Company History 

PPG Industries' vision is to continue to be the world’s leading coatings and specialty products company. Through leadership in innovation, sustainability and color, PPG helps customers in industrial, transportation, consumer products, and construction markets and aftermarkets to enhance more surfaces in more ways than does any other company.

Founded in 1883, PPG has global headquarters in Pittsburgh and operates in nearly 70 countries around the world. Sales in 2012 were $15.2 billion. PPG shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (symbol: PPG).


Captain John B. Ford (left) and John Pitcairn together established the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company.
Captain John B. Ford and John Pitcairn together establish the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company (PPG).
They set up shop in Creighton, Pa., along the Allegheny River – about 20 miles north of Pittsburgh. PPG becomes the first commercially successful U.S. producer of high-quality, thick flat glass using the plate process. The Creighton facility is the world's first plate glass plant to fuel melting furnaces with locally-produced natural gas, stimulating widespread use of clean-burning gas as an industrial fuel. Edward Ford is named the company's first president and CEO, serving in both roles until 1897. (Click here to see a timeline detailing PPG's corporate leadership through the years.)


The company develops a process for producing thinner glass with the plate process, thereby broadening uses for the high-quality glass. By century-end, 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 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.
  • PPG shows its muscle and introduces 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 WWII, 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-WWII prosperity leads to increased car production and home and building 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.


  • 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, menus and much more.
  • 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 perfomance 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.