North & South America: Boudewijn Morelissen – General Manager, Europe & Asia-Pacific: Steven Vermeulen – General Manager
Aiken, SC; Ft. Smith, AR; Danville, IL (JV); Apeldoorn, Netherlands; Liversedge, U.K.
Ceiling systems, roofing systems, flooring systems, battery separators, insulation facers, gypsum facers, wall coverings, electrical laminates, automotive applications, paving mats, fire-resistant fabrics for mattresses and upholstered furniture
With nonwovens sales estimated at $200 million, Owens-Corning’s glass nonwovens operation continues to target ceiling tiles, flooring systems, wall coverings, insulation facings, roofing systems, paving systems and automotive applications, among others. And, while the multinational conglomerate and maker of PINK insulation, roofing materials and vinyl siding has been beleaguered by asbestos-related litigation, which were partially blamed on the company’s filing for bankruptcy protection late last year, nonwovens remains on of the company’s best growth prospects.
Owens-Corning has been making drylaid glass nonwovens since the 1950s and led the roofing industry’s conversion to glass mat-based asphalt shingles in the late 1970s. In the 1980s, Owens-Corning acquired two European operations, one from Pilkington in the U.K. and another in the Netherlands. The company currently operates five nonwovens production facilities in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands, Liversedge, U.K., Aiken, SC, Ft. Smith, AR and Danville, IL. While the bulk of its output is made using a wetlaid process, the company also manufactures drylaid nonwovens. Also, as the nonwovens business continues to expand, the company is diversifying beyond glass veils and mats into input fibers such as polypropylene, PVC and polyester, among others.
The company has also proven its commitment to its nonwovens operation with the announcement of a $25 million investment at its Aiken, SC site. The expansion will increase output of a glass mat facer for gypsum wallboard, more specifically, Georgia-Pacific’s next generation of DensArmor, which features a glass mat facing that finishes like paper-faced wallboard, resulting in the first completely paperless interior wallboard that offers mold and moisture resistance and finishes easily.
On the new product front is Owens-Corning’s Fire Resistant (FR) Filler Cloth, which boosts the mattress industry’s ability to comply with open flame fire resistance legislation, set to come up next year. Comprised of fire-resistant and self-extinguishing fibers, Owens-Corning's (FR) Filler Cloth is seamlessly bonded to standard non-FR filler cloth, which then looks, feels and installs just like traditional materials that are applied to the bottom of no-flip mattresses.
On the corporate front, in June Owens-Corning announced it would merge its Reinforcements Business with with St. Gobain’s Reinforcements business (formerly known as Vetrotex). The anticipated transaction would be structured as a joint venture, with Owens-Corning owning a 60% equity interest and Saint-Gobain owning the remaining 40%. After a minimum of four years, the joint venture provisions would give an option to Saint-Gobain to sell its 40% stake to Owens-Corning, and Owens-Corning to buy the same.
The new company would have approximately $1.8 billion in annual revenues. The Owens-Corning-Saint-Gobain joint venture would present significant opportunities for synergies. These are expected to come primarily from scale benefits in purchasing and procurement; operational and technological plant improvements; improved distribution costs; reduced administrative costs and asset management optimization.