced through the use of a non-metallic, dual- or single-seal composite spacer. “This product will increase energy efficiencies and will dramatically reduce condensation,” says Coppola. The second new flexible spacer, DuraSeal™, uses unique materials and breakthrough continuous composite manufacturing processes. Offering a high-performing spacer system at a competitive price, it reduces thermal conductivity and is “designed to be one of the highest-productivity spacer systems available on the market today, when combined with automated application equipment,” Coppola says.
These two new products demonstrate TruSeal’s commitment to taking itself from a one-product company to a business focused on flexible spacer technology. “Flexible spacer technology is what will propel our business in the insulating glass industry worldwide,” says Coppola. He also notes that these products will “leapfrog” the competition globally.
Manifesting Its Destiny
Originally known as Tremco Inc. of Cleveland, TruSeal was founded by William C. Treuhaft as a roofing materials company during the Great Depression. In the late 1970s it began manufacturing sealants for the window industry. Coppola was a general manager for Tremco when the Window Markets Division was sold in 1997. “It was a management-sponsored buyout with a good capital partner in Kirtland Capital Partners,” he explains. “When we bought the business, we knew that Swiggle® Seal had a very good long-term success. As our market share continued to grow, our customers began wanting to differentiate their product offerings and came to us requesting new properties in a flexible spacer. Working closely with customers individually and in focus groups, we were able to develop our ideas to create high-performing insulating glass spacers for today’s modern residential and commercial needs.” Today, about 95 percent of TruSeal’s customers are OEM
TruSeal is also a distributor of products that complement its own product offerings. “We evaluate this segment carefully to ensure we bring the best possible quality and value proposition to our customers,” Coppola says.
“What’s unique about our business is, we provide solutions to our customers by understanding what their business needs are and putting together a program that includes the right spacer system and application equipment to make the best use of their product and manufacturing practices. We not only want our customers to be happy with our product. We want them to use it in the most efficient way possible,” he adds. “We have the only all-in-one flexible spacer systems available on the market used to make IG. We have many touch points with our customers and we help them understand what the best practices are in the IG industry.”
TruSeal has 20 sales representatives and 10 technical service representatives iin North America who frequently contact customers. It also worksclosely with equipment vendors, component suppliers to the industry and others to ensure the highest level of customer satisfaction.
The company markets its products directly or through licensees in more than 50 countries. Already a market share leader in the Americas, TruSeal is targeting Asian, European and Chinese markets to continue to win market share internationally. Its more than 300 dedicated and enthusiastic employees are committed to that purpose. “We employ people who have a good business sense and who can relate well to our customers, because customer contact and customer service has been the key to our success,” Coppola says.
“We believe Insuledge™ will offer the European market a unique value proposition because right now in Europe, there isn’t a cost-effective flexible spacer system available,” he continues. “The IG market there is dominated by the traditional cold-bar aluminum spacer technology, and we believe that market is overdue for the warm-edge system we offer.”
Although the business has grown at an annual rate of 6 percent over the last two years, TruSeal was off to an even better start during the first quarter of 2002. “From what we can determine, we are well ahead of the curve compared to the ompetition,” Coppola says. “The U.S. housing market is really one of the pillars of the overall economy, and we will take advantage of every opportunity we can in residential markets. As long as they continue to build homes at a record pace, we hope to add new customers at an equally record pace.”