Leadership Outlook

Feb. 12, 2019

State of the Business: 2019 Outlook

By Tommy Knappich, Johns Manville General Manager of Building Insulation

We’ve heard customers ask, “What is Johns Manville’s outlook for 2019?”

Before looking into the future, I’d like to reflect on the past year – most notably, recognizing the impacts of the overall U.S. economy:

  • The fiberglass market was up 4.4 percent in pounds shipped through Q3 2018 when compared to Q3 2017. 

  • GDP growth in the second and third quarters was 4.2 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively. 

  • From a headwind perspective, housing starts declined slightly during Summer 2018 and, as a result of the slight decline, many building products distributor and contractor stocks lost over 50 percent of their value.

  • Despite that, 2018 was a solid year for the insulation industry, with many contractors and distributors stating that it was their best year since 2006.

Over the past two months, we’ve met with architects, building owners, builders, contractors and distributors to discuss their outlook for 2019. Builders are still very confident – wages are rising, interest rates seem to have stabilized, unemployment is at record lows, and household formation continues to see growth. All of this translates in housing construction edging higher.

Many contractors have told us that they have record backlogs going into 2019. But a challenge for the industry will be continued inflationary pressure on materials, services, wages and transportation. Additionally, continued transportation inflation will be a key area to watch out for in 2019.

So, “What is JM’s outlook for 2019?” We see continued mid-single digit growth in the insulation industry through 2019. JM is continuing to make investments into our insulation plants and new products as we see continued industry growth. Slow, steady, consistent growth, similar to 2018, is the outlook. 

Oct. 18, 2018

State of the Business, Q4 2018: Continued Growth and an Optimistic Outlook

By Tommy Knappich, Johns Manville General Manager of Building Insulation

Johns Manville has seen strong momentum across all facets of our Insulation Business – we saw an uptick beginning in the second quarter of 2018 and have maintained a steady increase into the third quarter of this year. While all channels are performing well, the market has grown from mid-single digits to high-single digits based on growth in the blowing wool and spray foam categories.

Multifamily, hospitality and warehouse segments, have been drivers in commercial growth with continued sales of blowing wool, metal building insulation, mineral wool and sheathing. The residential new construction channel is also showing strong growth with batts, blowing wool, and rigid polyiso sheathing all showing strong sales. 

JM recently restarted our Penbryn, NJ fiberglass facility due to our confidence in the continued growth of the market. This facility will be key to delivering product solutions to our customers in the Northeast and to also support the overall insulation market growth. 

One of the primary challenges that we continue to keep a close eye on is inflation on raw materials and transportation. Transportation costs is an area we are working on diligently- driver shortages, strong industry demand and the implementation of electronic logging devices (ELDs) are all key factors in driving up overall transportation costs.

August housing starts were up 9.4 percent year-over-year.  While there are some headwinds in the residential segment – including interest rates and high home prices – growth is steady.  We’re optimistic that growth will continue through at least 2020. All in all, it’s a great time to be in the insulation business whether you are a manufacturer, contractor or distributor.