Insulation production is a fairly stable process that doesn’t change much. That makes getting established in the industry very difficult for upstart companies. The kings of insulation production remain industry giants like Owens Corning and Dow Chemical.
Then there’s Environmentally Safe Products Inc., which produces its patented reflective insulation products from a sleepy side street in New Oxford, near the border of Adams and York counties.
Cory Groft, one of the founding partners, remembers the years of struggle in the early to mid-1990s.
His wife, Veronica, went door to door selling the company’s patented Low-E insulation to anyone who would listen, Groft recalled. Driving an old, beat-up van, Veronica Groft always parked a couple of blocks from the offices she visited so prospective clients wouldn’t see it.
“Insulation is such a dog-eat-dog, penny-pinching industry,” Cory Groft said. “It’s not an easy one to break into.”
The efforts eventually paid off, and ESP began growing steadily. Initially selling roof insulation for pole barns, Groft and his partners branched out into new-home construction. Today, he estimates that residential insulation accounts for 60 percent of sales.
The company set a sales record in 2014 and expects to break that figure this year. The first year ESP topped $1 million in sales was 1995, said Tom Wright, company president.
“We were dancing down the halls,” he said with a laugh. “Now it’s a monthly goal.”
Roots in solar
Cory Groft began in the solar power generation business more than 25 years ago, tinkering with various ideas. That gave Groft and partner Tom Dauber plenty of insight into radiant heat and conduction. They quickly saw better opportunities in reflective insulation.
“We went out and visited chicken farmers and all those kinds of people who were building pole barns,” Groft said. “Out of that, we designed Low-E.”