How the GAF New Columbia Plant Became a Work of True Collaboration

By Karen L Edwards 11-23-2021
QUICK SHARE
Tag Icon

Building a brand-new 250,000-square-foot manufacturing plant and bringing it online takes collaboration, creativity, and teamwork. The newest GAF plant in New Columbia, Pennsylvania, is a testament to how hard work, support from the community, and flexibility all contributed to bringing this new facility to life.

Building a New Plant

New Columbia general manager Michael Widerquist explains that getting a plant ready for operations is a multiyear process, and building one during a pandemic made it especially challenging.

"With travel restrictions, we did not have the full support we would with a normal start-up," he says. "The GAF corporate support team is from all over the USA. We had to adapt quickly and get used to doing normal tasks remotely."

Logistics were a challenge, with much of the equipment coming from Europe. Fifty shipping containers carried the main equipment for the plant, and Widerquist says they were fortunate to have a handful of the equipment suppliers travel to the plant to assist with the installation and commissioning.

Plant production manager Caleb Williams says the support from the GAF corporate team was key to getting the plant built and operational, as was Widerquist's experience managing other GAF polyiso plants. The New Columbia plant also features equipment made by the GAF ISO plant in Cedar City, Utah, and some of the operators from there were able to travel to Pennsylvania to help train new operators.

Collaborating with the Community

As Widerquist mentions, the teamwork and partnerships within the GAF team is the secret behind the successful start-up of the plant.

"Every department has critical partnerships, but the closest partnership is with our Corporate Engineering and Operation Technology group," he explains. "The teamwork on the ground with our team in New Columbia has been outstanding."

Collaborating with the community was an important part of the plant becoming operational and ensuring that safety would always be a priority.

"We worked with the local volunteer fire department in New Columbia to help them familiarize themselves with our facility and the chemical we use on-site," says Williams. "We gathered several safety suggestions from the fire department and look forward to a long-term supportive relationship where we plan to help them with training opportunities on our site."

Empowering Employees

Since the start of the project, the GAF team has prioritized safety, which is evident in the plant's culture. Widerquist says the culture emphasizes safety, collaboration, continuous improvement, and community engagement.

"All employees at the plant are empowered to make decisions, develop solutions, and evolve our processes," he says. "Employees are trusted to have ownership over their work and have the personal power to improve results. The plant environment is driven by diverse ideas, employees who are invested and engaged in their work, and a team that inspires one another to be better than yesterday."

The New Columbia plant has established programs that focus on continuous improvement and environmental health and safety. These programs provide employees with the opportunity to help innovate the facility by developing solutions and improvements that make their jobs safer and more efficient.

One of the most memorable team moments for Williams was the day they raised their own custom-built US flag made from GAF TPO membrane. The machine technicians now operating the production line assembled the flag. "This was a great and unique day that makes us proud to work at GAF," Williams says.

NC ISO 4


Since opening the newest plant, GAF has created 50 new jobs for the community, and that number is expected to grow to over 130 employees once hiring is complete. Anyone interested in joining the team at the new plant or at any of the 34 GAF manufacturing operations across the US can visit the careers page to review job openings.

Don't miss another GAF RoofViews post!
LATEST UPDATES
Why Attics Get a Bad Rep Attic's get a bad rep. Hot, unfinished, dark spaces, often hard to access, filled with insulation, ductwork, and old family heirlooms make attics an undesirable space. And scary movies like The Grudge certainly don't make attics any more appealing. What a shame. Perhaps if more people understood the potential that is just waiting to be unveiled, we'd have a very different viewpoint on these underserved spaces.
Your attic needs to breathe. Poor ventilation may lead to excess heat and moisture and potential roof system degradation. The attic ventilation options that are best for your home will vary based on the style of your roof to ensure that each attic space has a balanced system for intake and exhaust. Balanced systems need to draw in fresh air and export hot, moist air.
There's an old saying that it takes a village to support a family. In late October, it took 75 volunteers—including many GAF employees—working together with Habitat for Humanity of Tuscaloosa, Alabama to meet one goal: making a family's dream of homeownership come true. The best part? It took just five days.
The evolving global pandemic and high number of natural disasters over the past year have continued introducing unique challenges to our neighbors, communities, and planet. In the midst of this, we have seen people all over the world stepping up to the plate to care for one another in new and creative ways. As we look back on 2021, we are touched by the impact we see others having and proud of what we've been able to impact ourselves.
A balanced attic ventilation system helps reduce damaging heat and moisture in attic spaces, which may help reduce the load on air conditioning systems and lower the risk of ice dam formation in the winter.
If you've ever noticed the different roof shapes and styles in your neighborhood, you may have wondered about their purpose and structure. For example, hip roofs are among the most common types of roofs, second only to gable roofs.
This blog contains information created by a variety of sources, including internal and third party writers. The opinions and views expressed do not necessarily represent those of GAF. The content is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute financial, accounting, tax or legal advice. GAF does not guarantee the accuracy, reliability, and completeness of the information. In no event shall GAF be held responsible or liable for errors or omissions in the content or for the results, damages or losses caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on the content.

Interested in sharing or republishing our content? We kindly ask you to adhere to our guidelines.