Succeed Together Innovation Through Materials and Logistics Surface & Panel

Succeed Together: Innovation Through Materials and Logistics

It is fitting that Roland Boulanger & Co. Ltd. a well-established manufacturer of moldings, components, and related items, is pioneering the widespread use of Premeer enhanced oriented polypropylene (OPP), an innovative decorative surfacing material recently introduced into the North America market by Interprint USA.

Established in 1942 as a regional window and door manufacturer, the Warwick, Quebec-based company has undergone constant evolution in its product offerings, materials selection and distribution system. Boulanger is family-owned, privately held and vertically integrated, with seven production facilities and 350 employees. Internally Boulanger has a motto, Succeed together. It relates to a company culture of teamwork, pride in work well done and strict standards that ensure consistent quality. We are resolutely focused on innovation, says Alexis Boulanger, President and CEO of Boulanger. Our mission is to constantly seek out new ways to better meet the needs of the commercial and industrial markets, while fully complying with global quality standards for our field. The early adoption of Premeer, a very versatile, durable OPP overlay is a reflection of that mission. Premeer can be flat laminated as well as profile-wrapped, and it is available in a variety of base weights, making it a suitable surfacing material across many product lines, which in turn makes it possible for Boulanger to offer customers a wide variety perfectly matched solutions.

CORE COMPETENCIES AND RELATED PRODUCTS

We are first of all a producer and manufacturer of decorative moldings, says Judith Boulanger, Marketing Director for the company. We have eight molders, two profilers, and many options for materials and finish, depending on what the customer specifies. Moldings are typically offered in unfinished eastern white pine, which Boulanger processes through its lumber mill, or specially formulated MDF from Uniboard or Flakeboard that can be finished via profile wrapping or coating. Molded polyurethane is also an option for heavy patterns.

Boulanger leverages its in-house molding and wrapping capabilities to produce several related product lines. Our paper wrapping plant is dedicated first toward the RTA furniture industry, and then to kitchen cabinets, says A. Boulanger. We also do wrapped moldings for our retail market. Additionally, the company manufactures exterior door jams with PVC films from Renolit. More recently Boulanger launched a line of flat-laminated ceiling panels called Embassy, and started producing composite five-piece doors as an OEM. We converted all our standard paper-wrapped products from pre-impregnated papers to the Premeer OPP, says A. Boulanger. We’re very pleased with the technical quality of the Premeer product as far as finish and durability. We can use it for all our related products and have perfect matches throughout.

Boulanger’s geographic location, customer bases and core capabilities have shaped the way the company goes to market. While the majority of Boulanger’s market share is in Quebec, Ontario and the Maritimes, its distribution is well established throughout Canada and into the United States. We have two kinds of customers, explains J. Boulanger. We sell to building materials retailers, like the box stores. This is more of the national distribution. And we also sell to the industrial side, providing our products to other companies to sell under their private label, which brings us more into the United States.

Our molding products come in 7, 8, 14 and 16-foot lengths, so they are somewhat awkward to transport, says A. Boulanger. So that is why molding manufacturers are often also distributors. And because our customers are retailers across the country that get weekly orders from us, there is added value for them if we also deliver complementary products. Some of these diversified products, such as siding and flooring, are made by other companies; but Boulanger also develops products in house that bolster the company’s portfolio. The latest of these innovations, Embassy suspended panel ceiling systems, has proven to be extremely popular in the short time it has been on the market.

NEW PRODUCT, NEW MATERIAL

Introduced in 2010, Embassy is a suspended ceiling concept that gives consumers an alternative to standard drop ceilings. One advantage that Embassy offers is ease of installation. The unique system utilizes plastic railings and anchors that may be installed with as little as 1.75 inches of clearance between the joists and the ceiling. Compared to the 6-8 inches a typical drop ceiling requires, Embassy ceilings add a great aesthetic to a room and makes it feel more spacious at the same time. The panels are wrapped in Premeer and available in standard white, maple or coffee. The vast majority are white, says A. Boulanger, The shaker style is very popular. But surprisingly there is quite a bit of coffee sold too. It is often used for home theatre applications.

Luce Boulanger, Purchasing Manager for Boulanger, started investigating enhanced OPP material several years ago. We had been using pre-impregnated paper laminates for all of our paper wrapping, says L. Boulanger. But we had been testing OPP for the Embassy product because people often put the ceilings in basements, and in this part of the world there is a lot of humidity in that environment. OPP has very good moisture resistance. We were about to make the switch for 2012 when the original supplier closed. Embassy is popular, so we had to find a new supplier of OPP very quickly.

Based on an industry reference, L. Boulanger connected with Interprint, a Pittsfield, MA dcor paper printer. At the time Interprint was actively developing the value-added processes necessary to bring the OPP-based product Premeer to the decorative surfacing market. For those familiar with the use of OPP in food packaging, it is important to clarify that Premeer is made from an enhanced version of oriented polypropylene. The substrate is a specialized OPP film supplied by Applied Extrusion Technologies Inc. (AET) called SynDECOR, which includes a functional layer developed to chemically bond with the glues that are commonly used to adhere decorative surfaces to board. This means that Premeer is compatible with all common waterbased laminating or hot-melt systems. The enhanced substrate is also UV-stabilized to ensure a long lifecycle of the material.

The easy value-added for Interprint was the application of its in-house capability for photo-realistic rotogravure dcor printing. SynDECOR is smooth and non-porous, so when ink is applied via laser-engraved cylinders it sits on the material without spreading out, resulting in high-definition design clarity. But it is not enough to look pretty. Prospective customers, like Boulanger, require a decorative overlay that can provide superior moisture resistance. To that end Interprint worked with MinusNine Technologies to develop a protective coating that is cured via an electron beam system. The industry standard NEMA Water Hold-Out test confirms that even after 72-hours, Premeer protects particleboard, MDF and HDF from moisture damage.

We started using Premeer in the spring of this year, and in fact it is a product that we love working with now, says L. Boulanger. In addition to using OPP for Embassy ceiling panels and wrapped moldings, Boulanger offers the product as a material option for its 5-piece door customers. The printing is one of the reasons why we changed to Premeer, says L. Boulanger. Interprint can match anything, and the quality of the printing is better than what we had in the past. L. Boulanger reports a growing interest in composite 5-piece doors in the Canadian markets, and thinks there is a lot of opportunity for the future. It is a beautiful product. It can be made more inexpensively than the wood counterparts and is more durable.

Over the past 70 years the Boulanger family has fortified its core business as a manufacturer of decorative moldings by delivering a broad portfolio of related products throughout North America. Driven by the mission to consistently meet the evolving needs of its commercial and industrial customers, the company is also bringing innovative new materials and concepts to the marketplace.


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