In its ongoing effort to refocus its business and product offering, Serious Energy has sold its assets in Colorado to two investors whose re-formed company had sold those same assets to Serious four years earlier.
Alpen High Performance Products LLC, a new corporate entity, will now make and distribute high-performance fiberglass windows and architectural glass under its own name. Its residential windows are expected to account for about half of its annual sales, and will continue to be sold primarily through a network of more than 100 specialty retailers around the country, according to Brad Begin, Alpen’s CEO, who with his business partner Kevin Corley self-financed this acquisition.
Neither Alpen nor Serious, which is based in Sunnyvale, Calif., disclosed information about Alpen’s revenue or income, what Begin and Corley paid for the Colorado assets, or the names of any dealers Alpen sells through.
Begin was with Alpen, founded in 1981, when its owners sold the company to Serious in 2008. At the time, he recounts for Builder, Alpen was raising money to expand the production capacity of its manufacturing plant in Denver. The company, in fact, wasn’t for sale when Serious contacted Alpen about forming some kind of alliance. “They had an interest in moving into high-performance windows,” recalls Begin.
Alpen touts itself as being the nation’s longest continuously operating fabricator of glass systems that use suspended film technology to enhance performance. Begin says its business “is as strong as it’s ever been. There’s a tremendous need in the marketplace for products that are high-performance and affordable.”
One of the knocks against Serious Energy’s products has long been that they’re simply too expensive, particularly for home builders and remodelers. Begin, though, disputes this perception when he asserts that Alpen’s windows and glass are “very well priced in the categories in which they are sold.”
Begin says Alpen is readying the release of new building material–oriented solutions. He didn’t reveal too much, except to say that all of them would have “some aspect” of a window or door solution, “but with broader applications,” he says, without elaboration.
Meanwhile, Serious Energy—which since its launch in 2002 has been among the highest-profile suppliers of energy-efficient products in the U.S.—has been regrouping in the aftermath of several rough months during which its corporate suite turned into a revolving door, its products’ energy saving claims were challenged, and its efforts to diversify have been decidedly mixed.
Calls to Serious’ headquarters requesting comment for this article were not returned by presstime. But cracks in Serious’s armor started to appear early this year when it closed manufacturing plants in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Chicago. In February, Serious ousted its CEO and public face Kevin Surace, and nearly half of its key executives had departed by the summer.
The FederalTrade Commission found thatSerious and four other companies had engaged in “deceptive practices” and “unsupported claims” about how much money its windows would save consumers. The company’s nascent Serious Capital entity—whose goal was to leverage $1 billion in solar power purchase agreements—is in limbo. And its Serious Energy Manager software, which links buildings’ mechanicals and devices to power grids to measure and balance their consumption, changed strategic marketing direction last spring, according to Marc Porat, one of Serious’s co-founders and a director.
Porat, whose other business interests include the modular home manufacturer Zeta Communities in San Francisco, told GreenTechMedia in April that Serious was retrenching to its core business, “which is materials.”
Serious continues to make three series of high-performance vinyl windows for residential installation at its manufacturing plant in Vandergrift, Pa. That facility also makes high-performance glass for commercial use, according to the company’s website.
A 12-acre plant in Newark, Calif., produces soundproofing drywall panels called QuietRock, along with related adhesives, caulking, and underlayment. However, the company no longer promotes that product as a green alternative. “It’s not necessarily a cleantech sell,” Porat told GreenTechMedia. The company’s other key building product is EcoRock, a “green” drywall that Serious claims it produces using 80% less energy than conventional gypsum. That claim, though, has been undermined somewhat by falling natural gas prices.
John Caulfield is senior editor for Builder magazine.