DENVER—Johns Manville is expanding its manufacturing operation with the purchase of a plant in Milan, Ohio, that will become its first EPDM roofing products facility.
The project also includes the acquisition of state-of-the-art machinery and, by the last quarter of 2011, the addition of a work force of about 70, a spokeswoman said, adding that the company also is investing in the latest technology.
She estimated the cost of the project at about $55 million.
“JM has made significant investments in our roofing systems business over the last several years,” said President and CEO Todd Raba. The latest acquisition is a major part of the $125 million it spent on the commercial roofing end of its business in the last five years.
The Milan site is the onetime Clevite Elastomers rubber molding plant, ultimately owned by Tenneco Inc. Tenneco decided in 2008 to move production from the facility to Mexico, and closed the factory.
The facility spans approximately 235,000 square feet, the spokeswoman said, and will produce EPDM single-ply membrane roofing. “Our footprint is growing due to investments in our new products and single ply,” she said.
About 80 percent of the EPDM market is located in the Midwest and Northeast, which made the factory ideal because it is close to the majority of the firm's customers and ensures efficient delivery, according to the company.
“Due to the proven performance of EPDM roofing products, JM believes this is the right choice for our customers in the Northeast and Midwest,” the spokeswoman said.
The 152-year-old global building products manufacturer, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, needed the site in order to enter the EPDM roofing sector with a North American facility, she said. It currently imports those products from Asia.
Renovation of the Milan factory is slated to begin in May, she said. It is expected to begin making products in 2012. About 100 million square feet of manufacturing capacity is slated to be available by mid-2012. Once it's in operation, Johns Manville will have 13 roofing production facilities worldwide.
“JM has dedicated substantial resources to underscore our commitment to the single-ply business and ensure a strong future for our customers in this segment of the commercial roofing industry,” according to Fred Stephan, vice president and general manager of the firm's roofing systems business.
Raba said this is the right time to invest in building Denver-headquartered Johns Manville's product portfolio, “because it strengthens our value to roofing contractors, building owners and our distributors. JM has one of the broadest offerings of commercial roofing products in the industry.”
EPDM membrane is known for its durability, ease of installation and good weathering characteristics, and gives Johns Manville more options as the company builds that portfolio, the firm said.
It's a proven product with a long history in the market “and this strengthens our leadership position in key markets we serve, complements our roofing systems membrane product offerings and fulfills needs expressed by many of our customers,” according to Stephan.
The new roofing facility is the second Johns Manville has opened in the last three years.
It added a thermoplastic polyolefin facility in Scottsboro, Ala., in November 2008. The 164,000-sq.-ft. factory cost the firm about $30 million and produces TPO membranes in 10-foot widths that are used in commercial and industrial fully adhered and mechanically attach-ed roofing systems.