MasterGrain Lays Groundwork for Growth

August 11, 2009

Entering the U.S. fiberglass entry door market at the beginning of this year, Ontario-based MasterGrain has steadily expanded its product line and sales force, and has added a U.S. distribution center in Ohio, reports Ken Kussen, business manager for the unit of Weber Manufacturing Technologies Inc. It is now focusing on extending its cherry door line due to its initial success in the market place, and looks to grow its overall sales as the economy begins to recover.

“Since its introduction in March, we have received great enthusiasm on our cherry door products,” Kussen states. “We have found our cherry products outsell our mahogany and oak products two to one.” Customers appreciate the warmth and attractiveness of the native North American wood species, and because cherry wood is far more readily available than mahogany, it allows homeowners to complete a cherry theme throughout their home, he states.

MasterGrain’s initial offering included three- and six-panel designs in oak, mahogany and cherry grains. “The response to our new line was much better than we anticipated considering the state of the current economy,” Kussen notes. One reason for that success is the enhanced look of the fiberglass doors, achieved using a nickel vapor deposition tool making process developed by Weber, MasterGrain’s parent company.

Grained fiberglass doors are traditionally developed using standard tooling processes including "acid etching" of the mold cavities, he explains. Great efforts have been made improving the artwork required for this process, however, the two dimensional nature of the artwork limits the toolmakers ability to replicate the three-dimensional nature of real woodgrains.

Handwork preparation on the nickel shells used to mold doorskins enhances the grain and removes imperfections.

Weber’s process enables MasterGrain to actually transfer the three-dimensional nature of wood into mold cavities, Kussen says. “The process begins by actually building a real wood door with select wood species, then by cast silicone processes we are able to accurately capture all of the grain from the door. A silicone-coated mandrel is placed into our nickel vapor deposition chamber where, through a chemical reaction, nickel powder is vaporized then deposited onto the mandrel at the molecular level. The final nickel shell has similar strength properties as mold steel allowing fiberglass skins to be mass-produced for our doors and doorlite frames.”

The technology was also used to develop all tooling for Wayne Dalton’s 9800 Series fiberglass clad garage doors, including its new Sonoma Cherry Door. Nickel shells are also used in automotive interior applications where leather and other unique textures are replicated into tooling used in many premium car lines.

“With the initial limited product offerings, we believed MasterGrain Products could be an extension to our customers existing product line,” Kussen states. “Many of our customers are promoting our doors as a high end offering to complement their standard textured fiberglass and steel door offerings.”

MasterGrain is currently expanding its range of door designs.

In addition to expanding its cherry offerings toward the beginning of next year, Kussen points out that MasterGrain has completed the National Fenestration Rating Council certification process for its products. With the ratings achieved, most of the company’s products can be used in door systems qualifying homeowners for the federal tax credit for energy efficient products.

“We are very excited about what the future has in store for us,” Kussen concludes. “With the initial groundwork our sales staff has begun, we feel MasterGrain Products will find our niche in this growing fiberglass market.”