May 31, 2011

State of Alabama
Press Release: Alabama Department of Commerce

German Entrepreneur's Alabaster Factory Makes Stronger Products

Published: Friday, May 27, 2011
German entrepreneur Steve Schurmann, who earlier this year opened Plaswall Manufacturing in Alabaster, says his products can better withstand strong winds and fires than traditional building materials. He demonstrates the product's durability by turning a 1,200-degree blow torch on it.
(The Birmingham News/Tamika Moore)

ALABASTER -- It didn't seem like it at the time, but Steve Schurmann says he picked the perfect time and place in April when he opted to build Plaswall Manufacturing's first U.S. factory in Alabaster.

Schurmann's company makes a building product sold under the names of Plaswall and Powerform that he says are flame- and water-resistant and better able to withstand powerful winds like the April 27 tornadoes that decimated neighborhoods across Alabama.

Since the storms struck, Schurmann says he has had a much easier time getting potential clients in Alabama to listen to Plaswall presentations. Over the past month, he has presented at the Associated General Contractors' Birmingham monthly meeting, the Alabama Fire Marshal's meeting at the Cahaba Valley Fire District in Shelby County, and talked with building professionals across the state.

On Tuesday, Schurmann has a meeting with Gov. Robert Bentley in which he will share the benefits of his product as the state looks to rebuild areas affected by the storm. The German entrepreneur came up with the product idea six years ago and his group has Plaswall manufacturing plants in 10 countries so far.

The Plaswell building system relies on modular walls that use fiber cement boards and spacers made from recycled plastic. Sections are bonded together using an adhesive to create a strong, self-supporting formwork that can be filed onsite with concrete, according to a description of the system.

Before establishing factories that create Plaswall's building systems, Schurmann says he spent 17 years managing establishing offshore companies in 75 countries, from Europe to the Far East, U.S. and Caribbean.

Company: Plaswall Manufacturing & Development Alabama LLC
Founder: Steve Schurmann
Contact: 525 Galloway Circle, Alabaster, AL, 35007
Phone: 205-222-5754

Schurmann is a self-made entrepreneur who has funded businesses across the globe using private capital. He learned the building trade more than two decades ago in his native Germany.

In addition to serving as CEO of Plaswall Manufacturing, Schurmann is general manager of 21st Equity Homes Manufacturing Inc., a company that markets and develops what it is termed "villa in a box systems and powerboard" building products across the globe and has an office in Las Vegas.

Besides making Plaswall and Powerboard products, Schurmann owns patents for what he calls "floating cement terminals" as well as cement products called power-cement and power-concrete that he uses in his company building systems.


Schurmann says he and his partners saw a need for more affordable homes and developed a building product he says is five times stronger and 30 to 40 percent cheaper than traditional drywall or wooden walls.

"With our technology and logistic solutions we were able to deliver non-combustible homes for the poorest people on the planet, which in the long term will help to fight poverty and create proper housing standards, especially in third-world countries.

Schurmann says Plaswall's technology help disaster victims rebuild emergency or permanent homes "in a short time frame and more cost-effective" than you would build with wood. "It is a preventive construction method. The beauty of this product is that it is stronger than traditional building products and better able to withstand high winds like tornadoes, water floods and fires that result from disasters."


Top challenges are getting word of Plaswall out to potential users, and marketing to the public in order to educate them about a building system that is totally new.

Finding license partners is another challenge. Schurmann is the only investor, and is offering to potential license partners opportunities to open independent Plaswall plants or partner with him to build more factories across the United States.

Schurmann is the only person working at Plaswall's Alabaster facility while he markets the business, but within three months hopes to gain enough orders to staff the plant.

He said a typical Plaswall manufacturing plant would have eight to 12 workers, capable of producing 200 panels (about 8,000 square feet) of Plaswall and Powerform product per eight-hour shift.


Schurmann wants to open 40 to 50 Plaswall Manufacturing plants across the country. His initial plans are to expand in Alabama and then spread out into other states.

"Each plant would cost about $250,000 in co-ownership to set up including equipment and materials," Schurmann said. "That is far less than a typical concrete plant that can cost $2 million to $4 million."

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