Johns-Manville Corporation History
The Johns-Manville Corporation (JM) began in 1901 as a merger between the H.W. Johns Manufacturing Company and the Manville Covering Company. H.W. Johns was founded in 1858, and principally offered asbestos-based fire resistant roofing material. Manville Covering, established 1886, manufactured heat insulating material also containing asbestos. Upon their merger, the companies expanded their product line to include asbestos-cancer/cement, automotive sheet packing, and magnesia products.
The corporation went public in 1927, and renowned financier J.P. Morgan quickly bought up the largest stake. Demand for Johns-Manville products increased substantially as World War II escalated. U.S. government contracts mandated the production of insulation products containing asbestos for naval vessels and other war-related purposes.
In 1958, Johns-Manville began to move into fiber glass insulation by acquiring L.O.F. Glass Fibers, Ohio. By 1974, they had sales exceeding $1 billion and were amongst the nations leading producers of fiber glass, PVC pipe and asbestos-cement pipe. In 1977, they began a four-year program that would double their world-wide production capability. Only when the dangers of airborne asbestos dust were fully understood did the company's good fortunes take a turn for the worse. In 2001 Johns-Manville was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
Johns-Manville Products that Contained Asbestos
Johns-Manville offered asbestos-containing products for sale from their founding through 1985. Asbestos was favored for its insulating and fire resistant properties. It was also inexpensive, because asbestos is a natural mineral that is readily and abundantly available. Products manufactured under the Manville brand name include Manville wallboard, roofing products, siding, cement board, asbestos paper, felt, cloth, gaskets, packing seals, cements, electrical products, pipe covering, block insulation, piping, and floor tiles. They are all known to have potentially exposed workers to hazardous airborne asbestos dust. Johns-Manville also supplied raw asbestos fibers, which present a clear exposure risk.
Industries and Occupations at Risk for Asbestos Exposure
Johns-Manville products were used extensively in construction and naval shipyards, putting a wide variety of workers at risk for developing malignant pleural mesothelioma or other diseases caused by asbestos exposure. It is important to remember that the greatest threat posed by asbestos is from airborne asbestos dust, which can affect hands-on workers and those in supervisory or administrative roles alike. Dust carried home on workers clothes also posed a documented threat to the health of their families putting them at risk for developing mesothelioma, for which there is no known cure.
Following is a list of occupations known to have exposure to Johns-Manville products. This list is thorough but may not be all-encompassing.
- Air Conditioning & Heating Installer / Repair
- Asbestos Miner
- Asbestos Plant Worker
- Asbestos Removal Worker
- Brake Maker
- Brick Masons, Layer & Hod Carrier
- Boiler Worker
- Butcher & Meat Cutter
- Construction Laborer
- Factory Worker
- Fire Fighters
- Furnace Worker
- Glass Worker
- Hazardous Materials Removal
- Heat Treating Equipment Operator
- Pipe Fitter
- Steamfitter Plumber
- Plasterer & Sheet-Rock Installer
- Railroad Brakeman
- Railroad Carman
- Ship fitter
- Shipyard Laborer
- Steel, Foundry, Aluminum Worker
- Well Pullers
Johns-Manville Corporation reorganized as the Manville Corporation in 1981. Soon after, they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. This move was necessitated by an increasing number of lawsuits brought by workers (and their families) that were harmed as a result of their occupational exposure to dangerous asbestos dust. The company emerged from bankruptcy in 1988. The Manville Personal Injury and Property Damage Settlement Trusts were established as part of this process. These trusts were designed to put workers who developed or have the potential to develop asbestos-related health problems such as malignant mesothelioma on even footing with Manville's other creditors. Mesothelioma attorneys can help you assess and file your claim with the Manville Trust.