It’s a commodity product used on almost every remodel ever performed, but drywall isn’t just the stuff that hides the studs and insulation. Joe Koenig knows this, but wants to spread the word to the rest of the industry.
“There’s no creativity left in drywall,” says Koenig, president of Chicago-area drywall products manufacturer Trim-Tex. “Now it’s all about who can slap up the board the cheapest. We’re fighting to change that mentality.”
Though worn down by the economic downturn like most other companies, Trim-Tex is poised for growth, and Koenig is thrilled with the opportunities his products can afford remodelers. “We’ve had the same challenges as others in the last three years, but what’s motivating me right now is the desire to hire back some people we had to lay off,” he says. “We’re growing, we’re expanding our facility, and we’re ready to be the best of the best.”
Arts in (Drywall) Education
When Koenig says Trim-Tex is growing, he means it. From its front door in an area of suburban Chicago, you wouldn’t think the building spans 225,000-square-feet of manufacturing, marketing, and research and development space. In addition to staff offices and production lines, the headquarters house a 76,000-square-foot shipping facility that handles 30,000 orders annually. Beyond that, crews are hard at work finishing an 8,000-square-foot design and training center for contractor education. “For the last 20 years, we’ve been motivated by wanting homeowners to live in beautiful homes,” Koenig says. “We really look at what we offer as ‘Drywall Art,’ and we’re opening this design and training center as a place to offer seminars for dealers and contractors.”
On its websites www.trim-tex.com and www.drywallart.com, and soon in its training center, Trim Tex highlights how its products give installers the flexibility to go beyond a basic 4x8 sheet of drywall and instead use the material to create everything from wall accents to ceiling effects to desks and headboards. The Trim-Tex products themselves are similar to corner bead installed where two pieces of drywall meet, but more advanced and stylized.
“Our core message is that we have ‘10 ways to finish your corner,’” Koenig says, though that number (which should actually be 12), doesn’t include products that aren’t specifically corner pieces. The product line includes a range of bullnose corner sizes, chamfer beads, and decorative edges that, in combination, yield countless creative opportunities for finishing walls and surfaces.
Many Trim-Tex’s customers take full advantage of the Drywall Art concept, going beyond simple wall accents to create elaborate living spaces in their clients homes, all with drywall. The company even holds an annual Drywall Artist of the Year contest, popular among its clients. While many of these installations require much more drywall than needed to finish an average room, Koenig says the products are inexpensive compared to building out similar details with lumber. He adds that small projects and accents can actually help contractors reduce waste on jobsites by utilizing drywall scrap that would otherwise head to the landfill.
“We always love to see what our customers do with these materials because it plays up an affordable luxury aspect of design,” Koenig says. “Good drywall art looks like routed woodwork, but you can offer it to the homeowner at a fraction of the price and give them something they wouldn’t think they could have in their home otherwise.” Koenig says he and his staff have worked hard to fill the company websites with product information, installation videos, and galleries that offer inspiration for budding drywall artists. As more educational seminars get underway, he hopes additional dealers and customers will break into this affordable luxury artform.