Veka AG founder Heinrich Laumann, one of the first entrepreneurs to foresee the benefits of vinyl windows, died 3 Sept. He was 89.
Laumann bought a roller shutter business in 1969 and turned it into a PVC window profile operation. He and his eight employees unveiled their first window system two years later.
The Sendenhorst, Germany-based company was on its way to becoming a leader in PVC extrusion technology with more than 5,600 employees manufacturing windows, doors, fences, decking and railing in 25 countries.
Laumann's son-in-law, Andreas Hartleif, who is Veka chairman, and his daughter, Elke Hartleif, a board member and global head of human resources, remain active with the family-owned business.
"We are deeply saddened and we extend our sincere condolences to the Laumann and Hartlief family as we remember Mr. Laumann as a passionate, personally engaging and energetic entrepreneur," Joe Peilert, president and CEO of Veka Inc., the North American subsidiary, said in a news release. "He was a pioneer in the PVC extrusion industry and early on recognized the potential of vinyl as a window and door material in the American market."
With sales of $194m (€168m), Fombell, Pennsylvania-based Veka Inc. ranks No. 22 among North American pipe, profile and tubing producers, according to Plastics News' latest rankings. In addition to Fombell, the other US sites are in Terrell, Texas; Reno, Nevada; and Morganton, North Carolina, with a total of 1.2 million square feet of manufacturing.
Laumann, who was helping plan the company's 50th anniversary next year, is being remembered as a visionary.
"Together with 750 American Veka employees, I am very grateful for his foresight to invest in America and his continuous support of our business," Peilert said. "Whether during boom times or the recession years that hit our building industry so hard, his commitment was unwavering with a look towards long-term success. His leadership and entrepreneurial vision will continue to be a guiding example for us."