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Spray Foam Industry
Founder of Central Coating Suddenly Dies
Thoughts on the Passing of John Nolan
By Mason Knowles

July 20, 2009 - Madera, California - I don’t believe John Nolan ever thought of his legacy to the sprayfoam industry but I think of it all the time. When the pioneers of the industry experimented with sprayfoam to determine how best to use it in the 60s, John was observing their efforts. He saw the potential but also the drawbacks to the new technology.

John Nolan is one of just a handful of persons in the 70s who helped us identify best practices, develop specifications & design details that worked, document successful applications and promote safety and health of workers and customers.

He worked tirelessly to help advance the sprayfoam business from a niche market populated by well meaning visionaries to a strong professional industry with fully vetted guidelines, best practices, and a history of success.

Just as important, he showed us that a sprayfoam contractor could have a highly profitable and efficient business while following all the hundreds of safety and health regulations imposed by OSHA, EPA and other regulatory agencies.

Central Coating Company was first established in 1961 as an industrial sandblasting and painting contractor. In 1970 John first began using SPF for industrial tank insulation and roofing and by 1978 was one of the leaders in the growing SPF roofing market.

With John Nolan’s attention to detail and organizational & management skills, Central Coating Company evolved into a model of how a SPF contractor can be successful while offering top quality applications, excellent long term customer service and relationships. John had strong core beliefs and strong business ethics. His customers came first,

His employees responded to John’s management style. It was not uncommon to find folks who spent most of their adult life working for John. He allowed his employees to find a place in his company that best suited their talent, skill and motivation. Then he would spare no expense providing the best training available in the industry. I recall one Sprayfoam conference where close to 40 employees of Central Coating Company took SPFA Accreditation Courses. When folks in California were having trouble getting business insurance, John was able to develop a program of education and training that allowed SPF contractors in California to maintain their policies.

John believed in long term relationships with his customers and developed a separate department within Central Coating Company dedicated to customer service and maintenance. The pride those folks have in their jobs is incredible. Having been on a dozen job sites with John’s crews and his customers, I experienced the trust his customer had in John’s crews. In an industry where many contractors never see their customer unless a problem occurs, John’s maintenance department maintained trusting relationships with some customers that have lasted well beyond 20 years.

John had a significant influence on the sprayfoam industry through his work on committees and as President of SPFA. For example he drafted a multi-purpose contractor safety and health program (including forms and recommendations) that could be used by a contractor to develop a safety plan for SPF roofing applications.

Another more recent initiative spearheaded by John was the development of a SPF roof energy calculator. This project was a two-phase program that consisted of; (1) Hiring a research Dr Mark Bomberg to document and quantify the energy saving benefits of SPF roofing systems and (2) Use that research as a basis to develop a computer modeling program that could calculate the relative energy performance of roofing systems in various climates, types of construction and design. Now in the Beta stage, this calculator has great potential to recognize the enormous energy saving characteristics of SPF roofing systems.

At the time of his death, John was leading an industry effort to combine SPF roofing with photo voltaic technology (solar panels). The blending of these two technologies has a great potential in saving energy in the future.

In John’s passing, we lost someone who can’t be replaced. But his inspiration will continue to motivate us to make the SPF industry more relevant, responsible & a mainstream part of the construction industry for years to come.


Mason Knowles


Full Obituary reprinted from

John Patrick Nolan, born on April 21, 1938, in Story County Iowa, passed away suddenly on Wednesday, July 8, 2009, at the age of 71. John attended Iowa State University and the University of Iowa, but in the end he was a self made entrepreneur. John founded Central Coating Company, one of the leading sprayed polyurethane foam roofing companies in the United States.

John was respected as a leader and innovator in his industry and was beloved by his employees, business colleagues and friends. He was an avid gardener and generously shared fresh tomatoes and his famous vegetable juice. He delighted his children and grandchildren with his imagination and creative inventions.

John is preceded in death by his parents, Patrick and Marie Hughes Nolan of Story City, Iowa. He is survived by his wife, Carolyn; daughter, Laurel Muir and her husband Douglas; his son, Luke Nolan and his wife Kirsten of Fresno; grandsons, Jackson Muir and Sam Nolan; his sister, Jean Larson and her husband, Dr. Gordon Larson of Spokane; and nephews, Patrick Larson, and Scott Larson and his wife Debbie Decker.

Memorial Service was held at the Nolan residence on Sunday, July 12, 2009. Remembrances may be made to San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust, 11605 Old Friant Road, Fresno, Ca. 93730. JAY CHAPEL 1121 Roberts Avenue Madera, Ca. (559)674-8814

Link to Obituary

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