Missouri firm plans Anchorage fabrication plant

Company makes environmentally friendly wall, roof building systems

Posted: Tuesday, September 13, 2005

ANCHORAGE - The president of a company that makes an environmentally friendly wall- and roof-building system plans to build a manufacturing plant in Anchorage that could employ up to 100 Alaskans.

Russ Wright, president of Missouri-based Stoam Industries, says the prefabricated building system saves builders time and building owners money.

He plans to build a Stoam manufacturing plant in the Anchorage area and he's aiming to open it by April.

"I'm not interested in getting a contract up here and shipping it up," he told the Alaska Journal of Commerce. "I'm interested in being part of the community."

Wright designed a prefabricated wall and roof system that combines structural steel framing and polystyrene foam insulation into one product. The system leaves room for utilities and can be used in both commercial and residential settings.

Working with the Anchorage Economic Development Corp., Wright was in Anchorage last month to meet with builders, transporters and other businesses that may use the product.

The Army Corps of Engineers invited Wright to explore opening a plant in Alaska, in part to prepare for the military's movements toward modular housing projects, Wright said.

"They wanted a building system to where they could build it, live in it for 10 or 15 years, then move it somewhere else," he said.

Alaska also could serve as a distribution point for international customers, Wright said.

The system works best in extreme weather conditions, saving upward of 60 percent in heating and cooling costs, Wright said. The insulation factor is R-30 in the wall and R-40 in the roof. A 1.5-inch thermal break prevents heat and cold transfer through the steel and serves as backing for outdoor finishes, he said.

The product can be used for buildings up to three stories and can be made with precut doors and windows, he said.

It takes three people 36 hours to put together a 3,500-square-foot house, Wright said. That could save builders money compared to traditional framing methods.

Wright said that instead of wood, he uses recycled steel for framing. Insulation is produced from petroleum and natural gas byproducts.

"It takes 40 trees to build a 2,000-square-foot home," Wright said. "It takes four recycled cars to build the same house using my product."

The product also has a fire retardant and is resistant to bugs, termites, mold and mildew, he said.

Wright estimated his company would spend about $3.5 million to build a 50,000- to 80,000-square-foot manufacturing plant.

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