Economic Development Newsroom

Park Hill Company Growing

Monday December 22, 2008

Great Northern Building Products, LLC, a Louisville-based manufacturer and distributor of specialty buildings materials, has recently signed an exclusive licensing agreement with P&G Solutions, Inc., a Minneapolis based company, to manufacturer and sell DuraFlash vinyl flashing, a cutting edge product designed to address the corrosive nature of concrete and pressure treated lumber used in deck framing.

“DuraFlash vinyl flashing is our first product for the deck accessory market,” said Neville Blakemore, President of Great Northern. Great Northern sells building materials to wholesalers across the country, and with the agreement to sell DuraFlash Great Northern will now be able to sell a deck accessory to its 2,000+ customers. “When you type ‘vinyl flashing’ in Google” Blakemore said, “the first website listed is DuraFlash (“ He continued, “The agreement with P&G not only expands the products we can offer our customers in the short-term, but it continues to lay the ground work for introducing even more products in the future.”

"Deciding to sign the licensing agreement with Great Northern was the right move for us," said Stephanie Pagel, the President of P&G Solutions, Inc. Historically, P&G has a board reach into the big box retail channel, such as Home Depot and Lowe’s, and the company was looking for ways to access the wholesale distribution channels which are more geared toward the professional contractors instead of the weekend warriors and do-it-yourselfers.

“In 2003, the EPA changed the guidelines on the chemicals which can be used for pressure treated lumber,” Pagel said. “The dramatic increase in the amount of copper, as well as other chemicals, has resulted in millions and millions of feet of decking lumber which is highly corrosive to aluminum flashing.” DuraFlash is only one of two products in the market which is specifically designed to provide flashing protection while not corroding when coming in contact with pressure treated lumber. P&G Solutions will stay a separate company, and will continue to be based out of Minneapolis.

Great Northern, which employs 20 people and is located at 901 S 15th Street, is part of Park Hill, and the neighborhood has recently been targeted by Metro Government for an initiative to redevelop the entire area. “There are a lot of fast growing companies in Park Hill,” said Bruce Traughber of Metro Government. “We are excited about not only what Great Northern has accomplished in the past, but what their plans are for the future.” Since 1999, sales at Great Northern have increased nearly 200 percent, gross margins have more than doubled, and the customer base has grown to more than 2,000 wholesalers. Great Northern ships product to 46 states, Canada, Ireland, Japan and Greece.

The licensing agreement with P&G Solutions was financed by Central Bank. “We believe in Great Northern,” said William E. Summers V, Vice President of Central Bank. “They have a strong vision for growth, and are well positioned to execute their strategy of acquiring other specialized building material products across the country,” said Summers.

Nova Group Holding LLC bought Great Northern in 1999, and is run by two Louisville entrepreneurs, Neville Blakemore and H. Carroll Mackin Jr.