The Gypsum Files

Notes on the Rock Nobody Knows

Posts Tagged ‘National Gypsum Company

25 Years of Gold Bond Leadership

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25 Years of Gold Bond Leadership

I found this button on eBay during one of my routine searches for gypsum industry collectibles. If anyone knows more about the occasion for this pin — it commemorates National Gypsum’s twenty-fifth anniversary, but who received the pins? — leave a comment below.

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Written by Elizabeth McCullough

June 4, 2014 at 7:00 am

CDC confirms health issues connected to Chinese drywall

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SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. — For the first time, the federal government confirms that tainted drywall can cause home and health problems, according to a long-awaited report by the Centers for Disease Control….

It’s an issue some are still living with. Many might not even know it. The report also indicates that “not all of the homes contain drywall manufactured in China. Some problem homes contain drywall manufactured in North America and some have drywall with no indication of origin.”

“This isn’t Chinese. This is United States Gypsum.” North Port resident Charles Hummer has turned his home into a laboratory of tainted drywall, researching the effects and how it all came to be. He says his health and home problems are caused by drywall which doesn’t have a foreign label.

He says you have to follow the money. “Knauf brought in all the Chinese drywall. Knauf also owns part of United States Gypsum. Knauf also owns part of National Gypsum. United States Gypsum also owns L&W Supply, which is doing business as Seacoast Supply.”

CDC confirms health issues connected to Chinese drywall – Sarasota News | Mysuncoast.com and ABC 7: Local News.

“Some problem homes contain drywall manufactured in North America” is a little misleading. Designated “problem homes” are based on occupant reports and observation of symptoms and effects such as corroded metal fixtures and “recurrent headaches, irritated and itchy eyes and skin, difficulty breathing, persistent cough, runny nose, sinus infections and congestion, sore throats, frequent nosebleeds, and asthma attacks.” It has not been proven that North American drywall causes any of these symptoms.

In fact, the report goes on to advise, “Based on the limited number of drywall samples tested, exposures to the estimated contaminant levels from drywall samples manufactured in North America in 2009 were below levels of public health concern. These samples were not identified by CPSC as problem drywall.” (My emphasis.) However, some homeowners assert that domestic wallboard causes these problems as well.

As for following the money, Knauf does own part of USG Corporation. National Gypsum is a privately owned company.

Written by Elizabeth McCullough

May 7, 2014 at 8:00 am

National Gypsum to close Shoals mine late this summer

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This is big news for the town of Shoals, Indiana, home to two gypsum plants:

National Gypsum, the second largest gypsum producer in the US, which runs the biggest gypsum mine in the world, will stop mining activities at Shoals mine in Indiana, where the plant will produce synthetic gypsum from flue gas desulphurisation FGD.
via National Gypsum will close one gypsum mine in the US | Industrial Minerals.

The plant will be adapted to use the synthetic gypsum, which is purer than mined gypsum, at a cost of around $15 million. The changeover will affect 21 miners.

(In case you’re curious, the “biggest gypsum mine in the world” is a quarry in Nova Scotia, which supplies rock for National Gypsum‘s East Coast plants.)

Geologists have noted the existence of gypsum in Southern Indiana since at least 1922. But it wasn’t until the 1950s that it was determined there was a substantial deposit of gypsum in Shoals worth mining. The front page of The Shoals News dated December 26, 1952, announced the news:

whitegold

Written by Elizabeth McCullough

April 15, 2014 at 8:00 am

Soldiers of Production, The World War II Bluebonnet Ordnance Plant

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Written by Elizabeth McCullough

February 1, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Cheaper fuel, public outcry doomed tire burner » News » The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

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NEW COLUMBIA — It was the citizens’ voice — and the plummeting price of natural gas — that prompted National Gypsum to halt plans for a West Milton power generation plant fueled by burning tires, the Charlotte, N.C., company said Friday.Meanwhile, En-Tire Logistics LLC of Bedford, Texas, which would have operated the facility, plans to regroup and pursue a tire-derived fuel plant elsewhere in Pennsylvania, its chief executive officer told The Daily Item on Friday.

National Gypsum would have bought steam and electricity produced from the plant En-Tire planned to install and operate next to National Gypsum’s Union County facility, a recycled paper plant that uses natural gas to fuel its boiler.  However, with the price of natural gas considerably lower, using the tire-burning power generator no longer offered a cost savings to National Gypsum, the company said.

via Cheaper fuel, public outcry doomed tire burner » News » The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA.

Written by Elizabeth McCullough

January 12, 2014 at 12:39 am

Melvin H. Baker’s Newcomen Society Address, 1954

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Cover of “National Gypsum: Pattern for Growth”

Melvin H. Baker, one of the founders of the National Gypsum Company, was invited to speak before the Newcomen Society in North America in Buffalo, New York, on May 6, 1954. The American Newcomen Society was a branch of the original Newcomen Society founded in London in 1920, about 200 years after Thomas Newcomen invented the first practical steam engine for pumping water out of mines.  The society was organized to celebrate the industrial achievement kicked off by Newcomen’s revolutionary invention, taking as their motto, actorum memores simul affectamus agenda, “Mindful of things that have taken place, at the same time we strive after things yet to be done.”

In Mr. Baker’s address to the American Newcomeners, he is mindful that, relatively speaking, his twenty-nine year old company does not yet have a long history:

I believe it is customary in these meetings for the speaker to talk about his company, its history, and traditions. National Gypsum Company is too young to have a history, but we believe you will find in the pattern of its growth an interesting story. Time will not permit a graphic account of human emotions other than to say that its conception and the day-to-day struggle for its development is a story of men always with faith in themselves and faith in America.

In tracing the development of National Gypsum from its founding in 1925 to its status in 1954 as a company with “35 plants and 22 offices,” Baker touches on this theme again and again: the struggle of men with faith in themselves and in America — specifically, an America with bountiful natural resources, a lightly regulated capitalist economy, and room to “found a corporation with an unusually strong sense of responsibility to its employees, owners, customers, and neighbors.”

Baker begins by saying, “You will understand when I explain that mine was a firm founded without capital, no customers, no manufacturing facilities, or tangible assets of any kind…What made us found a new company in a highly competitive field in such circumstances? The American idea, the possibility of profit from taking a risk, success that comes through venturesome spirit!” What follows is a rather exciting story of a company that within four years of its founding would be facing a world-wide Great Depression and resulting construction slump. Rather than taking the safe route of riding out the depression, National Gypsum expanded its holdings and product lines during this time: “By the close of 1941, the company was manufacturing and marketing 150 building material products; and it was making a profit as it had in every year of its existence except 1929.”

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World War II brought a virtual halt to new home construction, but National Gypsum was well placed to contribute to the war effort. Baker sent this telegram to Secretary of War Henry Stimson the day after the Pearl Harbor attack:

The management of this corporation believes that business should go all out for quick, decisive victory over Japan, and to this end, this company’s resources, technical knowledge and the production at its twenty-one plants are at your disposal.

By February 1942,  “the share of the company’s production going into war uses had risen to 40 percent,” including a commitment to build the massive Bluebonnet Ordnance Plant in Texas.

In the remainder of his speech, Baker covered the explosion of the post-WWII housing market and continuing expansion of the company into new markets and new product areas, one of which would come back to haunt the construction industry:

We are now in the midst of an extensive exploration program for the location of asbestos deposits. When located, mining operations will be built from which to supply asbestos fibre necessary for lower cost and continuous supply required at manufacturing plants recently acquired.

But those problems lay in the future. On May 6, 1954, Baker ended his speech on an upbeat note:

There, briefly, is the National Gypsum story! As you have seen, we are not a mature company. Growth in the past can be considered only a down payment on the future. Specifically, what the accomplishments will be, no one can say. But as long as the American System rewards initiative, I predict that present levels are mere road signs to the future.

The text of Melvin Baker’s speech was distributed as a pamphlet titled, “National Gypsum: Pattern for Growth.” Oddly, it’s illustrated with woodcut prints of English scenes having nothing to do with the content. The booklet is a fascinating contemporaneous look at a booming “Mad Men” era industry, a paean to capitalism at the height of its glory, and a charmingly old-fashioned piece of printed matter in its own right.

Written by Elizabeth McCullough

September 17, 2013 at 5:55 pm

American-Made Drywall Emerges as Potential Danger – ProPublica

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Ninety-seven homeowners in four states have joined lawsuits against U.S. drywall manufacturers in the past year, claiming that their drywall is releasing enough sulfur gas to corrode wiring and appliances and cause headaches, nosebleeds, labored breathing and irritated eyes—complaints that until now have been mostly associated with Chinese drywall. Many families have abandoned their homes, fearing long-term health problems. Some are facing foreclosure, or even bankruptcy.

via American-Made Drywall Emerges as Potential Danger – ProPublica.

Written by Elizabeth McCullough

December 16, 2010 at 2:47 pm

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