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Published: Saturday, 8/5/2006

Johns Manville on track to open $100M addition in Defiance in fall

DEFIANCE - Johns Manville expects to open a $100 million addition to its Carpenter Road factory as planned this fall, finally replacing and upgrading a Richfield Township pipe-insulation plant lost in a fire more than three years ago.

The Denver subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. recently called back and hired 40 workers, some of whom are replacing people transferring into the new 100-employee manufacturing and warehouse addition from one of Johns Manville's two Defiance factories, spokesman Melody Dunbar said.

The addition's highly automated multiple production lines, which will make insulation used to wrap building pipes, will be phased in through next year, Ms. Dunbar said.

"Those lines will begin to start up as early as the fall," she said.

Johns Mansville has 650 employees in Defiance, down from about 900 when the fire destroyed the company's Columbus Avenue factory in May, 2003.

A natural-gas line failed and was ignited by production equipment in the 250-employee factory, and workers were evacuated.

More people may need to be hired as the new operation gets under way, Ms. Dunbar said.

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