LUMBERYARDS

USG to invest in Oman drywall plant

BY Brae Canlen

USG Corp. has announced it will invest $60 million in a strategic partnership with the Zawawi Group of Oman to meet the growing demand for its wallboard products in the Middle East and India. The money will be invested over two years, with the majority in 2012.

“This is an important step forward in our strategic initiative to diversify the sources of USG’s earnings by investing in higher-growth international markets,” said James Metcalf, chairman, president and CEO. “The market in India and more broadly in the Middle East represents an attractive growth opportunity.”

The first phase will be the establishment of a mining joint venture through which USG will acquire 55% of Zawawi Gypsum, which holds the mining rights to a gypsum quarry in Salalah, Oman. The joint venture will develop infrastructure and operate the quarry. Salalah has shipping access to many ports on the Indian coast and will provide gypsum to future USG wallboard plants, as well as to cement manufacturers in the region. Quarry mining operations are targeted for startup in the third quarter of 2013.

The second phase of the partnership will be a 50/50 manufacturing joint venture with Zawawi Minerals to build and operate a new low-cost wallboard plant in the Salalah Free Zone, Oman. The Free Zone in Oman is an enterprise zone that has been operational for three years and has attracted in excess of $4 billion in investments from international companies. The plant site is in close proximity to the gypsum quarry and port facilities, facilitating efficient access into markets in India and the Middle East. The target for commencement of wallboard production operations is the fourth quarter of 2013.

Chris Griffin, executive VP operations, said: “Through the joint ventures, we believe that we can enhance our success in India by securing the strategic gypsum rock source in Oman, and cost-effectively shipping products to India, thereby accelerating USG wallboard penetration in the region. USG’s strong brand recognition and state-of-the-art technology combined with Zawawi’s local strength, resources and management expertise should contribute to increased sales and profitable growth for both organizations.”

USG also announced that it is exploring strategic alternatives for its wholly owned European operations, including their possible sale. Those businesses include the manufacture and distribution of ceiling grid systems and finishing compounds throughout Europe and Russia.

Headquartered in Chicago, USG Corp. is a manufacturer and distributor of building products through United States Gypsum Company, USG Interiors, and L&W Supply Corp. and other subsidiaries. 

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Oldcastle rebrands SureTouch as EnduraMax

BY Ken Clark

Oldcastle Architectural, producer of concrete masonry products, has renamed its high-performance wall system with the new name of EnduraMax. 

The change — the product was previously known as SureTouch — better communicates its performance offering and reflects its place as a new perspective on a traditional product, the company said.

“This renaming represents changes in our product and in the masonry industry as a whole,” said Michael Rohrer, product manager for EnduraMax, which was launched five years ago in Canada and came to the United States just over one year ago.

 “Architects and contractors today are seeking a combination of features and benefits in cladding, from products that meet high energy efficiency codes and moisture-management needs to materials that offer ease-of-installation on the job site.” 

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Saint-Gobain lends a hand in Philadelphia

BY Ken Clark

Worldwide building materials company Saint-Gobain helped The Philadelphia Chapter of Rebuilding Together hold a three-day community rebuilding effort at 62nd Street and Lancaster Avenue. 

The Valley Forge, Pa.-based company sent several employee volunteers to the site.

“We are grateful for the financial and volunteer support of Saint-Gobain and its employees,” said Carrie Rathman, executive director of Rebuilding Together Philadelphia. “As we strive to create safe, efficient and healthy homes for hundreds of low-income homeowners throughout Philadelphia, we are dependent on socially responsible corporations like Saint-Gobain and CertainTeed that share a commitment to transforming homes — and the lives of residents.”

With the support of employee volunteers from its contributing sponsors including Saint-Gobain and its largest North American subsidiary CertainTeed, Building a Healthy Neighborhood will yield improvements to nearly 30 homes owned by low-income families, veterans and people with disabilities. Home improvements will include a variety of critical home repair needs, including plumbing, roofing, energy-efficient upgrades, safe rails and doorways, exterior repairs and landscaping, as well as accessibility modifications for people with disabilities. A new playground and repairs and modifications at the community center are also planned.

“With more than 800 employees headquartered in the Philadelphia region, we are committed to applying the power of our people and their building expertise to enhance the communities where we live and work,” said John Crowe, president and CEO of Saint-Gobain and CertainTeed. 

 

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