VSI Marks its 45th Anniversary and Looks to the Future with Two Words – WHAT’S NEXT?!
In 1978 (about 10 years after the first vinyl siding was hung – according to Sylvia Moore, Director of Technical Development, Shintech), a trade association was formed to advance the interests of the fledgling polymeric claddings sector. Their mission was simple: NO LIMITS. Igniting a spirit of unity, collaboration and fierce determination over the next 45 years, the Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI) would lead the way in helping their industry grow from 200 pounds an hour to 2,000 pounds an hour per extruder, and from 20 to 30 to 41 million “squares” to become the #1 cladding product in North America.
To support their explosive growth, VSI steered the vinyl siding industry through countless challenges and setbacks. With each hurdle, the vinyl siding industry rose above the fray to set new standards of excellence in performance, code development, product certification, workforce development and sustainability. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our 45th anniversary than knowing we are #1 in every category.
At this year’s VSI Annual Meeting (April 24-27 in Ft. Lauderdale), industry professionals both past and present will join to raise a glass to 45 years of struggles, triumphs and achievements. According to VSI President/CEO Kate Offringa, this year’s gathering will have a family reunion feel to it with a lot of special stories, reflections and tributes to so many wonderful people who have made the vinyl siding industry what it is today.
“I really feel that the Vinyl Siding Institute has punched above its weight,” Offringa beamed. “We may be a small trade association, but we represent a large industry with a huge influence on the homebuilding market. Throughout our history, VSI, its team and its member manufacturers have done amazing work.”
This amazing work Offringa refers to centers around the following key pillars of VSI that will be the hallmark of the 45th anniversary celebrations:
Technical Success in Code Development and Product Certification
Since the establishment of a voluntary standard in 1978 that would become ASTM 3679, VSI has always profited from strong industry support in the technical arena. It was this support that helped build a strong certification program and higher performance products from VSI’s member manufacturers. “We would not have our successes today without all the great technical work to lay the foundation,” Offringa noted.
“Testing had to be figured out,” said Pat Culpepper, retired President/CEO, Progressive Foam. “We had to determine how to test the long-term performance of our products in nature and once we understood how to test it, then the manufacturers went on to improve their products, the formulations of the materials and the profiles that took us to where we are today.”
The success of our testing processes gave VSI the confidence to confront building codes that were not favorable to our products.
“Back when I started with VSI, the codes were a cold, dark, mysterious thing – something to fear,” said Neil Sexton, Compliance and Technical Services Manager, CertainTeed, who chairs the VSI Code Development Workforce Group. “Through the many years of hard-fought battles and relentless efforts by VSI, we have become a proactive builder of good and just codes and a defender of affordable and performance-based claddings. We have become a force to challenge the establishments and just not to be reckoned with.”
Advocacy and Education
Around the same time VSI left the broader-based Society of the Plastics Industry to become an independent association, they launched a PR campaign with the tagline “America Sides with Vinyl” to confront negative misconceptions about vinyl siding. Being independent allowed VSI to focus on solving technical challenges and developing new standards, as well as expanding our advocacy and education efforts to:
- state legislatures to eliminate local bans on modern materials;
- the creation of VSI’s Architectural Development Programs (ADP) to enlighten and inspire architects with products that were structurally sound, beautifully designed and environmentally friendly; and
- comprehensive installer certification programs to give young professionals and seasoned tradespeople a clear path to lucrative and growth-oriented career opportunities.
Sustainability’s Deep Roots
Long before VSI released the industry’s first Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) in 2010, VSI members were continuously improving co-extrusion technologies to achieve manufacturing waste levels of less than 1%.
"Sustainability has a deep history in VSI and is one of our pillars,” Offringa said. “It’s not a stretch to say that VSI has earned its place in the ‘sustainability community.’”
What Offringa refers to – in addition to the years of work by VSI and its members – are the valuable resources utilized and the entrenched relationships VSI has forged with formidable sustainability partners to improve its industry’s carbon footprint. This includes the BEES software EC3 calculator used to measure environmental impact, the collaboration with Sustainable Solutions Corporation to identify vinyl siding’s continuous improvements in life cycle management and its growing relationship with Building Transparency and other groups dedicated to improving sustainability.
This place in the sustainability community also includes post-consumer recycling with the establishment of the Vinyl Siding Recycling Coalition Pilot Program that includes VSI, its member manufacturers and more than 10 recyclers, distributors and other groups invested in recycling. Since its launch in September 2021, the coalition has worked hard to develop a model program that other metropolitan areas and regions of North America can adapt to recycle post-consumer vinyl siding. This recent milestone is another example of VSI leveraging its long history of industry commitment and collaboration to blaze new trails of growth through partnership.
“VSI has been built on a really strong heritage of product certification, product testing and code compliance,” said Ralph Bruno, CEO/President, Derby Building Products, who serves as VSI’s current Board Chair. “This heritage has laid the groundwork for accelerating our foundational pillars of advocacy, workforce development and sustainability under our current leadership.”
A Bright Future
The anniversary festivities at the annual meeting will include an unveiling of a 45th Anniversary Timeline that highlights watershed moments during the first 45 years and the airing of a special video compilation featuring testimonials from VSI board, staff and committee members, and retired members and staff, including Jery Huntley, Former President and CEO of VSI from 1995–2014. In addition to reflections on VSI’s remarkable strides in each of the pillars, the witnesses all emphasize two common themes:
- The members’ ability to set aside competitive differences and join forces to advance the best interests of the industry.
- The future looking even brighter for the industry with the VSI board, leadership and team and a membership that remains true to their common values.
“Knowing the strong industry support and the amazing team we have, there really are no limits,” Offringa stated proudly. “To this we say ‘Happy 45th Anniversary VSI’ and ‘WHAT’S NEXT?!’”
Don Browne is a writer, entrepreneur and local legislator who believes that the power of words can change the world. He provides unique writing services for clients in the construction, health care, IT and hospitality sectors. He has a passion for small business and start-ups, as well as writing about Irish history, family and corporate biographies. As a homeowner and father of four who is passionate about community development, Don looks forward to writing more about the exciting possibilities of creating traditional neighborhoods and more sustainable communities using modern materials.