Bryan H. Fairbanks has spent more than 17 years at publicly traded composite decking manufacturer Trex Co. Inc. of Winchester, Virginia. He’s been president and CEO since April 2020.
Fairbanks received a Bachelor of Science in accounting from the University of Dayton and an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh. He worked for 10 years in senior finance roles at Ford Motor Co. before joining Trex in 2004 as director of financial planning before moving into roles overseeing international business development and the company’s supply chain. He became chief financial officer in August 2015.
Fairbanks joined Gov. Asa Hutchinson and others in October at the Little Rock Port to announce a $400 million plant that will eventually employ 500 people.
Tell us about the new plant. What products will you make there? And what’s the projected timeline for construction and production?
The new Trex campus in Little Rock will sit on nearly 300 acres and will include buildings dedicated to decking and railing production, plastic film recycling and processing, reclaimed wood storage, warehousing and administrative offices. Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2022. The development approach will be modular and calibrated to demand trends with the first production output anticipated in 2024. The campus will substantially expand output over time and will have the potential to be the company’s largest manufacturing facility.
Why locate at the port? What are the particular advantages for your company?
After researching several potential locations, Little Rock emerged as the best fit for Trex’s immediate and future needs with a location closer to essential raw materials, a strong pool of qualified and skilled labor, proximity to key growth regions for wood conversion, and adjacency to major transportation hubs that will offer optimized freight costs for customers in the middle of the country now served by facilities in Virginia and Nevada.
Adding capacity also positions the company to better serve its distribution and retail partners domestically and abroad. Little Rock also is a vibrant, welcoming city that offers a wonderful quality of life to attract top talent locally, across Arkansas and from other parts of the country. We are excited by the prospect of being in a location with the space, infrastructure and support to grow with us.
What are your strategies for meeting workforce needs in a historically tough labor market?
Trex always works to be the employer of choice in every geography in which we operate. We do this by offering market-leading wages and benefits, a culture of mutual respect, and embracing diversity of backgrounds and perspectives. For those who seek challenges in their careers, they will find Trex to be particularly rewarding as our growth affords our team members numerous paths of career progression through a combination of training and experiential learning. We also offer programs like tuition reimbursement and encourage continuing education plans across all of our functional disciplines.
What advantages do composite decking have over traditional wood decking? What materials go into your product?
Trex composite decking offers nothing but advantages over wood. Manufactured using 95% recycled content, it delivers the look and feel of real wood without the environmental impact. Its superior durability resists fading, staining and scratching and it won’t rot, crack or warp over time. Best of all, you never need to worry about sanding, staining or painting. Just an occasional soap-and-water cleaning is all that’s needed.
How are you dealing with the rising costs of materials?
Trex has been impacted by increased costs of raw materials, labor and transportation. Across almost all industries, these inflationary impacts have resulted in higher consumer pricing. Since the end of September, we have seen inflationary trends moderate, however.
Why do you expect strong demand for your products? Has the pandemic affected demand in any way?
The decking category has experienced explosive growth during the past several years, and we anticipate sustained strong demand for products across the outdoor living category in 2022 and beyond as consumers continue to adjust to new ways of living and in making their homes more comfortable and functional. Outdoor areas, in particular, are becoming larger and/or more elaborate. We are also seeing more consumers embracing and seeking out the benefits of low-maintenance materials, which is positively impacting demand for composite decking.
What’s the right market for your product? Is it high-end residential? Are there commercial uses?
A Trex outdoor living space can be a reality for virtually any setting or budget. We offer a tiered portfolio of composite decking options available at varied price points, all designed to deliver premium performance suitable for both residential and commercial applications. All Trex composite decking options are made from 95% recycled material and are backed by the company’s 25-year limited general and fade and stain warranties.
You’re also building a new global headquarters in Virginia. What’s powering all the growth?
It’s definitely an exciting time for Trex. Following decades of steady growth, we continue to experience and anticipate strong demand for our industry-leading decking and railing products driven by growing consumer interest in outdoor living. These expansion initiatives are strategic investments to help ensure we have the capacity and resources to meet the needs of our customers while affording us bandwidth to pursue new opportunities.