homepage logo

Rockwool facility on target for April opening

By Toni Milbourne - For the Chronicle | Sep 18, 2020

Peter Regenberg, vice president of U.S. Operations for Rockwool, pointed out what is termed the "hot" end of the factory, where rock will be spun into stone-wool insulation. Toni Milbourne

RANSON — Activity at the Rockwool site, located on approximately 130 acres in Ranson, is reaching its busiest time, according to public affairs manager Paul Espinosa. Work is moving on schedule, for a planned spring 2021 opening of the plant, which will manufacture stone-wool insulation.

Rockwool is the world’s leading manufacturer of the stone-wool insulation, and has been in business for 80 years. Originating in Denmark in 1937, the company has expanded to build 46 plants in 22 different countries.

Ranson’s location, the 46th for the company, was selected because of its location, which is in proximity to potential buyers along the mid-Atlantic and the northeast.

“Transportation of a product to customers can be one of the biggest expenses,” Espinosa said, mentioning the location will lessen transportation distances and costs for the company. “This will in turn reduce the environmental impact in transportation of goods.”

Peter Regenberg, vice president of US operations for Rockwool, emphasized how important it is to the company to develop the most efficient processes.

“Due diligence systems may be the best way to say it,” Regenberg said, explaining that the top priorities for the Ranson location, as well as the company overall, include health and safety, quality and the environment.

During a tour of the facility, Regenberg and Espinosa pointed out storm water ponds that will be used to collect water for use within the facility.

“Our hope would be to have up to 90 percent of our water source come from the sky,” Regenberg said.

While the facility is connected to city water, they plan to use that connection solely for staff amenities, such as bathrooms, kitchens and showers.

“Our waste-to-landfill goal is zero,” Regenberg said, indicating the decision made to use only natural gas instead of coal that was initially part of the plan for the facility, allows what is used inside the building to stay inside the building, not be dumped in to the sewer system.

“This provides a 30-percent reduction in the carbon footprint, going to gas,” Regenberg said. “I am extremely proud of this, as part of our continuous improvements.”

Going one step above the required protocol from the Department of Environmental Protection, Rockwool has lined their storm water ponds with three layers of lining rather than two.

“It cost half a million dollars to put in this added layer,” Regenberg said. “But that is part of the due diligence.”

In addition, Rockwool is installing monitoring wells on their property to regularly keep track of what is in the ground water and the water in the storage ponds. The monitoring will be overseen by an independent company.

With a planned spring opening, the company is on-target to hire approximately 150 employees. While applications were being taken prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the process was placed on hold because of the inability for those hired to receive sufficient training, some of which they will have to travel to obtain. The hiring process has begun again and Espinosa shared that approximately 20 percent of those hired will be for supervisory positions, while the other 80 percent will be production positions.

“We are just really thrilled to be here,” Regenberg said. “For the most part, the community has been great and people have been positive about us. We believe this will be a great home for us.”