Nicolet/ Keasbey & Mattison

Keasbey & Mattison logo
  • Founded: 1873

  • Years Operated: 1873 - 1987

  • Headquarters: Ambler, PA

  • Business: Manufacturer of construction supplies, insulation and auto parts

  • Asbestos Trust: Yes

  • Bankruptcy Status: Filed in 1987

    Trust Fund Information

  • Amount in Trust: $2.11 billion

  • Year Created: 2006


The Nicolet Company, formerly known as Keasbey & Mattison, has one of the strangest back stories of any business that deal in asbestos products. Known in construction circles for pipe insulation, the company began as a pharmaceutical firm.

In 1881, when Henry G. Keasbey and business partner Dr. Richard V. Mattison first moved their pharmaceutical company Keasbey & Mattison from Philadelphia to the small town of Ambler, Pennsylvania. Ambler's residents hoped the company would help rebuild the town's economy. For a while, prosperity returned to Ambler as jobs at the Keasbey & Mattison factories and warehouses lured new residents to the area. The civic-minded Mattison even built an opera house and a new library.

Keasbey & Mattison was initially involved in the production of patent medicines. The company changed its focus when Mattison found that the popular laxative milk of magnesia could be combined with asbestos to create an effective material for pipe insulation. By 1886, the company shifted its focus to the manufacturing of construction and industrial supplies using asbestos.

By the early 20th century, Keasbey & Mattison became one of the nation's leading manufacturers of asbestos textiles and products, shortening its name to "K&M" in the process.

In 1934, Keasbey & Mattison was sold to the British company Turner & Newall, which continued to operate the core business until 1962. That is when Turner & Newall was sold to two other firms, CertainTeed Corporation and Nicolet Industries.

Nicolet continued to produce asbestos products and automobile parts at the Ambler facility until it filed for bankruptcy in 1987 after it was named a defendant in more than 50,000 bodily injury cases involving asbestos. The company ultimately became a division of Armstrong World Industries.

Exposed to Asbestos at Keasbey & Mattison?

Gain access to trust funds, grants and other forms of compensation for you or your loved ones.

Get Help Now Compensation for Mesothelioma Victims

Litigation and Specific Lawsuits

The disposition of Keasbey & Mattison was the subject of a landmark legal decision in 1987 when asbestos victim Keith Edwin Gibson successfully sued Armstrong World Industries for damages sustained through exposure to Keasbey & Mattison insulation products. The U.S. District Court of Colorado decided that because Nicolet had purchased K&M’s assets and continued the manufacture of its asbestos product line, Nicolet was Keasbey & Mattison’s “successor-in-interest” and therefore answerable to the thousands of asbestos victims. Since Armstrong World Industries absorbed Nicolet, Armstrong became responsible for all suits filed against Nicolet and K&M.

This important court decision established a precedent which allowed mesothelioma victims to pursue compensation from a greater number of companies. The court decision also established under Colorado law that companies are responsible for both the assets and liabilities of the businesses they purchase.

The Armstrong World Industries Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust was established in 2006 to compensate victims of Nicolet and K&M asbestos products, and the trust received initial funding of $2.11 billion. As of 2008, $149 million in claim payments had been made from this trust.

Industry & Occupations

K&M products were used in just about every aspect of the  construction industry, from roofing to pipe fittings. Asbestos-containing K&M products may still be found in  homes prior to 1990, presenting a potential hazard to workers involved in the  maintenance, repair, remodeling or demolition of older structures.

This includes:

Nicolet also manufactured automotive parts. Automobile  factory workers and auto mechanics and have the highest risk of exposure from asbestos  containing automobile parts.

In vehicles, asbestos was most often used in:

  • Gaskets
  • Lining of the hood
  • Automatic transmission parts
  • Brake pads

The only way to know if the parts in a car contain asbestos  is to reference the manufacturer’s Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). These  sheets will disclose any hazardous materials in the parts and explain how to  safely handle them.

EPA National  Priorities List (Superfund) Site

Decades of asbestos waste dumping by K&M, Turner & Newall and Nicolet have resulted in several acres of land designated as an EPA Superfund site in Ambler, Pennsylvania. The area, called the BoRit Asbestos site, was added to the EPAs National Priorities List (NPL) in 2009. The site contains asbestos waste made up of shingles, millboard, piping and tiles.

One of the waste piles was actually used as a playground and public park for a number of years. It was closed in the mid-1980s because of asbestos contamination. Some of the piles of waste were as much as 30 feet tall, and at least 15 feet deep below ground level.

Over a decade before the 2009 cleanup, the EPA began cleanup proceedings in Ambler in 1985. The EPA initiated a lawsuit against Nicolet (United States of America v. Nicolet, Inc. and Turner Newall, PLC) to recover future costs and costs already expended in the cleanup in Ambler.


Some of K&M’s most popular products included:

  • K&M Century Asbestos Shingles
  • K&M Kolor-Mate Asbestos-Cement Structural Sheets
  • K&M Hy-Temp Pipe Insulation
  • K&M Featherweight and Hi-Temp 85 percent Magnesia Pipe and Block Insulation
  • K&M Bestfelt Pipe Insulation
  • K&M Hi-Temp Block and Pipe Insulation
  • K&M Fine Corrugated and Special Fine Air Cell Pipe Insulation
  • Century Asbestos Corrugated

Nicolet/Keasby & Mattison Today

Nicolet and Keasby & Mattison were absorbed by Armstrong World Industries. All asbestos bodily injury claims are now being paid by the Armstrong World Industries Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust.

Additional Resources

  1. Siegel, L. (2007). The BoRit asbestos piles, Ambler, Pennsylvania. Retrieved from
  2. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (2009). Technical assistance services for communities: In action at the BoRit Asbestos Superfund site. Retrieved from

Share Our Page

View our resources for patients and families

Get Help Today
Click for Free Patient Resources