Johns Manville (JM), a Berkshire Hathaway company, held a groundbreaking ceremony at its new single-ply membrane manufacturing facility in Milan, Ohio.

The local troop of the Boy Scouts of America raised the flag at JM’s EPDM manufacturing facility in Milan, Ohio, as part of the official groundbreaking ceremony. Photo by Chris King.

MILAN, Ohio - Johns Manville (JM), a Berkshire Hathaway company, held a groundbreaking ceremony at its new single-ply membrane manufacturing facility in Milan, Ohio. The production facility will manufacture Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) roofing products beginning in the second quarter of 2012.

The groundbreaking ceremony was attended by local officials, members of the Milan community, media and JM leadership. Milan Mayor Robert Bickley presented JM Chairman, President and CEO Todd Raba with the key to the city.

“This is a great day for Johns Manville and it’s really incredibly gratifying to see the level of community support,” Raba said. “JM has a strong presence in the state of Ohio and we are excited to be part of the Milan community.”

This facility marks the company’s third facility in Ohio, with representation in three lines of its North American businesses of Insulation Systems, Engineered Products and Roofing Systems. JM opened its Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) plant in Scottsboro, Ala., in November 2008. “This is the right time to invest in enhancing our product portfolio and JM now has one of the broadest offerings of commercial roofing products in the industry,” Raba noted.

Bob Wamboldt, vice president and general manager of JM’s Roofing Systems business, noted that JM began charting this course about five years ago, when contractors told them they hoped JM would invest in TPO and EPDM.

“Everything starts with our customers,” stated Wamboldt. “With over $125 million invested in our commercial roofing business over the past five years, this is really the crowning jewel of a five-year effort. 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.”

Wamboldt noted that JM strategically selected a location close to the majority of its customers to ensure efficient delivery. “It’s an ideal location,” he said. “Eighty percent of our customers for this type of product are in the Midwest and Northeast, so transportation is a big issue. We’ll be installing it here and shipping it to our neighbors.”

The general contractor on the project is O’Neal Inc. of Greenville, S.C. Milan plant manager Brian Keyser stated that renovations began in May 2011, and the goal is to have the machines up and running by May of 2012. The aggressive timetable is possible in part because the plant is a former rubber manufacturing plant for the auto industry. “The site was a fantastic fit,” Keyser said. “It had the infrastructure for mixing on the premises.”

The plant will offer reinforced and non-reinforced EPDM in a variety of thicknesses between 45 and 90 mils. “What you have here is a clear example of commitment to the industry,” Raba told Roofing Contractor. “We want to manufacture all types of products and sell customers the products they want to install.”

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