To All Pond Distributors, Dealers, Installers and Resellers,
A great many rumors and speculations about pond liner have been thrown around our industry lately. Many of you are legitimately concerned over ever increasing prices as well as product shortages. In order to clear up some of the rumors and to provide IPPCA members and the industry with the most accurate information possible I had requested that Firestone specialty products address the matter directly. The letter below is the response I received from Bill Tippens who is the general manager of Firestone Specialty Products. I hope you will find this information useful and will provide some level of reassurance of our industries ability to continue its growth and prosperity.
Dear EPDM Pond Lining Customers,
Firestone Specialty Products strives to deliver quality products and superior service to our customers in each of the markets we serve. As you are no doubt aware, Firestone is one of two large manufacturers of EPDM membrane in the world. This product’s physical properties and inherent durability and sustainability make it the preferred choice for many different applications including commercial roofing, canal liners, aquaculture ponds, reservoirs, recreational vehicle roofing, above grade and below grade waterproofing, and – of course – residential pond liner.
The current situation regarding higher EPDM membrane prices and supply issues is a result of many factors – a perfect storm if you will. EPDM polymer is manufactured in the U.S. by a few large chemical manufacturers such as Exxon, Dow, and Lion Copolymer. Much of the EPDM polymer they produce goes into various automotive applications and, as that industry is enjoying a much needed recovery, there has been increased demand that has both strained capacity and created a supply/demand imbalance. Carbon black and processing oils – other major components of EPDM membrane – have also been in tight supply. The net result is increased pricing of the various raw materials that go into the manufacture of EPDM membranes.
On the supply side, some EPDM membrane manufacturers have significantly reduced their presence in the backyard pond market and shifted their EPDM membrane capacity to more profitable businesses – such as single-ply roofing membranes. Firestone, on the other hand, remains committed to the backyard pond market and intends to add significant manufacturing capacity this fall to meet market demand. While we cannot predict the future I believe we will see an easing of supply constraints this fall and into next year relative to EPDM pond liner. Unfortunately the construction season for ponds will be winding down during the same period providing little consolation for customers in the near term.
Please know that we are doing everything we can to manage through these difficult times, we continue to communicate with our customers on pricing, supply, and lead times. I fully anticipate next year’s pond building season to be much less stressful on you – our valued customers.
Firestone Specialty Products