Johns Manville workers train on new equipment
A major equipment investment at a Richmond manufacturer is key to retaining more than 100 jobs and keeping the plant viable for at least eight to 10 more years, local economic development officials said.
Johns Manville (JM), which makes insulation and commercial roofing, as well as glass fibers and nonwovens for commercial, industrial, and residential applications, resumed production at the west-side plant earlier this month after closing for the extensive equipment installation.
Economic Development Corp. of Wayne County officials said the new equipment is essential to JM’s manufacturing process for blowing wool insulation at 814 Richmond Ave.
JM has invested more than $20 million, retained 107 existing full-time employees, and added two new full-time apprenticeship positions.
The company shut down operations April 24 to completely rebuild a glass melter and fiberglass collection chambers. Upgrades were made to electrical and controls equipment, and new robotics were installed.
EDC President Valerie Shaffer told the board during its July 11 meeting that JM made a “very impressive investment” that the EDC views as a retention project.
New and existing employees started training June 20 to learn about the new equipment when they returned to the plant, and it is ongoing, according to Andrea Stuckey, who manages human resources.
Production resumed July 2.
To support the workers’ training, the EDC board unanimously approved a $50,000 Economic Development Income Tax (EDIT) Grant during its meeting.
Shafer said JM offered an immense amount of training for its staff on the new equipment, and the EDC loves to see companies offer continuing education.
“It’s always a positive when a company invests in their workforce and in upgrading their operations,” Shaffer said.
She told the EDC board that two other JM plants produce insulation similar to Richmond, and had it not been for this investment, the local plant would no longer be viable within the company.
After receiving the EDC’s approval, Wayne County Commissioners Mary Anne Butters and Ken Paust voted 2-0 on July 13 to advance the plan to Wayne County Council, which was expected to discuss the matter July 20 after press time for this edition.
Don Heaslip, manager of the Richmond plant, said he and the employees are thrilled about the improvements and grateful for the EDC’s backing.
“We continue to invest in our business, customers and communities,” Heaslip said in a news release. “Growing the availability of our products while creating new jobs is a win-win – and having the support of the EDC makes doing so even more meaningful.”
Founded in 1858, JM is headquartered in Denver, Colorado, and has 46 manufacturing facilities across North America and Europe employing 8,000 people. It is a member of the Berkshire Hathaway family of companies.
The local plant is Richmond Power & Light’s largest industrial customer, EDC officials noted.
“Johns Manville has continually shown a commitment to this community and its workforce through their growth and investment,” said Richmond Mayor Dave Snow in the release. It’s been a pleasure to partner in their continued success.”

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