We Are KARNAK

Mission Statement

KARNAK’s mission is to manufacture the highest quality sustainable roofing and building solutions to protect, restore and extend the life of the building envelope while reducing the environmental impact. We distinguish ourselves by providing friendly, personalized customer service and outstanding product satisfaction.

History of
The Name

KARNAK takes its name from the Temple of KARNAK in Luxor, Egypt not from the Johnny Carson magician figure as many have speculated. The Temple, built and rebuilt by successive Pharaohs from 1500 BCE to 400 CE, is the largest ancient religious site, the Vatican of its day. It is believed to be one of the first known uses of bitumen for dampproofing, to protect against flooding from the Nile River. While we will never know if our products last for centuries but we do know that if any products will stand the test of time, ours will.

Message from The President

Twenty four years ago, I left the practice of law to proudly join KARNAK, the company my father and a partner bought in 1933, at the height of the depression for a total of $10,000. Unfortunately, I never got to work with my father, but the life lessons he taught me and that he followed to successfully take a near bankrupt company and build it into the premier coating and mastic company guide me every day. These are the same lessons I am imparting to my son, Jake who recently entered the business.

My dad made the iconic red and yellow can the symbol of quality and consistency. As we transition from a black bitumen-based company to an environmentally-oriented technically-advanced company with four manufacturing facilities throughout the United States, we never lose sight of our overriding principles – three phrases that still best describe our company:

We are good folks.
We make good stuff.
And we have fun doing it.

1933

The first step
A young waterproofing contractor named Martin Jelin wins the contract to waterproof the yet unbuilt Lincoln Tunnel. Facing a huge late penalty, Martin borrowed $5,000 from his father and $5,000 from an investor to purchase the failing Lewis Asphalt Co of 30 Church St. New York, NY.

1937

The Lincoln Tunnel is completed and begins operation.

1947

The Lewis Asphalt Co changes its name to Karnak Corporation, after the Temple of Karnak in Egypt, the first building in history to use bitumen to waterproof its foundation.

1965

Karnak moves from its location in lower Manhattan to Clark, NJ, to make room for the soon-to-be-built World Trade Center.

1982

Always first
Karnak obtains the industry's first UL Class-A rating for an Aluminum Reflective Coating, for product 97.

1985

The Expansion
Karnak expands to Florida, with the acquisition of a
Ft. Lauderdale production.

1987

2nd Generation of
family business
William "Billy" Jelin, President of the NRG roofing insulation company joins Karnak, representing the company's second generation.

1996

Sarah Jelin joins the company, further expanding the company's commitment to family operation through a second generation.

2000

Spreading the business
Karnak purchases its production facility outside of Chicago, to strengthen its national footprint and better cater to the needs of Midwestern customers.

2011

Karnak builds a state-of-the-art production facility in Kingman, AZ, designed specifically for the sustainable coatings line, solidifying the company reach across the country.

2016

Karnak becomes certified by WBENC as a woman-owned business.

2017

Karnak introduces a line of sprayable vapor barriers, completing its "building envelope" offerings.

2020

3rd generation
Jacob Jelin Schwarz joins the business, representing the third generation of the Jelin family still operating the company after 87 years.

1933

The first step
A young waterproofing contractor named Martin Jelin wins the contract to waterproof the yet-unbuilt Lincoln Tunnel. Facing a huge late penalty, Martin borrowed $5,000 from his father and $5,000 from an investor to purchase the failing Lewis Asphalt Co of 30 Church St, New York, NY.

1937

The Lincoln Tunnel is completed and begins operation.

1947

The Lewis Asphalt Co changes its name to Karnak Corporation, after the Temple of Karnak in Egypt, the first building in history to use bitumen to waterproof its foundation.

1965

Karnak moves from its location in lower Manhattan to Clark, NJ, to make room for the soon-to-be-built World Trade Center.

1982

Always first
Karnak obtains the industry's first UL Class-A rating for an Aluminum Reflective coating, for product #97.

1985

The Expansion
Karnak expands to Florida,
with the acquisition of a
Ft Lauderdale production.

1987

2nd Generation of
family business
William "Billy" Jelin, President of the NRG roofing insulation company joins Karnak, representing the company's second generation.

1996

Sarah Jelin joins the company, further expanding the company's commitment to family operation through a second generation.

2000

Spreading the business
Karnak purchases its production facility outside of Chicago, to strengthen its national footprint and better cater to the needs of Midwestern customers.

2011

Karnak builds a state-of-the-art production facility in Kingman, AZ, designed specifically for the sustainable coatings line, solidifying the company reach across the country.

2016

Karnak becomes certified by WBENC as a woman-owned business.

2017

Karnak introduces a line of sprayable vapor barriers, completing its "building envelope" offerings.

2020

3rd generation
Jacob Jelin Schwarz joins the business, representing the third generation of the Jelin family still operating the company after 87 years.

Leadership Team

Sarah Jane Jelin

President

Chris Salazar

Chief Operating Officer, CMO, CSO

David M. Gritz

Chief Financial Officer

John McDermott

Vice President of Sales

Get more in your inbox

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.