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Faux Wood and Foam-Based Products Get the ‘Green’ Treatment

It’s nice to fool Mother Nature.

So say the folks toiling away at the Miramar Place warehouse of The PCF Group, a home-grown manufacturer of “faux” wood and stone products for residential and commercial uses.

But PCF also has been courting the good graces of Mother Nature by becoming an Earth-friendly, green business, according to Vice President Scott Buckley.

“We started embracing this new movement,” he said. “We thought, ‘What should we do on the back end?’ ”

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First, PCF started examining how it was manufacturing its foam-based products, and started substituting ecologically sound practices, including replacing oil-based stains for water-based stains. PCF also invested in a $40,000 system from Korea to process its scraps.

“We invested in this machine that grinds it up, heats it up, puts it into ingot, and solidifies it back into a hard form,” he said. “Then, we send it back to Korea, and everything gets recycled back into picture frames.”

Being green also has proven to be good business, said General Manager Josh Degano, pointing out that the expensive machine saves time, labor and valuable space on the floor, and generates $7 an ingot for the company, which can add up fast.

PCF is in the early stages of applying for LEED certification, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system by the U.S. Green Building Council, said Degano.

“Our company is big on the green movement, and it has trickledown economics,” said Buckley. “Building owners want to do more green, and some only want to work with companies that are doing green.”


Rock On

While Buckley declined to discuss revenues, he did say that PCF has grown 20 percent to 30 percent a year since its inception in 1995. Then known as Pacific Coast Foam, the company grew into a full-service business, including design development, fabrication, project management and installation.

The company also has been evolving in its use of materials. Starting out as a foam-only operation, it gravitated to faux stone, wood and pre-cast concrete, as well as 3-D-themed props and monuments. The finishes are thick and rock solid, said Degano, rapping the frame of an elaborately decked out fireplace in the display room. No stone , so to speak , has gone unturned, he added.

“We hired some artists and skilled plasterers, and Scott spent hours on the Web, researching different coatings,” said Degano.

The company’s base includes retail, hotels, casinos, movie theaters, corporate events and theme parks, as well as commercial and residential construction. Among PCF’s clients are San Francisco-based Swinerton Inc., Redwood City-based DPR Construction Inc., Arizona-based Sundt Construction, the San Diego Fire Department, Shea Homes, Westwood-based KB Homes and Dallas-based Centex Homes, and casinos, including Sycuan, Barona, Viejas, Pala and Pachanga.

Degano estimates that the fabricated materials, compared to authentic timber and stone, can save from 20 percent to 50 percent of a project’s costs, while installation is significantly faster compared to the weightier materials.

PCF now services a clientele nationwide, currently supplying decorative panels for a condominium project in Hawaii. Restaurants also are a big market, and have included the Bombay (molding and a bar fa & #231;ade), and Casa de Madera (beams), both located in Hillcrest, as well as beams for LG’s Steakhouse in downtown San Diego.

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