History of PPGIn the beginning...
PPG was founded in 1883 by entrepreneur and industrial pioneer John Ford, entrepreneurial financier John Pitcairn, and a few other visionary investors.
Ford's pioneering first plant, at Creighton, Pa., along the Allegheny River about 20 miles north of Pittsburgh, made PPG the first commercially successful producer in the United States of high-quality, thick flat glass using the plate process. Much larger than earlier plants that were financial failures, the Creighton plant ended America's reliance on costly European imports for store fronts, display cases, mirrors and other applications requiring sturdy glass with higher quality and clarity than thin, standard window glass.
It was also the world's first plate glass plant to fuel melting furnaces with natural gas, which was produced locally. That innovation quickly stimulated widespread use of clean-burning gas as an industrial fuel.
More plants were built and others acquired. In 1898 PPG developed a process for producing thinner glass with the plate process, thereby broadening uses for the high-quality glass. By century-end, PPG's plate glass production capacity had reached more than 20 million square feet annually, far exceeding that of any U.S. competitor.
Diversification, a new name
PPG's diversification began in 1899 with a plant to provide alkali for its glassmaking operations. It would prove to be the foundation for a major position in the chemicals industry.
The 1900 acquisition of a Milwaukee paint company marked diversification into a business that was a good match for glass, since both product lines commonly reached customers through the same distribution channels. PPG would become a leading maker of coatings and paints.
In 1902, with acquisition of a glass plant, PPG became one of the first American manufacturing companies to establish a European presence. A half-century later, emerging potential of an exciting new glass product led the company to become a fiber glass producer.
By the 1960s the company's businesses were diverse, it had a number of foreign production operations and strategic planning was moving toward a global focus. At the same time, the historic plate process for making flat glass was going obsolete with adoption of the much more efficient float process. Reflecting these dynamics, the company's name was changed in 1968 to PPG Industries.
Its success driven by a tradition of well-regarded product and process technology, management and ethical standards, PPG has paid dividends to its shareholders since 1899 without interruption. Employees as a group are the company's largest shareholder, owning about 16 percent of its shares.
Today's PPG has about 120 manufacturing locations in 23 countries, including subsidiaries, joint ventures and minority affiliates.
PPG's businesses today
Coatings and paints became PPG's largest business segment in 1992. PPG is the world's largest producer of transportation coatings -- coatings and related products for aircraft and land vehicles of all kinds -- and a leading global producer of industrial and packaging coatings. It also makes adhesives and sealants, and is a major North American producer of architectural paints and coatings.
The company's glass units produce flat and fabricated glass products for automotive, aircraft and other transportation applications, residential and commercial construction, and industrial, mirror and furniture applications. North America's largest producer, PPG is a global supplier of automotive glass and the world's largest maker of aircraft transparencies.
Fiber glass units make reinforcements for plastics and other materials, stampable reinforced thermoplastic sheet, and yarns for electronic circuit boards and specialty applications. PPG is the world's second-largest producer of continuous-strand fiber glass.
PPG's chemicals businesses manufacture industrial and specialty products that include chlorine, caustic soda, calcium hypochlorite, chlorinated solvents, vinyl chloride monomer, silicas, Transitions® photochromic plastic optical lenses, monomers for plastic optical lenses, fine chemicals for a variety of specialty applications, and key pharmaceutical intermediates.