Certainteed: 100 Years of Building America

May 1, 2004
This year marks the 100th anniversary of CertainTeed Corporation, one of the country's leading manufacturers of building products for the residential

This year marks the 100th anniversary of CertainTeed Corporation, one of the country's leading manufacturers of building products for the residential and commercial construction trades. However, the company’s start came about because of one man's interest in manufacturing a safer roofing material.

In 1904, 80% of the roofing shingles in the U.S. were wood, which ignited easily. To address this situation, George M. Brown established the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturing Company, where he perfected two varieties of asphalt roofing material as an alternative to wood shingles.

The business quickly grew, and by the time World War I broke, every fifth roll of asphalt roofing paper sold in the U.S. and Canada was Brown's.

Incorporation and Expansion

After adding a complete line of paints and varnishes, the General Roofing and Manufacturing Company changed its name to Certain-teed Products Corp- oration, which was a contraction of the company slogan, "Quality made CERTAIN . . . Satisfaction GuaranTEED."

In 1920, Brown diversified into floor covering and later, into gypsum wall board. By 1927, Certain-teed's sales were at an all-time high.

However, by 1928, business was beginning to falter. The markets Certain-teed depended on — urban and rural homebuilders — were no longer expanding at earlier levels.

When Brown resigned as president in 1935, Certain-teed employed more than 2,500 people. Although the country suffered a recession in 1937, rather than tighten all spending, Certain-teed responded by stepping up its research and development efforts.

The investment paid off in the development of the first asphalt shingle with a grain and texture that simulated actual wood.

George M. Brown died in 1938, the same year Celotex Corp. acquired working control of the company.

War Time and Boom Times

Through the difficult times of World War II, most of the company’s facilities were diverted to meet the requirements of the War Department.

However, at the end of the war, America went on an unprecedented spending spree, with demand for consumer goods far outstripping supply.

Certain-teed then opened its new state-of-the-art research and development facility in Paoli, PA, and by the end of 1954, business was booming.

Ready for further di- versification, the company acquired Wm. Cameron & Co., a major building supplies wholesaler and retailer.

The year 1962 saw the acquisition of the nation's second largest manufacturer of A/C pipe, and from 1963 to 1973, Certain-teed continued to expand, establishing a separate pipe division.

By 1965, it had entered the PVC pipe market with the acquisition of Plains Plastic. A natural outgrowth of the company's growing presence in PVC pipe, solid vinyl siding was also added to the Certain-teed family of building products. In 1975, Certain-teed began to manufacture its own PVC resin for both pipe and siding.

In the mid-1960s, Certain-teed sought ways to expand its opportunities in the fiber glass market. The biggest turning point was in 1967 when it formed a partnership with the French glass products leader, Saint-Gobain.

Nine years later, Certain-teed changed its name to CertainTeed Corporation.

Recent History

In 1979, CertainTeed pioneered the development of vinyl windows and today, has 16 million windows installed in American homes.

With the acquisition of Wolverine in 1988, CertainTeed also became a nationwide market leader in solid vinyl siding. The siding product line expanded in 1999 when CertainTeed acquired a fiber cement siding plant from ABTCO and introduced fiber cement siding.

Also in the 1990s, CertainTeed entered the vinyl decking, fence, and railing market with the acquisition of Bufftech Vinyl Fence, followed by the addition of composite decking and railing to its product line.

A Century of Progress

When George Brown founded the General Roofing Manufacturing Company in 1904, he couldn’t have imagined the explosive growth this country would experience in the following 100 years.

In its journey from a nation of slightly more than 82 million people in 1904 to the current count of approximately 288 million residents, the U.S. has become one of the most prosperous nations in the world. To accommodate that growth, America embarked on a building boom that has persisted through much of the last 100 years. CertainTeed Corp. has been a major contributor to that important effort.