Originally established in the United States as an American branch of the German chemical conglomerate I.G. Dyes, American I.G. changed its name to General Aniline and Film (GAF) Corporation in 1939. The name change resulted from its acquisition of General Aniline Works and a merger with Agfa-Ansco Corporation, which produced photography supplies such as film.
Because of German interests in the American company, the U.S. government seized it in 1942 after the U.S. entered World War II. GAF was managed by federal government-appointed directors until 1965. Unfortunately for the company, the directors showed little capitalist motivation, and GAF’s market position stagnated when compared to that of competitors such as DuPont, Xerox and Kodak.
After going public in 1965, GAF acquired roofing supplies manufacturer Ruberoid Corporation, which later became known as the subsidiary division GAF Materials Corporation. The company officially changed its name to GAF Corporation in 1968. Mismanagement plagued GAF Corporation through the ensuing decades. However, in the mid-1980s, the company cashed in on a housing boom that demanded the construction products in which GAF specialized. GAF Corporation later became known as G-I Holdings and spun off much of its roofing product line into its subsidiary, Building Materials Corporation.
In what was an ill-fated acquisition, GAF’s purchase of Ruberoid brought with it a product line that contained considerable quantities of asbestos. The asbestos-containing products ranged from roofing shingles and siding to insulation and numerous other construction-related products. Along with the purchase came ownership of an asbestos mine in Virginia. Once the sale was complete, GAF Corporation became the de facto leader in asbestos supplies in the state. The mine was shut down in 1975, less than a decade after GAF acquired it.
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Fast Fact: GAF was the 27th company in the United States to file for protection under Chapter 11 bankruptcy from liabilities concerning asbestos-related bodily injury claims. Then-GAF President and Chief Operating Officer Bill Collins said that company was still “committed to growth and further industry leadership.”
Matt Mauney is an award-winning journalist with nearly a decade of professional writing experience. He joined Asbestos.com in 2016, and he spends much of his time reading, analyzing and reporting on mesothelioma research articles to ensure people in the mesothelioma community know the latest medical advancements. Prior to joining Asbestos.com, Matt was a reporter at the Orlando Sentinel. Matt also edits some of the pages on the website. He also holds a certificate in health writing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read More