Armstrong Cork is one of the nation’s oldest houseware manufacturers. The company was originally founded in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1860 by Thomas Armstrong, and the business quickly became well-known for its hand-carved corks. By the 1890’s Armstrong Cork was the world’s largest cork company. In 1891 the company incorporated as Armstrong, Brother and Company, Inc. and in 1893 Armstrong, Brother and Company purchased Lancaster Cork Works. In 1929 the company moved its headquarters to Lancaster, PA.  

During the 1890s Armstrong expanded into foreign markets, opening sales offices in Montreal and Toronto, and in 1895 changed its corporate name to Armstrong Cork Company.  The company expanded its product lines into floor covering in the early 20th century as well as cork insulating board, other insulating materials, packaging closures, and gaskets. During the 1950s cork was largely replaced by chemicals and synthetics as the basis of the company’s products.  In 1966 and 1967 Armstrong entered the carpet business and in 1968 Armstrong acquired furniture manufacturer Thomasville Furniture. In 1969 Armstrong divested itself of Armstrong Contracting and Supply Corporation, its insulation- contracting business, which changed its name to ACandS, Inc.

The company continued to grow throughout the 1970s and 1980s developing new types of resilient flooring, such as Solarian no-wax flooring.  In 1980, the corporate name was changed to Armstrong World Industries, Inc to reflect its growing international operations and the fact that it was no longer based on the cork business. Armstrong World Industries is headquartered in Lancaster, PA with manufacturing facilities in four continents and employs roughly eleven thousand people world-wide.

When in operation, Armstrong World Industries, Inc. Fulton plant was located on New York State Route 481 in the town of Fulton, New York. In 1999, after Armstrong ceased the production of floor backing, ownership of the plant was transferred to Interface Solutions Incorporated. Today, Interface continues to operate its Fulton facility, employing roughly 350 residents of the Fulton/Oswego community. Prior to ceasing to operate, Armstrong Fulton manufactured floor backing and gasket materials. It is estimated that, every day, the Armstrong Fulton plant used between 150 to 200 tons of raw asbestos in its manufacturing processes. Exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases.

On a daily basis, pallets of asbestos bales were delivered to the Fulton plant by truck and rail. During the delivery process, these bales tore and ripped open, causing asbestos fibers to spill inside the plant. Employees at Armstrong, swept up raw asbestos from the plant’s floor with a power sweeper, causing clouds of fibers and dust to become airborne, which the employees subsequently inhaled.

Floor backing is a moisture-resistant, felt-like lining that is laid beneath floor boards and vinyl asbestos floor tile or linoleum tile. Workers at Armstrong manufactured floor backing by feeding raw asbestos through a series of pulpers, conveyers and batch tanks. In the process of pulping raw asbestos to create a slurry, asbestos dust and fibers became airborne and coated the plant’s equipment and machinery. The slurry was then fed through paper machines and formed into a sheet of paper with varying thicknesses. The asbestos felt paper was then sent to cure in large dryers. After the paper dried, it was sized into different diameter rolls. The rolls were transferred to storage and shipped by rail or truck. In the process of manufacturing the floor backing, large amounts of asbestos dust and fibers were emitted into the plant that the workers inhaled.

Prior to the late 1970s, asbestos-containing materials were utilized in Armstrong’s day-to-day plant operations. Asbestos-containing pipe covering lined steam and return lines. Asbestos cement and block insulation was applied to boilers. Hoods for dryers, used to cure floor backing, were lined with asbestos boards, which required frequent replacement. Due to normal wear and tear, these materials were removed and reapplied and, in the process, emitted dangerous levels of asbestos dust and fibers that contractors, maintenance personnel and workers inhaled.

The attorneys at Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford, LLC have gathered a vast amount of information concerning the type and variety of asbestos-containing products at Armstrong’s Fulton facility. Our clients understand the importance of securing legal representation as soon as possible after a diagnosis of mesothelioma or lung cancer. If you or a loved one were once employed at Armstrong Fulton, and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, we urge you to contact us regarding your legal rights.