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PPG Industries’ Transformation to a Global Coatings Leader Mirrors Pittsburgh’s Own Economic Renaissance

PPG Industries is a global enterprise with operations in every part of the world – including every G-20 country – producing thousands of products and employing thousands of people. Like Pittsburgh, PPG has continually reinvented itself to meet changing economic dynamics by expanding its geography and focusing on innovation.

History of Growth and Innovation
Founded in 1883 as the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, PPG was the first financially successful plate glass enterprise in the nation. By 1899, the company expanded its operations into chemicals by building an independent plant in Barberton, Ohio to supply soda ash for its glass-making operations. 

 Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company
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.


At the turn of the century, PPG started building its coatings business by acquiring a major interest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin based Patton Paint Company. In 1902, PPG one of the first American companies to expand its operations into Europe. Today, PPG has more than 140 manufacturing facilities and equity affiliates and operates in more than 60 countries.


Electrodeposition coating application (E-coat)
process.
100 years of R&D
Fueled by a strong interest in innovation, PPG opened its first research-and-development facility in 1910 which lead to a series of glass-making technological innovations that greatly improved product quality and increased production.  PPG’s history of innovation has also led to other notable inventions include coatings that protect cars from rust, paints that contain no volatile organic compounds (VOCs), optical products that lighten and darken automatically, and transparent armor for military applications. Virtually all of PPG’s R&D activity occurs in Western Pennsylvania facilities in Allison Park, Springdale, Monroeville and Harmar Township.     
 
Innovation and Global Transformation
In 1968, Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company changed its name to PPG Industries, an important step that acknowledges the company's diversification and global transformation from a North American-centric manufacturer to the leading global coatings and specialty products company.

Today, the coatings and specialty materials segments represent about 80 percent of the company’s portfolio versus 51 percent 12 years ago. In addition, the United States now accounts for only 43 percent of PPG’s nearly $16 billion in sales versus two-thirds of sales in 1997. Over that same time, Asia has grown from 3 percent of the company to about 12 percent. In Europe, PPG has dramatically increased its presence by acquiring SigmaKalon, a Netherlands-based worldwide coatings producer.