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Seven Johns Manville.

Denver, CO

2006 Nonwovens Sales: $583 million

Key Personnel

Dion Persson, senior vice president, engineered products group; Zain Mahmood, vice president, sales, marketing and innovation, engineered products group; Ken Forden, NA nonwovens and Enno Henze, EU nonwovens


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, DuraSpun, 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

Expansion is the name of the game for Johns Manville (JM), a leading manufacturer of building and engineered materials headquartered in Denver, CO.

A Berkshire Hathaway company, JM has been in business since 1858 and boasts corporate-wide sales in excess of $2.5 billion. With an employee base of approximately 8500 people, JM operates 42 manufacturing facilities in North America, Europe and Asia. The company's Engineered Products Group produces nonwovens and fibers, glass fabrics and air filtration products at 14 manufacturing locations worldwide.

"Our sales grew in 2006 and 2007 in nonwovens due to the new assets we have brought online in Europe, North America and Asia as well as the new products we have introduced," stated JM's vice president and general manager, construction materials, Zain Mahmood. He characterized the state of the global nonwovens industry as "very good" despite continuing cost pressures. "Customers are seeing value in nonwoven products and are willing to pay more for value."

In a recent restructuring at the company, JM has merged what were formerly three global segments--reinforcement fibers, construction materials and systems and high performance nonwovens--and formed four regional segments, European Union fibers and fabrics and North American fibers and fabrics groups. Despite this change, the company continues to operate through its two strategic business units--Engineered Products and Building Materials.

Topping recent news at JM is a new glass mat line in Etowah, TN, which will come onstream during the third quarter of this year. "It's a beautiful line," said Mr. Mahmood, adding that the expansion will make the facility an extremely cost-efficient operation with two large furnaces and 70% of its customers nearby. "This new glass mat line has some significant new capabilities to reduce the total cost of ownership of our key customers and partners," he 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 continued success 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 low area weight polyester spunbond line targeting the roofing market is up and running in Bobingen, Germany. This line expands JM's product capabilities while making the facility more cost efficient. JM's Bobingen facility as well as its operation in Berlin, Germany serve 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," he stated. "JM is a leader in the CEE market and will continue to serve our customers with adequate investments."

Moving toward Asia, especially China, JM expanded its Chinese operations based in Shanghai through the acquisition of a spunbond line in the Henan state, which doubles the company's footprint in that country. "The 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 (see accompanying sidebars). According to Mr. Mahmood, the company's efforts in product development mainly center on helping its customers reduce total costs while providing means to enter new areas. "We are optimistic about the increased need for enhanced durable nonwovens capabilities in every market we are involved in. 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 has formed a global nonwoven technical center with a presence in North America, Europe and Asia. Product specialists working in this center are working on the next generation of technologies to help benefit 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."

Among JM's newest offerings is DuraSpun XTR, a spunbond composite waterproofing carrier, which was recently introduced in Europe. The company has also launched DuraGlass HST (high shingle tear), a composite glass mat for roofing shingles in North America that allows customers to use less asphalt with a more robust glass mat.

Moving forward, Mr. Mahmood said JM is taking an aggressive stance toward future growth. "For the short term, we want to meet our commitments by delivering on our new nonwovens projects. Long term, we are looking to build more nonwovens assets as demand dictates." The company continues to consider capital investment a "very important" part of its growth strategy.

JM Targets Geotextiles Market With DuraSpun Polyester Spunbond

Johns Manville's DuraSpun polyester spunbond geotextiles are used in a variety of applications including road construction, railroad construction, shore reinforcement and hydraulic engineering. Other end uses are industrial and residential engineering landscape and horticulture landfill covering and sport facilities.

By supplementing traditional construction materials and processes, DuraSpun is designed to offer a safe, effective, economical and long-lasting solution to construction problems. DuraSpun geotextiles feature superior characteristics in building physics and display excellent heat and light resistance. Even at brief exposures of approximately 200[degrees]C, its properties are not significantly changed. Tests on polyester spunbond in service prove its long-term resistance to all substances occurring naturally in soil and water and to microorganisms. The filament intersection points of DuraSpun are not fixed and provide ideal elongation properties up to 60%. According to JM, thermally and chemically bonded nonwovens typically fall short of this value.

DuraSpun also protects against perforation and punctual stress With its high penetration force and its exceptional elongation properties. Another important advantage of DuraSpun is the high specific gravity of polyester, which facilitates underwater installations. Nonwovens are made from other polymers require complicated weighting. In addition, polyester spunbond is much more resistant to ultraviolet radiation and its creep tendency is only marginal.

DuraSpun geotextiles are also capable of performing several functions Simultaneously. Soil layers of different compositions and properties are separated by DuraSpun and permanently prevented from mixing. Thus DuraSpun ensures frost resistance and the load-bearing capacity required by construction. Water can pass through in every direction without pressure build-up. At the same time, DuraSpun retains soil matter, which is important for stability and erosion prevention.
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Title Annotation:International Top 40
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Article Type:Company overview
Date:Sep 1, 2007
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