IndustryWeek magazine has selected National Gypsum's wallboard production plant in Wilmington, N.C., as one of the "10 Best Plants in North America."

The company's Wilmington plant was one of nearly 200 facilities nominated for the award. The magazine began its Best Plants Award Program 17 years ago as a salute to outstanding manufacturing facilities demonstrating world-class capabilities and a management mindset of continuous improvement.

The plant received the award at ceremonies scheduled at the plant in October. Customers, as well as state and local officials, joined employees for the noon celebration.

"This award validates our company's focus on manufacturing excellence," said CEO Thomas C. Nelson. "The Wilmington plant has been in production for nearly 30 years, yet, as this award indicates, it is among the best in the nation. We are very proud of our associates at Wilmington who have developed an esprit de corps, which has resulted in an insatiable appetite for excellence. They have turned this plant around and the recognition is a fitting reward for their hard work."

The plant produces gypsum wallboard from rock mined at the company's Halifax, Nova Scotia, quarry. The rock is shipped by ocean carrier to the plant's dock. It is crushed and the resulting stucco is combined with other additives and water, and placed on a continuous sheet of paper. A second sheet of paper placed on top sandwiches the stucco to form the wallboard.

To compete for the award, the plant completed a comprehensive entry covering management practices, quality, employment practices, safety, customer service, innovation, logistics, technology investment, manufacturing flexibility, maintenance, inventory management, environmental stewardship, and competitiveness.

"We are now producing wallboard at about 215 feet per minute," said Plant Manager Steve LePage. "That is more than 30 feet faster than in 2003."