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Last Modified January 19, 2022
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Quick Facts About The E.J. Bartells Company
  • Founded:
  • Years Operated:
    1923 - circa 2004
  • Headquarters:
    Renton, Washington
  • Business:
    Manufacturer of refractory and industrial products
  • Asbestos Trust:
  • Bankruptcy Status:
    Filed in 2000 and reorganized in 2001.


Edwin J. Bartells founded The E.J. Bartells Company in 1923. His goal was to provide “the most complete line of insulation/refractory products and services available on the market.” Until the late 1970s, the company manufactured products using asbestos, a toxic mineral that the refractory business relied on because it was resistant to fire and heat.

Throughout its history, the company conducted business with notable names including Boeing, Xerox, Intel, Apollo Sheet Metal, J.H. Kelly and others. Many of these companies were also known to manufacture asbestos-containing products.

The company was acquired and merged with Distribution International in 2015. In October 2021, Distribution International was acquired by TopBuild.

The E.J. Bartells Company stopped doing business in the early 2000s and officially became an inactive corporation in 2004. A private company revamped the company as E.J. Bartells in 2001.

E.J. Bartells sold refractory and mechanical insulation, HVAC and air handling units and other products. However, today they are produced in accordance with current asbestos regulations.

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Litigation & Specific Lawsuits

The original E.J. Bartells Corporation faced many asbestos-related lawsuits because of its use of asbestos. These lawsuits came from former employees and those who used the company’s products.

One prominent case was brought by the wife of a former machinist and electrician. She filed a wrongful death lawsuit against multiple companies that she said exposed her husband to asbestos. One of these companies was The E.J. Bartells Company. A jury found the company partially liable for the man’s death (from pleural mesothelioma) and awarded the family a total of $3 million in punitive damages, $1.5 million in noneconomic damages and $307,000 in compensatory damages.

Another lawsuit was filed by the family of a former employee who died from asbestosis. They sought death benefits, disability benefits and compensation for funeral expenses. The family was awarded $750 monthly payments to be paid over the course of 20 years in a settlement agreement with some of the third-party defendants.

Inundated with thousands of asbestos claims, The E.J. Bartells Company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2000. As part of its reorganization efforts, the original company established an asbestos trust fund to address any ongoing and future asbestos claims. The reorganized E.J. Bartells has not been involved with any asbestos lawsuits.

Industries & Occupations

Employees from many occupations and industries used asbestos products from The E.J. Bartells Company. Insulators, plumbers, pipe workers, electricians and construction workers all utilized products the company manufactured. These workers then faced elevated risks for respiratory diseases such as asbestosis and cancers like lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Because of the risk of occupational illness, former employees of The E.J. Bartells Corporation should consider regular screenings for potential asbestos-related diseases. Employees of the currently operating E.J. Bartells (or workers from other industries who use their products) do not face the same exposure risks.


The E.J. Bartells Company made a number of products that contained asbestos. These products included adhesives, tapes, sealants, insulation, cement, duct connectors, pipe coverings and insulation pads and tapes.

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