Georgia-Pacific Corporation Company History
With 300 manufacturing plants across North America, South America and Europe, Georgia-Pacific Corporation is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of pulp, paper, tissue and building products. While best known for household brands such as Angel Soft and Quilted Northern toilet paper, Brawny paper towels, and Dixie paper products, Georgia-Pacific also offers a large line of building materials and related chemicals.
The company, founded as a hardwood wholesaler in 1927 by Owen Robertson Cheatham, was originally named Georgia Hardwood Lumber Company. Its first plant was located in Augusta, Georgia, but the company quickly expanded throughout the South, adding sawmills and plywood lumber mills to its operations. The company changed its name to Georgia-Pacific Plywood & Lumber Company. in 1948, shortly after purchasing its first plant on the west coast; it became a publicly traded company in 1949 and, in 1956, was renamed as Georgia-Pacific Corporation. The following year, the company added papermaking to its activities when it built a kraft pulp and linerboard mill in Toledo, Oregon.
Georgia-Pacific continued to grow over the second half of the 20th century through a series of mergers and acquisitions. In 2005, the company was purchased for $21 billion by Wichita, Kansas-based Koch Industries, one of the largest private companies in the world. Today, Georgia-Pacific employs approximately 40,000 people.
Asbestos Containing Products Manufactured by Georgia-Pacific Corporation
In 1965, Georgia-Pacific acquired Bestwall Gypsum, a Pennsylvania-based company that manufactured products made out of gypsum, a soft mineral used to make drywall, plasters and fertilizers. Like many companies at the time, Bestwall was using asbestos in a number of its gypsum products. The naturally occurring mineral was readily available, inexpensive and extremely effective as a binding and strengthening agent.
The use of asbestos in Bestwall’s products continued for more than a decade after Georgia-Pacific took over the company. While the risks of asbestos were not known by the public until the mid-1970s, some have argued that Georgia-Pacific executives knew about the dangers as early as the 1960s, but kept using the substance anyway. Today, it is widely known that asbestos can be deadly. People who breathe the airborne fibers are at risk of developing serious, life-threatening respiratory diseases like mesothelioma cancer and asbestosis.
Georgia-Pacific has acknowledged that it used asbestos in many drywall-related products in the 1960s and 1970s – particularly in joint compound, a white substance used to cover the gaps between adjoining pieces of drywall. Construction workers and homeowners who did renovations during those decades may have come into contact with asbestos and could be at risk of disease. While asbestos was removed from Georgia-Pacific’s products in 1977, it is important to remember that many homes and buildings constructed during those years still contain the asbestos products in their walls.
Georgia-Pacific products that may have contained asbestos include, but are not limited to:
- Georgia-Pacific All Purpose Joint Compound
- Georgia-Pacific Dry Mixed Joint Compound
- Georgia-Pacific Joint Compound
- Georgia-Pacific Ready Mix Joint Compound
- Georgia-Pacific Speed Set Joint Compound
- Georgia-Pacific Triple Duty Joint Compound
- Georgia-Pacific Drywall Adhesive
Occupations at Risk for Asbestos Exposure
Individuals most likely to be affected by asbestos in Georgia-Pacific products are construction workers who labored on project sites where the company’s asbestos products were used. Joint compound, one of Georgia-Pacific’s products known to have contained asbestos, is normally applied to drywall in thin layers, is allowed to dry, and is then sanded down. When the product contains asbestos, this sanding process releases hazardous fibers into the air and can put people’s health at risk. Drywall tapers, carpenters and tile setters are among those construction workers who may have been affected by breathing dust from Georgia-Pacific’s asbestos-laden compounds.
Workers who manufactured these products at Bestwall Gypsum/Georgia-Pacific plants were also at a high risk of exposure to asbestos, as were demolition workers and hardware store salespeople who may have handled the compounds. Homeowners who took part in remodeling or renovation could also be at risk. And unfortunately, even those who did not come into direct exposure with asbestos products may have been be affected. Because asbestos clings easily to clothing, family members of construction workers or remodelers could have been exposed to dangerous asbestos fibers simply by washing or handling dusty work clothes.
It can take as long as 50 years after asbestos exposure for symptoms of mesothelioma cancer to appear. If you or someone you know may have been exposed, take the time to learn about the disease and the treatment options that are available.
Georgia-Pacific has been involved in an enormous number of lawsuits from individuals who say their health was affected by breathing the company’s products, either on the job or at home. In 2003, Georgia-Pacific reported that approximately 300,000 asbestos-related lawsuits had been filed against the company.Sources
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