Founded in 1938, Owens Corning is a world leader within the fiberglass industry. The global company had an annual sales volume of $4.8 billion in 2009, with almost half dedicated to the composites industry. Among its largest segments are wind power, water distribution, industrial applications and transportation. Chuck Dana, president of Owens Corning’s Composite Solutions Business, gives us his perspective on where the market is growing.
How do you see the industry evolving in the next few years?
There is a growing market with big demands for all types of applications where composites excel, such as infrastructure, water and energy, especially within the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China – and I’d include Mexico.
You say you’re optimistic of 2010 and beyond. What is triggering that optimism?
First, our customers; they continue to be create and find creative solutions for their customers. Also, as tough as last year was operationally, we didn’t reduce spending on technology or research. A reflection of that was when we launched our new S-glass reinforcements (for the defense and ballistics market) last fall despite the economy. I’m optimistic of continued growth as the industry moves more into new market spaces like archery equipment (sports and recreation), as well as aerospace and industrial applications.
What other areas do you see potential for growth?
Renewable energy, including wind energy, continues to be an attractive market. That’s no surprise, but it’s a mega trend that over the next 10 years has big potential for the composites market. I also see potential in solar energy. While it is less developed as we speak, solar applications are evolving in many different directions.
Is that what has captured your attention?
Looking forward, generally applications where corrosion resistance is an important factor has big potential. You hear that water is going to be the new oil, and the global water industry is a big market. We see huge potential just focusing on the movement of water in and out of homes and buildings. Currently, the segment that really captures our attention is pipe relining. One way to fix a pipe that is broken is to dig it up. You have to spend money digging a trench, taking out the pipe and putting in a new one. However, the newest technology is to reline it from the inside out. There is also potential in piping for sewers, desalinization plants, and carbon sequestration plants. It’s a piece of market that is advancing so quickly, and a place where fiberglass products have an opportunity to provide good solution at a moderate cost.