Johns Manville

Fiberglass insulation manufactured by Johns Manville

Johns Manville is an American corporation based in Denver, Colorado that manufactures insulation, roofing materials, and engineered products. For much of the 20th century, the then-titled Johns-Manville Corporation was the global leader in the manufacture of asbestos-containing products, including asbestos pipe insulation, asbestos shingles, asbestos roofing materials and asbestos cement pipe.[1]

Johns Manville stock was included in the Dow Jones Industrial Average from January 29, 1930 to August 27, 1982 when it was replaced by American Express. In 1981, Johns-Manville Corporation was renamed simply "Manville". In 1982, facing unprecedented liability for asbestos injury claims, Johns Manville voluntarily filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.[1]

Berkshire Hathaway bought the company in 2001. Chairman & CEO Jerry Henry retired in 2004; Steve Hochhauser became Chairman, President & CEO. Todd Raba succeeded him in the summer of 2007; Raba came from MidAmerican Energy Holdings, another Berkshire Hathaway company. In November 2012, Mary Rhinehart was named President & CEO.[2]


An advertisement for Johns-Manville asbestos roofing, 1921

Early history

Founded in 1858, the modern Johns-Manville entity was the result of the merger of two early construction products manufacturers. At the age of 21, Henry Ward Johns had already patented roofing and insulation products. He founded the H. W. Johns Manufacturing Company in New York City.[3] Likewise, in 1885, the Manville Covering Company was founded in Wisconsin by C. B. Manville. C. B. Manville's grandson was the much-married socialite Tommy Manville.

In 1901, H. W. Johns Manufacturing and Manville Covering Co. merged to form H. W. Johns-Manville Company. In 1926, the company was renamed Johns-Manville Corporation. In the 1930s, the industrialist Lewis H. Brown was president of the Johns-Manville Corporation. In 1949, the Canadian branch of the corporation was involved in the Asbestos Strike at its mines in Asbestos, Canada. In 1958, Johns Manville bought Glass Fibers, Inc. based in Toledo, OH from Randolph Barnard. This purchase propelled Manville's insulation division. At the time Dominick Labino was working for Glass Fibers, Barnard and Labino both joined Johns Manville. Glass Fibers had several plants in Waterville and Defiance, those are still in operation under Johns Manville

Asbestos litigation and Johns Manville

Starting as early as 1929, Johns Manville employees began claiming disability from lung diseases.[4] From approximately 1930-1950, attorney Vandiver Brown handled involvement in such lawsuits.

During the 1960s, 70s and 80s, J-M faced thousands of individual and class action lawsuits based on asbestos-related injuries such as asbestosis, lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma. Many new settlements include offering $600 for asbestosis while the Fait Act calls for $12,000 for this condition level. As a result, Manville voluntarily filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1982. At that time, it was the largest company in United States history to have done so. The filing shocked financial analysts; but a few, such as Gary J. Aguirre, had predicted the filing and had forced Manville to post a bond to guarantee payment to their clients.[5][6]

The bankruptcy was resolved by the formation of the Manville Trust to pay asbestos tort claimants in an orderly fashion by giving the trust the lion's share of the equity in the company. The bankruptcy took over 5 years to process and resulted in protracted litigation. The Manville Trust is still in operation today.[7][8]

The company emerged from Chapter 11 in 1988 as Manville Corporation.


In 1997, the company changed its name back to Johns Manville without the hyphen, and this is the name under which it does business today.

In 2001, Johns Manville became a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A, BRK.B).

In 2012, Johns Manville appointed a new CEO, Mary Rhinehart. She was the former CFO for Johns Manville and has been with the company over 33 years.


The town of Manville, New Jersey is named for the company; it had a large manufacturing plant in the borough.


  1. 1 2 In Re Johns-manville Corp., et al., Debtors.the Hospital and University Property Damage Claimants, Appellants, v. Johns-manville Corporation, et al., 7 F.3d 32 (2nd Cir., Oct. 4, 1993)
  2. "Mary Rhinehart, Daniels Alumna and Executive Advisory Board Member, Named President and CEO of Johns Manville | Daniels College of Business". 2014. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  3. Castleman, Barry (2005). Asbestos: Medical and Legal Aspects. Aspen, CO: Aspen Publishing. pp. 609–613. ISBN 0-7355-5260-6.
  4. Castleman, at page 609.
  5. Was Aguirre Prophetic on Manville Filing?" San Diego Daily Transcript (October 28, 1982)
  6. "83 San Diegans to Watch in '83". San Diego Magazine (January 1983) p. 105
  7. Manville Personal Injury Trust Official Website, accessed, May 6, 2012
  8. Thompson, David; G. Marcus Cole (2007). "The Intersection of Bankruptcy and Mass Torts". In Robert Rammusen. Bankruptcy Stories. Foundation Press. ISBN 1-59941-018-4.

External links

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