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Vast Enterprises to turn recycled tires into Firestone roofing pavers

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Vast Enterprises is best known for turning scrap tires and other recycled materials into composite masonry products. Now, a company best known to most people for its brand of tires is going to be turning Vast's products into a line of commercial roofing pavers.

Firestone Building Products, one of the world's largest suppliers of commercial roofing materials, announced last month that it's selected Vast as the exclusive manufacturer of its new Firestone SkyPaver composite roof pavers.

The private-label partnership is a big sign of acceptance for Vast's technology, and it also gives the company broad entry in the growing green-roof market. Vast CEO Andy Vander Woude says they'd like to see the Firestone work be a $10-million piece of business by 2015.

Vast was founded in 2006 and introduced its first line of products a year later. It makes deck and landscaping pavers from 95-percent post-consumer recycled material, largely plastic and tires. About a year ago it started seeking out customers to use its pavers on rooftops.

"We've had two very diametric market forces out there," says Vander Woude. "The first is explosive growth of green building. The other diametric force is the complete bottoming of the construction industry."

Vast has managed to grow throughout the construction downturn, through not as fast as it may have under better conditions, says Vander Woude. One bright spot has been green roofs; the market for them grew by more than 15 percent in 2009, and it's not just for environmental reasons. Building owners are also trying to maximize usable space by making roofs habitable.

These projects require a walkable surface be installed on the roof. Clay brick and concrete pavers are heavy and can be difficult to work with on rooftops. Vast's pavers weigh about one-third as much as conventional masonry products, making them a compelling option for green roofs.

The company, which was founded in 2006, employs nine people at its headquarters in Northeast Minneapolis and another six at its manufacturing facility in Crystal. The company is nearing completion on a round of financing and will likely hire more employees next year.

Source: Andy Vander Woude, Vast Enterprises
Writer: Dan Haugen
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