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Published: Wednesday, 8/1/2001

Owens Corning raises warranty on products


Amidst increasing competition up on the rooftop, Toledo-based Owens Corning said yesterday it is offering longer warranties on asphalt shingles and other roofing products.

The firm boosted to five years from one year the time it will cover the full cost of labor and materials on shingles with warranties of 25, 30, and 40 years. Full coverage will be extended to 10 years from 7 years on complete roofing packages with warranties of 25 years.

After the full coverage period expires, the company will pay for a portion of replacement costs, depending on the age of the roof.

Among other changes, OC is allowing more liberal transfer of warranties to subsequent home owners. Previously, warranties could be transferred only during the first two years of the roof. That has been extended to anytime during the life of the warranty as long as the new owner pays a $50 transfer fee.

The changes comes against the backdrop of industry mergers and increasing capacity.

Rival CertainTeed Corp., a unit of France's Saint-Gobain, has grown from a regional player to one of the top three producers in the United States. The firm last year in its third major acquisition in as many years purchased the roofing business of Celotex Corp., of Tampa, Fla.

Officials of OC, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year, say the company continues to be the nation's largest maker of residential roofing shingles with a 25 percent market share. Other key players include CertatinTeed, of Valley Forge, Pa., GAF Materials Corp., of Wayne, N.J., and TAMKO Roofing Products, of Joplin, Mo.

Roofing materials are part of OC's $1 billion a year exterior systems business.

OC and Canada's IKO Industries are about to open a $50 million plant in Danville, Ill. to produce glass fiber mat, a key component of roofing shingles. The two firms, which will share the output, describe the facility as the largest such plant in the world.

The Toledo firm late last year added a line to a roofing plant in Irving, Texas.

Despite a slowing economy, demand for roofing materials is solid, according to Joe Hobson, a spokesman for the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association. “The housing market is strong and the industry is strong,” he said.

Competition is keenest in high-end - and more profitable - laminate shingles, which mimic the look of shake shingles. Nine of 15 OC roofing plants make the product.

“We wanted to make sure that our warranties continue to be competitive,” said Vikie Vella, an OC product manager in roofing.

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