Congoleum Corporation (Congoleum-Nairn)

Congoleum Corporation has its origins in mid-nineteenth century Scotland, where Michael Nairn and his family manufactured canvas floor coverings made from sailcloth, and around 1860 developed linoleum, a more durable and cleanable floor covering. The family emigrated to America in the 1880s and set up business in Kearny, New Jersey. The linoleum business prospered through the early 1900s.

In the early 1920s the Nairn company was acquired by the Congoleum Company, which had a main plant in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania and manufactured a simulated wood-grain product used in bordering linoleum and area rugs. The product was called Congoleum because the asphalt used in its manufacture came from the Belgian Congo. The new company was called Congoleum-Nairn and it grew and prospered, even through the Great Depression, making a wide variety of floor covering products.

In the1950s the company acquired several other companies in order to shift its production to the new vinyl tiles which were replacing linoleum in popularity. The company was not profitable between 1957 and 1960 but reorganized and introduced new floor covering products which re-established its position as a major player in both commercial and residential flooring.

From the 1950s through the 1980s the company manufactured numerous products which contained asbestos, eventually producing over 200,000 asbestos lawsuits. This factor worsened the problem of the great amount of corporate debt the company had assumed in its efforts to expand and adapt to the changing markets of the latter twentieth century.

In 2003 the company, now known as the Congoleum Corporation due to a series of reorganizations, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New Jersey. After more than a dozen debt-repayment plans, the court permitted reorganization and in May of 2010 the company was permitted to come out of bankruptcy. The Congoleum Asbestos P.I. Trust was established to address all asbestos-related personal injury claims.


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