WASCO manufactures, recreates tiles

MARIETTA – A workshop for those with developmental disabilities is established in a cottage industry in building renovation.

WASCO Inc. can reproduce original tin ceiling tiles using plastic and machinery at Marietta.

Panels come in different styles including Victorian and Carolyn Anne and have the authentic look of antique pressed tin panels.

WASCO, at 340 Muskingum Drive, offers more than 20 styles of tiles, which includes molding and chair railings.

Work Services Manager Joe Faires said he started working at WASCO in the late 1980s and the service pre-dates his employment.

“I’ve been here since 1989 and they’ve done it before then,” he said. “I’d say the early to mid 1980s.”

Faires said that the tiles are made on a large machine. They start out as a sheet of Kydex, a material like PVC.

“The original tin panel, you affix it to this box,” Faires said. “You put the material in the heat panel.”

Replacement tiles may be made from molds made from the tin panels. The original tin panels must be sent to WASCO.

After the plastic sheet becomes malleable, it is placed over the original tin panels and put in a vacuum to press it against the original, Faires said.

“The box shoves into it and a vacuum sucks the panel down (onto the tin),” he said. “It’ll make a perfect replica.”

Usually two people work on the tiles, an adult client with disabilities and a staff member who oversees the production and tells the client when to take the tile out of the heat and when to press it to the mold, Faires said.

“This is a two-person job,” he said. “The machine is so finicky now (the staff member) makes sure (our clients) don’t take it out too soon or leave it in too long. I’d like to upgrade (the machine) eventually, but it still runs.”

WASCO can produce 40 to 50 panels a day.

“We keep our raw material in stock,” Faires said. “You never know what people like. We can do six an hour, maybe seven so five to six minutes per panel, if it’s heating right and everything.”

One benefit to the new plastic tiles is that they don’t rust over time like the original tin panels. The panels have even shipped across the country.

“There’s bunches of places downtown (that have the panels,)” Faires said. “We’ve shipped as far west probably as Texas. We ship North, South. We’ve sold as far south as Florida. I know there was an older hotel in Columbus, and also Ford’s Theater in Washington (D.C.).”

The tiles only come in polar white, but Faires said they can be painted any color of the rainbow after using a bonding primer and they can also be cut down depending on the design or can be overlapped.

“Your options with what you can do with (the tiles) is limitless,” Faires said.

Despite the broad range of shipping areas and buildings, Faires said there isn’t much advertising going on.

“We’re marketing more now,” he said. “Word of mouth is good; local people have bought more and told people. Of course, we also do home shows, (but) it’s basically word of mouth.”

Nancy Harris, business development manager, said WASCO is exploring other ways to market the tiles.

“We are currently pursuing opportunities to market our ceiling tiles to different home renovators and contractors,” Harris said.

Faires said the product is a good one and that it’s just a part of WASCO’s services for adults with disabilities.

“It’s a great product,” he said. “The profits we make off of it goes back into our program. We’re a jack of many trades here. It’s one piece of the many things we do here.”

Harris said WASCO is dedicated to meeting the needs of local business while meeting the objective to help provide for adults with disabilities.

“It seems that we are commonly referred to as one of the best kept secrets in Washington County due to the products and services we provide,” Harris said. “Today, WASCO is ever evolving to meet the needs of local businesses and also to minimize the effects of disabling conditions to assist people in obtaining a better quality of life.”