Having had new life breathed into it, Berger set about preparing for the future. In early 1996, Berger upgraded its Unix computer operating system, thereby improving order processing and advanced reporting capabilities. Berger manufactured its RDP product line -- gutters, downspouts, trim coil, and associated accessories and fittings -- at its Feasterville facility. RDP sales were made principally to wholesale distributors for resale directly to roofers and general contractors for repairs and replacements of roof drainage systems, mostly in residential buildings. To manufacture RDP products, Berger bought aluminum, copper, and galvanized and painted steel. The company strictly scrutinized all raw materials and all finished products for quality control based on industry and internal guidelines and standards.
Berger had to compete with both small and large manufacturers and fabricators, primarily in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic region, its major market. Berger began to implement an advertising and marketing program to expand its business to a more national level. Record sales for fiscal 1996 were $19.75 million, compared to net sales of $11.94 million in 1993.
During February 1997, Berger completed the acquisition of Real-Tool Inc., thus gaining a complete line of commercial snow guards and a line of specialties for protecting and preserving metal roofs. On January 2, 1998, Berger acquired all the assets of Benjamin Obdyke Incorporated, Berger's single largest competitor as a manufacturer of roof drainage and aluminum soffit products. This transaction was beneficial for both companies: Berger became a one-stop source for all roof drainage needs and Obdyke could further expand its offering of quality ventilation and other building products to a national market. The acquisition added approximately $14 million to Berger's revenue base in 1999, mostly from aluminum roof-drainage products. In December 1998, Berger acquired Sheet Metal Manufacturing Co., Inc. of Ridgewood, New York, and Waterbury, Connecticut -- a manufacturer of roof drainage products and Berger's second-largest competitor. This Sheet Metal purchase was a major factor for an increase in sales from 1998-99. These acquisitions also made it possible for Berger to penetrate the New York and New England markets.
Moreover, in an effort to grow the company and support future acquisitions, Berger arranged for additional financing and continued to search for immediately accretive acquisition candidates. The company built a solid infrastructure and increased the human resources needed to support future acquisitions. According to a 2003 article in the Philadelphia Business Journal, "A series of strategic acquisitions" broadened the company's "geographic reach and increased its manufacturing capacity." Berger believed that it had attained and could maintain a dominant position over many of the smaller manufacturers with whom it competed for business.
To assure that the company would always immediately fill special requests from the independent distributors who made up its core client base, President Joseph Weiderman continually bought new equipment and upgraded old equipment (investments ranging from $100,000 to $200,000 and up). This kind of service met with customer approval. By year-end 1999, Berger had expanded its product line to 2,000 individual items and posted higher revenues and income from operations than it had since it began to implement its 1996 acquisition strategy.
Once again, during this time, another company that would figure in Berger's future was planning to expand. United Kingdom-based Euramax International Ltd., a multinational company, completed a plan to establish headquarters in Norcross, Georgia. According to David Smith, president and chief executive officer of the American branch, Euramax International, Inc., Euramax required closer proximity to U.S. investors and capital markets.