Come rain, snow, sleet, hail, and even fire, Johns Manville (JM) keeps its customers protected from the elements. JM produces commercial and industrial roofing systems and formaldehyde-free fiberglass insulation for the commercial and residential building industries. The company also produces residential building insulation as well as specialty insulation for the aerospace, transportation, acoustics, appliance, and HVAC industries. Other offerings include fire-protection systems, thermal and acoustical insulation, glass textile wall coverings, and fibers and nonwoven mats used in roofing and flooring. JM operates about 40 plants in China, Europe, and North America. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway owns JM.
After some 25 years of asbestos-related lawsuits (including a period of bankruptcy), Johns Manville was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway in 2001. The company had established an asbestos trust fund to pay victims of asbestosis and other diseases, but the fund was soon depleted. JM has since re-established the fund but no longer pays out dollar for dollar to recipients.
Most of JM's asbestos troubles are behind it. However, depressed residential and commercial building markets led to declining orders in the construction and auto industries in 2008 and 2009. Earnings fell and as a result JM was forced to reduce production and cut hundreds of jobs at plants around the world in order to reduce costs.
Construction-related business (including JM) continued to struggle in 2010. However, the company is positioning itself for an eventual recovery in the housing market. It also is focusing on growing its commerical roofing business. It is building a $55 million commercial roofing membrane plant in Ohio. It is the second commerical roofing plant that JM has built within the past three years.
Although the company is dealing with dwindling demand in some sectors, it continues to develop new products and address environmental concerns. For instance, JM has initiated a change in its entire line of fiberglass insulation from a traditional phenol-formaldehyde base to a a greener formaldehyde-free line, which uses an acrylic resin as its binder. Also in 2009 JM entered the solar energy roofing market with the launch of JM E3co. It is part of JM's strategy to offer more energy efficient products. – less