Johns Manville

September 7, 2006

Johns Manville
Denver, CO
$530 million

Key Personnel

Dion Persson, senior vice president, engineered products group; Fred Stephan, vice president for high performance nonwovens; Zain Mahmood, vice president for construction materials and systems


Waterville, OH; Defiance, OH; Richland, MS, Spartanburg, SC, Etowah, TN; Bobingen, Berlin, Wertheim, Karlstein and Steinach, Germany; Shanghai, China; Trnava, Slovakia

ISO Status

Spartanburg, SC and Defiance, OH ISO 9002 certified; Bobingen and Berlin, Germany ISO 9001 certified; Waterville, OH ISO 9002 certified; Etowah, TN ISO 9002 certified


Airlaid (glass and synthetic), wetlaid, calendered, melt blown, spunbonded, needlepunched, thermal bonded

Brand Names

Microlith, DuraGlass, Delta-Aire, DynaWick, DynaWeb, DynaTech, Micro-Aire, MicroLith, Ecomat, Duraglass, and Combimat, DuraBase and Gorilla Wrap

Major Markets

Roofing substrates, air and liquid filtration, sorbents, battery separators, geotextiles, flooring substrates and facers for building products

Building and Engineered Materials expert Johns Manville, Denver, CO, has been able to continue its trend of growing nonwovens sales across all of its markets. The Berkshire Hathaway-owned company’s sales grew to be in excess of $525 million in 2005. While raw material prices have posed significant challenges globally, JM has been successful in passing along increases throughout the world, according to vice president and general manager, construction materials, Zain Mahmood. “Our biggest challenge has been the significant, worldwide increase of costs in raw materials and energy,” he said. “JM has maintained its leadership role by increasing prices in

Johns Manville operates through two groups—engineered products and building materials. JM’s nonwovens operations are contained within the engineered products group and are divided into three global segments—reinforcement fibers, construction materials and systems and high performance nonwovens, a combination of glass and synthetic mats and filtration media.

The construction materials segment is set to receive a boost from a new glass mat line in Etowah, TN, which will come onstream during the second half of 2007. The expansion will make the facility an extremely cost-efficient operation with two large furnaces and 70% of its customers nearby, according to Mr. Mahmood.

“This new glass mat line has some significant new capabilities to reduce the total cost of ownership of our key customers and partners,” Mr. Mahmood said. “The market is looking for these new capabilities and JM is pleased to respond to these customer/market needs. These new capabilities will allow our partners to continue to win in their spaces for the long term.”

JM operates two similar lines in Ohio and has a significant presence in Europe. Beyond roofing systems, glass mat nonwovens have been boosted by the material’s replacement of paper in wallboards, which is a response to concerns about mold from customers.

Meanwhile, in Europe, a new low area weight polyester spunbond line targeting the roofing market is currently in start-up phase in Bobingen, Germany. This line will also help JM expand its product capabilities while making the facility more cost efficient. JM’s Bobingen facility as well as its operation in Berlin, Germany serves customers throughout Europe, including Eastern and Central Europe where construction and roofing markets have been growing significantly.

While no nonwovens operation is in place, for now, JM, which currently produces fiberglass in Slovakia, has indicated an interest in expanding its nonwovens operation into this area. “We have multiple nonwovens capability enhancements on our investment drawing boards and will continue to pursue the right market timing to bring them onstream,” Mr. Mahmood said. “JM is a leader in the CEE market and will continue to serve our customers with adequate investments.”

Moving towards Asia, especially China, JM has expanded its Chinese operations, based in Shanghai through the acquisition of a new spunbond line in the Henan state, which will double the company’s footprint in that country/region. “The new line will serve some of our key customers in China in core JM markets. We are also bolstering our technology capabilities in China, allowing us to focus on one of the fastest growing markets in the world.” JM currently operates a line in Quingpu, near Shanghai.

In addition to regional expansion, new product development has been an important growth strategy for JM. Earlier this year, JM introduced two significant new products in time for the National Association of home Builders 2006 International Builders’ Show.

The first, Gorilla Wrap, is a non-perforated, nonwoven polymeric housewrap material that decreases air infiltration, resulting in increased energy efficiency and maximum moisture control. Gorilla Wrap’s superior strength, with a tear resistance that is 300% higher than the leading housewrap, reduces builder concern during installation and makes it one of the most durable housewrap products on the market, according to the company.

Unlike most housewraps on the market, Gorilla Wrap is non-perforated, reducing the potential for bulk water penetration and allowing trapped moisture to escape, thus reducing concerns about mold and mildew growth. In addition, the non-perforated material keeps wood sheathing drier, reducing the potential for rot and degradation within the wall cavity.

The unique composition of JM’s other new product, DuraBase roofing underlayment, employs, the proven technology of asphalt with a new high-performance nonwoven polyester reinforcement. Its durability enables DuraBase to hold nails better and provides greater tear strength and puncture resistance than synthetics or felt. It also offers greater waterproofing performance and better protection as it also seals around nails. DuraBase’s enhanced ultraviolet resistance allows longer exposure to the sun (up to six months) without performance deterioration.

“This product is focused on creating a spunbond underlayment that is completely different from traditional felt and synthetics,” Mr. Mahmood explained. This unique, patented technology, developed by JM, allows customers to reduce installation costs and get more superior value than existing felt products that absorb water (and thereby do not provide adequate waterproofing) and do not lie flat.”

Durabase also differs from synthetics in that it allows for the use of staples for installation, decreasing installation costs.

Durabase’s exposure in the roofing market has been enhanced through JM’s partnership with Tarco, Little Rock, AK, a leading supplier of roofing underlayments for use under roof shingles, ceramic tiles and steel roofing. Together, the two companies created a new asphalt synthetic underlayment called EasyLay, a new Leakbarrier product using DuraBase. DuraBase technology allows the EasyLay product to unroll flat in warm and cold weather. Additionally, EasyLay offers greater waterproofing performance and better protection, as it employs DuraBase technology, which provides sealing around nails.

“Tarco is the largest underlayment producer in North America,” said Mr. Mahmood. “With its significant logistics and distribution channels, it is ideally suited to help JM convert the traditional felt-based underlayment market. We are partnering with Tarco to help us get this product to market in the fastest possible way. This is a combined effort between JM’s newly formed building products group, engineered products and Tarco. Since this is a steep slope application, we are working with Tarco and large shingle manufacturing partners to use this as a part of their overall system.”

Mr. Mahmood added that JM’s efforts in product development mainly center on helping its customers reduce their total cost of nonwovens while providing them the means to enter new areas. “We are optimistic about the increased need for enhanced durable nonwoven capabilities in every market we play. JM is investing heavily in this segment to ensure that we meet our customers needs, both for today and tomorrow.”

To help achieve this, JM recently formed a global nonwoven technical center with a presence in North American, Europe and Asia. Product specialists working in this center are working on the next generation of technologies to help benefit JM’s customers. “We will continue to extend our technology edge in durable nonwovens,” Mr. Mahmood concluded. “With multiple product/technology capabilities and a global presence, our customers expect us to lead the way in durable nonwovens and we look forward to meeting their expectations.”

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