Leaning in at Owens Corning
This case study was original published on FreightWaves.
Owens Corning (NYSE: OC), the global manufacturer of building materials and fiberglass composites, has embraced cultural and digital transformation as the company seeks to do business in a more inclusive and forward-thinking way.
Owens Corning’s workers, products and facilities span 33 countries, from Canada to Brazil, Singapore and South Korea to Russia. The company employs 19,000 people, manufactures its products at more than 100 locations, and generated sales of $7.2 billion in 2019. A member of the Fortune 500 for the past 66 years, Owens Corning is a storied company in the building materials industry, responsible for numerous innovations.
Although Owens Corning lives in a durable industrial space that addresses fundamental human needs for shelter, today the company is more focused than ever on leaning into the future and seizing new opportunities. Through a renewed emphasis on inclusion and diversity, aggressive 2030 sustainability goals, and a growing digitization of its supply chain, Owens Corning is enhancing its corporate values and honing how it executes.
Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity Leah Maguire said that Owens Corning’s current efforts around inclusion and diversity began a decade ago with the organic formation of community outreach “affinity groups.” Affinity groups brought together communities of women, LGBTQ and Black employees in the Owens Corning family to share experiences, build programs and sponsor unconscious-bias training.
When the deaths of unarmed Black citizens at the hands of police became a national crisis and caught the business community’s attention, many CEOs signed pledges to make inclusion and diversity a priority, and Brian Chambers, chairman and CEO of Owens Corning, was one of them.
“The first thing we did was hold listening sessions,” Maguire said. Senior leadership partnered with human resources and the Owens Corning affinity groups to create spaces where employees could talk about their experiences.
“Employees came in and trusted us with sharing their lived experiences and brought a lot of candor with respect to what people carry with them into work every day — whether it’s something in their personal lives or what they’re seeing on a community or social level,” Maguire said. “We had employees who shared that they feel somewhat guarded and couldn’t fully bring their authentic selves to work, and we said, ‘We have to do more.’”
Several months later, Maguire’s position was created. She built an inclusion and diversity council of 20 senior leaders from around the company with the purpose of building a culture of appreciation where employees are heard and appreciated for the value that each distinct voice brings to the team. The council is responsible for delivering content, training and experiences to employees to help them connect, and supporting managers in building more inclusive leadership muscles.
“We have to have high-performing teams, and that means teams that are diverse, capable and fully engaged,” Maguire said.
Owens Corning shares an emerging view of corporate responsibility that seeks to look after not just what’s happening inside the four walls of the business, but in the wider world. Owens Corning’s 2030 sustainability goals include doubling the positive impact of its products and halving the negative impact of its operations.
Owens Corning currently recycles 62% of the physical waste generated by its operations and has further reduced its remaining landfill waste by 18% compared to 2010 levels. The company is focused on reducing the greenhouse gas emission impact of the blowing agents in its foam insulation products and increasing the number of products “made with 100% wind-powered electricity and reduced embodied carbon.”
After partnering with Convoy in 2017 to source outbound truckload capacity from its Santa Clara, California-based insulation plant, Owens Corning has continued to embrace digital innovation in its supply chain.
“The trucking industry is very fluid and we utilize in the neighborhood of 100 dry van carriers to deliver products for our insulation and composites businesses,” said Pat Cassity, supply chain director at Owens Corning. “We had a specific need to gain additional capacity for our Santa Clara plant a few years ago, and Convoy was on our radar screen in terms of being able to provide service.”
Cassity stressed that because its carriers deliver directly to Owens Corning customers, Owens Corning considers them an integral part of its customer experience.
“We believe one of the ways we differentiate ourselves is through our service,” Cassity said.
“Having carriers we can depend on to deliver product undamaged, on time, and as promised, and being able to communicate that information to us and to our customers is of paramount importance.”
Convoy serviced outbound Santa Clara freight and picked up more insulation business, delivering to Owens Corning customers, including insulation distributors. Cassity explained that delivery windows to distributors are often very tight, because the customer will have an installation crew waiting to unload the truck, load their own truck and take it to the job site for installation. In that sense, Owens Corning’s logistics operation for its insulation products is far more “just in time” than many people realize.
“They’ve been able to deliver superior service,” Cassity said. “Convoy did well in that business segment, which gave us the confidence to have them deliver our composites products to OEMs.”
Owens Corning started working with Convoy on outbound freight from one insulation manufacturing plant to its distributors but now has woven the digital freight network into the operations of its composites business. Owens Corning is a leading manufacturer of fiberglass composites like those used in cars, RVs, ceiling tiles and wind blades: Its composites business had 2019 revenues of $2 billion.
Cassity highlighted two further areas where Convoy has stood out. First, Convoy Go’s drop trailer pool has allowed Owens Corning to use labor more efficiently and smooth its facility operations.
“As we talked to Convoy a year and half ago about growing in our network, we told them up front that one of the barriers was around being able to provide us trailers,” Cassity said. “They put together a power-only program where they bring in extra trailers. Drivers do not have to wait to be loaded, as we can pre-load the extra trailers in advance. That program was unique to Convoy as a broker.”
The second point of differentiation, Cassity said, was Convoy’s ability to integrate with Owens Corning’s visibility solution provider of choice so that Owens Corning and its customers could track the location of all shipments.
“Convoy’s ability to adapt to Owens Corning’s needs, and the needs of our customers, has led to them now supporting several origins for our Insulation and Composites businesses,” Cassity said.