Vixen Composites is a newly established affiliate of RV product manufacturer Dicor Corporation. It specializes in composite structural and exterior panels for the recreational vehicle and commercial trailer industries, with plans to invest more than $6 million in machinery and equipment to lease 98,000 square feet of space.
How do you fit into the composites industry?
We are in the exterior component part of the RV industry. We hatched a plan two-and-a-half years ago as we looked for other ways to focus on the exterior of RVs. Our goal was not just RVs, though that’s the main thrust, but also to look for potential components to spread to other industries such as marine, transportation (step van, smaller vehicles), residential applications like sunrooms, potential military portable structures. We’ve done research in those areas, because it was important to understand where to go with the process outside the RV industry.
What is your manufacturing process?
It’s a continuous manufacturing process, which means it’s controlled by computers and runs continuously, as opposed to hand lay-up. We believe we have some unique capabilities because of the scale of the panel we can produce, which is 10-feet wide and unlimited in lengths (at least what’s transportable). We don’t know if anyone is doing that today, but if there are, there aren’t many.
Why do you focus on RV?
We picked the RV industry first for several reasons. It’s an industry we’re very familiar with, 80 percent of the production is within 50 miles and lastly, because the finish required makes it one of the hardest products to manufacture. We felt strongly about doing the hardest one first. Some of the others require a smaller level of exterior finish. If the panel is more structural than decorative, the finish isn’t as important.
How do you see the role of composites changing in the RV industry?
There’s a time coming where there will be more ways to make those products lighter and more durable while utilizing less wood. The RV needs to get wood out of its product, and it’s moving in that direction, albeit somewhat slowly because wood is relatively inexpensive. Issues with wood include degradation, humidity and water absorption which lead to mold and mildew. The performance of the vehicle will be much better with less wood because it isn’t necessarily structurally sound.