Owens Corning Fiberglass

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Owens Corning is a Toledo, Ohio-based company that specializes in, and is considered a "leader in roofing, insulation and fiberglass composites", as well as one of the major employers in Licking County, for 80 years.[1] Frequently recognized by its "spokesfeline", United Artists' Pink Panther, Owens Corning is known around the world, if not by name, then by its trademark pink insulation (that's right, Owens-Corning copyrighted a color in May of 1987, the first corporation to do so). Owens Corning has a plant in Newark, Ohio at 400 Case Avenue, which was originally built in 1880 by the Newark Star Glass Company, and maintains production today.[2] The Case Avenue plant has been a staple for many in Licking County, frequently employing multiple generations of the same family.[3] In January of 1934, The Newark Advocate’s headline read “Plant’s Opening Confirmed: Will Manufacture New Products for Owens-Illinois Co.”, so began Newark’s long Fiberglas legacy.

Owens Corning website.


Games Russell Slayter is credited as being the "Father of Fiberglass", owing to a patent issued to him in 1938 (U.S. Patent 2,133,236) that described a method for creating fiberglass as well as diagrams for the production of fiberglass and explaining accommodations made within the process.[4]

"Fiberglas™" is the term trademarked by Owens Corning Fiberglas Corporation and is, in basic terms: "glass in the form of fine fibers or filaments" that can be "fabricated into resilient, wool-like bats or rigid, sawable boards, or that can be woven on a loom like cotton silk or wool". Initially, air filters were commonly associated with fiberglass, but that was at the “birth” of fiberglass, by Games Slayter and before the World War II years.[5]

Creation of Owens Corning

Owens Corning Fiberglas Corporation came into existence officially in 1938, when Toledo-based Owens-Illinois Glass Company and Corning Glass Works of New York combined their efforts in the research and development of "Fiberglas" and formed Owens Corning Fiberglas Corporation. Although the two companies had been conducting research into fiberglass manufacturing processes and knowledge since 1931, 1938 marked their merging and creation of a company devoted to Fiberglas and its subsequent products and uses. The newly formed company acquired all Fiberglas-related research, development and manufacturing information the two companies had conducted and claimed the factory on Case Avenue as its flagship production site.[6]

World War II Production

Demand for Fiberglas™ boomed during the Second World War with so many materials being required for the war effort. Fiberglas™, with its variety of uses and formats, met "demands for replacement of metals that have (sic.) gone to war." [7]

Few products went into production and were in high demand as quickly as Fiberglas™. Within three years of Owens Corning's creation, the Japanese would attack and devastate Pearl Harbor drawing the United States fully into World War II and initiating a need for military and defense equipment the likes of which it had never seen before.[8] Fiberglas™ materials were used "wherever heat is conserved, controlled or excluded; wherever fabrics are required to withstand heat, damp, or decay; wherever air is cleaned or conditioned." There was a need and use for Fiberglas products from the body of airplanes to Navy ships and submarines, to parachute flare shields and diving suits for Navy divers.[9] Fiberglas was so suitable for war-time because it possesses "high tensile strength, moisture resistance, longevity – it's about the only thing that isn't bothered by the March of Time- invulnerability to the sun and mildew and superior characteristics which make it useful in a wide range of applications, from fine wires used in telephone and radios, to huge motors and generators".[10]

After World War II, Owens Corning returned to its peace-time roots, focusing on materials for construction and recreational use. Reinforced plastic applications and further Fiberglas product innovations dominated the remainder of the 1940s and, in 1952, Owens-Corning opened for public trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Alleged increased tension between the production and research departments at the Newark plant were cited as an issue and in August of 1955, Owens Corning purchased the H.C. Penny farm in Granville, Ohio to be the site of what would, eventually become the Owens Corning Science and Technology Center, which, at its peak capacity, employed nearly 1000 people and is responsible for many of the 3,000+ patents the company holds domestically.[11]

Growth and Sustainability of Owens Corning

In the last several decades, Owens Corning has faced seemingly insurmountable hurdles and not only survived but thrived. In August of 1986, Wickes Companies Incorporated attempted a hostile, unsolicited takeover that, in order to avoid, caused Owens Corning to restructure in order to maintain independence, causing many employees in Licking County to be laid off. However, the corporation set up programs that helped employees find other jobs, get training for potential new positions, create and update job-seeker documents and, if all else failed, apply for unemployment.

In the early 2000s, Owens Corning filed for bankruptcy protection in 2000 (Chapter 11) "in an effort to shield itself from claims for billions of dollars in damages linked to health-endangering asbestos products it made decades ago". “Asbestos” is a common term for minerals that were frequently used in insulation, fire-proofing and building materials until the early 1970s. It was found that, when inhaled, these minerals can cause major lung, heart and breathing to, including cancer and/or heart failure.[12]

Many Licking County residents were laid off as a result of the second restructuring. However, through negotiations and restructuring, Owens Corning emerged from bankruptcy in November of 2006 after creating a $5 billion dollar fund for those affected by its asbestos-containing products that had been made decades before. [13]

Pollution reduction and sustainability have become a focus for Owens Corning in its recent history. The parking lot of the Toledo headquarters is covered by a solar-panel canopy that produces approximately 3-million kilowatt hours of power every year; using environmentally safe and ethical cleaning products and methods are a major focus of the corporation;

Timeline of Notable Dates

  • 1938 – Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corporation begins production at the Case Avenue plant in Newark, Ohio.
  • 1953 - The Chevrolet Corvette became the first production automobile with a completely Fiberglas body.[14]
  • 1984 = Owens Corning had 75 plants in the world. [15]
  • 1988 = 50th Anniversary
  • 1994 - "MiraFlex", a product developed at the Science and Technology Center
  • 1999 – 1,600 employed by Owens Corning in Licking County. [16]
  • 2006 – Owens Corning emerged from bankruptcy, having continued production and growth. At this time, Owens Corning employeed 20,000 people in 26 countries.
  • 2007 – 950 employed in Licking County. [17]
  • 2008-2013 - Owens Corning ceased production of residential insulation, citing the “collapse of the national housing market” as the cause; at this time the Case Avenue plant employed about 550 people.[18]
  • 2009 – 700 employed at the Case Avenue Plant [19]
  • 2013 = 75th Anniversary



  1. https://www.owenscorning.com/ accessed August 5, 2017.
  2. Dana Griffith. “Owens-Corning Celebrates 50 Years of Glass Fiber Production in Newark,” The Newark Advocate, May 14, 1984.
  3. Dan Gearino, “Newark’s Owens Corning Fiberglass Plant a Tight-Knit Operation,” The Columbus Dispatch, September 14, 2014.
  4. J. T. White, "Games Russell Slayter," National Cyclopaedia of Ameican Biography(Clifton, N.J.: J.T. White, 1968), 50.
  5. Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corporation, Fiberglas, a New Basic Material: Its Development, Properties, Manufacture and Its Use in War or Peace (Toledo, OH: Owens-Corning Fiberglas, 1943).
  6. Owens Corning Fiberglas Corporation, Fiberglas, a New Basic Material: Its Development, Properties, Manufacture and Its Use in War or Peace.
  7. J. R. Hildebrand. "Glass "Goes to Town"," The National Geographic Magazine, January 1943
  8. Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corporation, Fiberglas, a New Basic Material: Its Development, Properties, Manufacture and Its Use in War or Peace.
  9. Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corporation, Fiberglas, a New Basic Material: Its Development, Properties, Manufacture and Its Use in War or Peace.
  10. Ruth Taylor, "Little Glass Marble Plays Major Role in Textile Division of Owens-corning Fiberglas Plant," The Newark Advocate, April 24, 1941.
  11. Drew Bracken, “Owens Corning: Thousands of Patents,” The Newark Advocate, March 30, 2003.
  12. "Owens Corning Forms Bankruptcy Plan," The Newark Advocate, May 11, 2016.
  13. Mark Szakonyi, “Owens Corning Leaves Bankruptcy,” The Newark Advocate, November 1, 2006.
  14. "OC@75: A Heritage of Innovation." Owens Corning Corporation. Accessed August 8, 2017, http://www.ocpreferred.com/acquainted/about/history
  15. Owens Corning Now US ("Owens-Corning now has 75 Plants, Newark Advocate 5/17/1984)
  16. Kent Mallett, “Owens Corning Face Furloughs,” The Newark Advocate, January 21, 2009.
  17. Mallett, “Owens Corning Face Furloughs.”
  18. Kent Mallet, “Owens Corning Again Producing Residential Insulation, Filling Jobs,” The Newark Advocate, January 8, 2013.
  19. Mallett, “Owens Corning Face Furloughs.”