Interesting Historical Facts
In 1883, Captain John B. Ford and John Pitcairn established the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company (PPG). They set up shop in Creighton, Pennsylvania, along the Allegheny River about 20 miles north of Pittsburgh. PPG became the first commercially successful producer in the United States of high-quality, thick flat glass using the plate process. The company was also the world's first plate glass plant to fuel melting furnaces with locally-produced natural gas. This innovation quickly stimulated widespread use of clean-burning gas as an industrial fuel.
The company develops a process for producing thinner glass with the plate process, thereby broadening uses for the high-quality glass. By the end of the 19th century, its plate glass production capacity reaches more than 20 million square feet annually, far exceeding that of any U.S. competitor.
Looking ahead, PPG acquires the Patton Paint Company in Milwaukee, a good fit for the company because paint and glass products typically reach the customers through the same distribution channels. They also acquire the Columbia Chemical Company in Barberton, Ohio, to ensure a supply of soda ash necessary to manufacture glass. PPG becomes one of the first U.S. firms to expand operations in Europe, acquiring a glass plant in Belgium. PPG opens its first research and development facility; today, PPG operates three facilities in Pittsburgh and many more worldwide.
The Pitcairn Building was built in 1902, at Philadelphia as one of seven regional distribution centers. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
The automotive industry starts using more glass as the open touring car gives way to the sedan. PPG revolutionizes plate glassmaking with straight line conveyor-based ribbon method – a vast improvement over the batch method. PPG begins supplying aerospace transparencies, providing roll-up windows for the Ford Trimotor. PPG acquires Ditzler Color Company and begins producing more than 500 "harmonious hues" for 40 automakers.
PPG introduces Solex heat-absorbing glass and Herculite tempered glass, several times stronger and more shatter-resistant than ordinary plate glass.
The year before Pearl Harbor is attacked, PPG develops laminated aircraft glass. During World War II, the company converts much of its production into materials for military use and begins to develop synthetic resins that lead to plastics, high-performance paints and industrial coatings. The company has a vision for its future as it patents CR‑39 monomer and begins a journey into creating a successful line of optical products (which will later include transitions lenses).
Post-World War prosperity leads to increased car production and construction. The company introduces lead-free house paints and begins to manufacture fiber glass for circuit boards, window screening, and plastics reinforcement.
PPG's businesses are diverse. A number of foreign production operations and strategic planning moves the company toward a global focus. At the same time, the historic plate process for making flat glass is becoming obsolete with the adoption of the much more efficient float process. Reflecting its diversification, Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company changes its name to PPG Industries. As a bonus, the company reaches $1 billion in sales ($7.4 billion today)
The oil embargo and rising costs of gas and electricity revive interests in solar energy. PPG is the first major corporation to develop a flat-plate solar collector. PPG expands its groovy color palette by introducing the DesignaColor System for custom-tinting consumer paints.
PPG introduces Teslin substrate, a synthetic printing material that resists water, abrasion, extreme temperatures, and UV damage. Its durability makes it ideal for passports, photo IDs, maps, and menus. In 1987, PPG's chlor-alkali business makes a splash when it introduces the Sustain Pool Care System, delivering chlorine more evenly and accurately for easier pool care. In 1989, PPG begins a flurry of acquisitions that expand the company's offering of automotive, industrial, aerospace, and packaging coatings around the world.
PPG develops photochromic lenses that automatically darken in sunlight and block harmful UV rays. Today, transitions lenses are the eyecare industry's most recommended photochromic lenses. Becoming ever-more global, PPG opens a new development laboratory in Japan for automotive coatings. In 1998, PPG proves its "can-do" attitude by developing more efficient solvent-based coatings for easy-opening lids on beverage cans.
PPG silicas are used to strengthen the performance of athletic footwear, while flexible coatings add durability and color. As the need for alternative energy sources grows, PPG fiber glass plays a role in the manufacture of lighter and stronger wind turbines. PPG broadens its transparent armor product portfolio with the acquisition of Sierracin Corp., adding high-performance lightweight transparent armor solutions that can withstand severe ballistic and blast threats. In 2008 PPG makes the largest acquisition in its history, of the SigmaKalon Group, a worldwide coatings producer. This accelerates the company's transformation to focus on coatings and specialty products.
PPG Industries announced an agreement to acquire Glidden from AkzoNobel for $1.05 billion on December 14, 2012. The transaction is expected to close early in the second quarter 2013. Following the deal, PPG will be the second largest paint manufacturer in North American, behind Sherwin-Williams.