Sixty Years of Innovating Foam for Consumers

NCFI Polyurethanes was established in 1964 by a research chemist, Dr. Harris W. “Ace” Bradley, who had worked on the Manhattan Project in World War II and in R&D with DuPont developing the newly-discovered family of plastics called urethanes, and the Barnhardt Family, a leading manufacturer of fiber cushioning materials.

From 1964 through 1995 NCFI was operated as a subsidiary company, but in 1995 we became a division of Barnhart. In 1996 the family of Thomas M. Barnhardt, III purchased Barnhardt and its division NCFI from the stockholders and the ESOP to bring the company again back to a family business. Therefore, NCFI continues to be a major part of a fourth-generation family business started back in 1900.

The company got its start when Essex Wire, a manufacturer of flexible urethane foam, decided to close its Mount Airy, NC plant. A group led by Dr. Bradley and Jacob O. Barnhardt, Jr. a graduate engineer from Georgia Tech quickly moved on the opportunity purchasing Essex’s equipment, renting their space, and re-employing their employees. They inherited Essex’s customers without interruption of their foam supply.

Formal operations for North Carolina Foam Industries began in September 1964 in a rented 25,000 sq. ft. building with only 30 associates.

Dr. Bradley and Barnhardt had seized the opportunity to get in on a virgin industry: manufacturing flexible urethane foam known as synthetic foam rubber. Synthetic foam rubber was itself a newcomer on the American scene, having just been released from the very research lab where Dr. Bradley worked in the 1950’s. NCFI was a raw material supplier—producing synthetic foam in the form of large blocks or “buns” and shipping them to its customers, who then cut or “fabricated” the buns into cushioning units for the furniture and bedding industries.

The company quickly earned a reputation for consistent product quality and excellent service. Among its chemical suppliers, NCFI earned respect for its technical competence and fiscal responsibility; a hallmark of the parent company, Barnhardt Manufacturing.

In 1966, the company had outgrown their rented space and purchased a new 46,000 sq. ft. facility on the 12-acre lot in the Mount Airy Industrial Park. The move enabled the company to further expand its manufacturing capabilities. As growth accelerated, NCFI increased it physical plant, expanded the product line, added a fabricating department, and employed additional personnel. That expansion would accelerate as NCFI added new plants in Hickory, and High Point, NC, Ocala, FL, Dalton, GA, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Houston, TX. Company headquarters and the main manufacturing plant remains in Mount Airy, NC.

The years since 1964 have seen continuous and healthy growth for NCFI. Some of the major events that helped shape growth are detailed below:

Company History Timeline


North Carolina Foam Industries established in former Essex Wire rented quarters with approximately 25,000 square feet.

Dr. H.W. Bradley and Jacob O. “Jake” Barnhardt served as research chemists developing and testing foam products.

Company breakthrough achievement: perfecting the “One-Shot” production method, which today has become the United States FPF manufacturing industry standard. *See Dr. Harris W. Bradley bio.

Dr. Bradley serves as first company president.


The company moves to its own 46,000 sq. ft. building in Industrial Park on a 12.8-acre lot.

Begins making rigid foam blocks in 4×8 sheets and selling for insulation.


March: chemical systems for foamed-in-place rigid foam insulation added to the company’s production capabilities.
First insulation foam formulated.

First insulation job completed—a poultry house in North Wilkesboro, NC.

Company begins applying foam to exterior roofs, uses light tar as coating DRAFT NCFI History and Timeline

Designates company’s first insulation foam product “367” Uses foam to insulate cold storage facilities in NC and SC.


17,000 sq. ft. are added to the warehouse area.

Success of insulating coolers spurs company to begin insulation of walls of buildings housing cold storage.


55,000 sq. ft. added to house new equipment and provide space for the fabrication of flexible foams.

Company buys an additional 11.6-acre adjoining lot.


3 lb. roofing foam developed.

Jake Barnhardt serves as second company president.


The Company adds another 27,000 sq. ft. for warehouse, equipment, and fabrication space.

3 lb. roofing foam officially marketed.

Dr. Dan Dixon becomes company’s chief research chemist


Company begins supplying foam to airline seat manufacturers for seating.


Another 20,000 sq. ft. are added for equipment and rigid foam systems.


Company introduces a carpet padding made from prime urethane foam.


Another 10,000 sq. ft. are added for carpet padding production bringing the total plan area to 175,000 square feet. Company also purchases an additional 7.5-acre adjoining lot for a total of 31.9 acres.

Company begins work with Lockheed Martin in providing foam for the External Tank Program of the US Space Shuttle.

Company is the first to develop poured and sprayed-in-place foam for Geotechnical uses.


25,000 sq. ft. are added for additional foam production plus new office space and chemical system service space, bringing the total plant area (Mount Airy) to over 200,000 sq. ft.

Dr. Bradley retires.
Jake Barnhardt named second company president.


Graded adjoining back lot for additional trailer parking and 19,000 sq. ft. fabrication building built.


Company’s Custom Formulated Products division begins offering foam for taxidermy and targets.

Company opens a manufacturing facility in Ocala, FL.


Another 19,000 sq. ft. added to the fabrication building.


Company acquires the assets of Dalton Foam, Inc. and makes it the Dalton Foam Division of North Carolina Foam Industries. These assets include six acres of land twelve miles south of Dalton, Georgia, a 50,000 sq. ft. facility, and machinery to process rebond carpet cushion. This purchase gives NCFI a new product, rebond urethane carpet cushion, to complement our existing prime urethane carpet cushion, as well as the ability to recycle our own scrap.

Company develops polyurethane foam for geotechnical uses.


24,000 sq. ft. added to Dalton Foam Division along with expanded production machinery to increase production of carpet cushion.


First shipment of foam to customers in Russia. Company adds that country to list in international customers: Canada, South America, and Mexico.


9,000 sq. ft. added to Dalton Foam Division. Swanson Snow named third company president.


Secondary containment pits added to chemical storage tanks in addition to a building to cover some of the chemical storage tanks.


Started work on better CO2 processing for flexible foam pouring.


10,500 sq. ft. added to the flexible foam fabrication building.


8,400 sq. ft. technical service building was built to further growth in the chemical systems portion of North Carolina Foam Industries’ business.


Company becomes the first North American urethane foam supplier to commercially offer hydrocarbon and HFC-formulated rigid spray systems as alternatives to HCFC-141b.

Decision made to brand and market SPF insulation formulations the company had been making and selling for years.

InsulStar becomes the company’s first branded closed-cell residential spray foam insulation introduced.


10,200 sq. ft. Specialty Products manufacturing site in Mt. Airy, NC for Pentane Processing.


Company wins the EPA’s Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award (now the Montreal Protocol Award) recognizing outstanding contributions to the protection of the Earth’s ozone layer. “The recipients of the awards have demonstrated originality and public purpose, persuasive moral and organizational leadership, and elimination of emissions of ozone-depleting substances. EPA’s Awards are particularly prestigious because of the international breadth and scope of impressive accomplishments by the award recipients.”

TerraThane brand geotechnical foam system introduced. *Though North Carolina Foam Industries pioneered the use of geotechnical foam in the 1980s, they introduced their own brand in this year.

EnduraTech SPF Roofing Systems introduced. Systems include: EnduraRock, EnduraMetal, EnduraPlus, EnduraStore.


Company opens new 80,000 sq. ft. manufacturing site for Specialty Products in Clearfield, Utah.

SEALITE brand open-cell residential SPF insulation introduced.

Name change: North Carolina Foam Industries (Dalton Foam and Barnhardt Cushion divisions) changes the company name to NCFI Polyurethanes to better reflect “its growing nationwide popularity and leadership in environmentally sound polyurethane technology.”


Company becomes one of the first in the nation to experiment with plant- based alternatives to petroleum (soy, corn, and sugar beets).


Steve Riddle named fourth company president.


ThermalStop brand closed-cell foam (SPF insulation) seamless insulation system used in general construction applications such as storage tanks, metal buildings, sewage digesters, and similar structures introduced.

AgriThane brand SPF insulation for agricultural uses: poultry barns, liquid storage tanks and silos, potato, vegetable, grain storage, livestock housing, and cold storage and freezers introduced.

InsulBloc brand highly versatile, commercial closed-cell, spray-in-place foam insulation for masonry walls, concrete block, concrete, brick, steel, wood, laminates, and exterior sheathing boards introduced.


U.S. Space Shuttle Program honors NCFI Polyurethanes with Supplier Quality Excellence Award for work on the External Tank Program with Lockheed Martin.

Consumer Products Division introduces Bio-Lux™ Max foams containing as much as 33% overall renewable content. Highest percentage in the market.


Company begins working on remediation and environmental containment at the decommissioned Hanford Site, formerly Hanford Nuclear Reservation, along the Columbia River in the State of Washington. Hanford is the most contaminated nuclear site in the US and the focus of the nation’s largest environmental cleanup.


Company now does business on every continent, except Antarctica. Is an award-winning leader in the SPF insulation industry. Has pioneered every type of SPF foam used in the US.

Is one of the last SPF systems houses: manufactures SPF, markets SPF, trains applicators, sells equipment, and provides technical service. One of the few US owned companies involved in spray foam insulation.

Has more than 14 distribution warehouses around the US. Has more than one million sq. ft. of manufacturing space.

Operates one of the nation’s safest private transportation fleets. NCFI drivers logged more than 1.5 million accident-free miles from 2010-2013.
Is pioneering the use of a safer next generation blowing agent.


President Steve Riddle retires.

Chip Holton, West Point grad, US Army infantry officer, GE manager, VP US Ops Jacob Holm Industries, named fifth company president.


Introduction of InsulStar 1.7 closed-cell insulation.

White House honors NCFI as example of US businesses working to reduce HFCs in manufacturing. Chip Holton attends exclusive roundtable meeting with US Secretary of Energy and Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


Company co-founder, Jake Barnhardt, passes away

Company’s open-cell Sealite product replaced with 1.5 lb. open-cell InsulStar Light. Achieves major yield boost.


Consumer Products Division introduces first mattress that features copper in every component

Specialty Products Division renamed Construction Foam Division. Mitch Clifton named EVP

Creates Geotechnical Polyurethanes Division. Joshua Burcaw named EVP

Geotech Division introduces Strata-Fill lightweight fill polyurethane product

Company begins construction of a new 85,000 sf plant in Houston, Texas to produce Construction and Geotechnical polyurethane materials. Plant slated to open mid-2020.

Three geotechnical polyurethane materials, TerraThane 24-003, 24-010, and 24-042, carry the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard 61 certification for safe use in and around drinking water and other water sources.

Consumer Products Division unveiled Bedinabox, a five-design bed-in-the-box collection for mattress retailers and direct-to-consumer.


The year of the Global Pandemic.

NCFI was designated an essential manufacturing business, so we experienced no disruption in manufacturing of our foam products due to COVID-19. We followed all CDC and state guidelines and took all reasonable precautions to protect our associates and our facilities during the yearlong pandemic. While this was happening, we quietly introduced our lines of hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) foam products in the Construction Foam Division. These low Global Warming Potential (GWP) foams provide an increase in the maximum thickness of each layer, or “lift,” of foam that can be applied, and are highly reactive in the atmosphere, giving them a very short life – which is why they have such a small impact as a greenhouse gas.
HFO’s are:


They do not degrade the ozone layer

They are non-flammable

They are not considered a volatile organic compound (VOC) by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


NCFI opens what company president, Chip Holton, says is the “most advanced manufacturing facility in the industry” in Houston, Tx.

According to Holton, NCFI’s Construction Foam Division, which produces SPF roofing and coatings under the Enduratech brand, residential SPF insulation under the InsulStar, InsulStar 1.7, and InsulStar Light brands, and commercial SPF insulation under the InsulStar and InsulBloc brands has experienced consistent growth over the past five years, while their geotechnical division’s Terrathane brand is also experiencing steady growth. “Our plan for sustainable growth went into effect about five years ago. As an independent company we knew we’d have to be nimble enough to shift our product lines and switch capacity from one plant to another as we grew. With the new Texas footprint, we’re closer to raw materials, and we’re in the middle of one of the strongest building markets in the US—Texas and the Southwest. We have direct access to almost all of the US population.”


The company completes the divestment of its Consumer Products division-flexible slabstock foam.