Wabash, IN, August 22, 2012 – Marilyn Custer-Mitchell, Wabash County Chamber of Commerce Board Chair, announces Thermafiber as the 2012 Business of the Year. “The level of dedication that Thermafiber has invested in this community is evident through their commitment to quality products and services,” stated Custer-Mitchell. “Celebrating their success and community impact is part of the Chamber’s mission.”
Steve Edris, President & CEO for Thermafiber, responded to the announcement, “We are quite proud to be a partner in the community. Being named Business of the Year is a great honor and accomplishment. We are very grateful to the Chamber, the community, our suppliers, and most importantly our employees and customers, for their help in our success.”
Thermafiber was officially formed in 1996 when USG Corporation sold the mineral wool manufacturing plants in Birmingham, Tacoma, and Wabash. However, the company’s history in Wabash County dates back 78 years when the first factory was constructed.
In 1934, Brigadier General Robert Wood and Michael Luery, both West Point Military Academy graduates and WWI veterans, located their factory at the current site west of the city of Wabash, Indiana. They selected the site due to the Mississinewa shale limestone that was suitable for melting to make rock wool insulation. General Wood was best known for his leadership of Sears, Roebuck and Company where he was Chairman from 1939 to 1954 and led the conversion of that company from being a catalog business to a department store retailer. He was also credited with creating Allstate Insurance, then a subsidiary of Sears.
From 1934 to 1959, the company, operating as American Rock Wool, grew from a single plant to many situated across the U.S. In 1959, the business was sold to United States Gypsum, a large building materials conglomerate based in Chicago. USG enjoyed success with the Wabash plant for 36 years before deciding to exit the insulation business. It was in 1996 when the first of four private equity groups acquired the business and the company name was changed to Thermafiber, a well-known brand owned by the company.
Today Thermafiber produces mineral wool insulation made from a combination of slag and natural rock. Slag is a waste product of steel production and comes to Thermafiber in the form of a rock. Every year Thermafiber recycles around 150 million pounds of waste slag into their products. In the manufacturing process the rocks are heated in cupola furnaces at temperatures in excess of 2,600°F, converting them back to a molten lava state. The molten material is then spun into fibers with a combination of compressed air and high-speed spinning wheels.
Thermafiber will be honored at the Wabash County Chamber of Commerce 71th Annual Dinner meeting to be held Thursday, October 18, 2012. The event is open to the public. Tickets will be available in September.