Archive for February, 2010

U.S. Glass Manufacturers, International Competition and More Plant Layoffs

February 17, 2010

A recent article on GlassGlobal points out that when the original World Trade Center towers were built in Manhattan in the 1970s all of the glass used was provided by glass manufacturers in the United States.  When the most recent bids for glass for the new World Trade Center buildings were awarded, a Chinese company won the contract for the opaque glass for the first 20 floors and Guardian Industries won the contract for the layered glass on the upper 85 floors.  Guardian will be making the glass at its Carleton, Michigan plant.

More than 15 years ago our office got a call from a float glass customer, who asked us why non-U.S. manufacturers could immediately deliver glass to him when he ordered it, while U.S. manufacturers would schedule a delivery in 1-2 months.  As I told him then, the non-U.S. manufacturers had boatloads of glass sitting offshore, waiting to find customers to whom they would sell and deliver the glass, while the U.S. manufacturers were working on the traditional manufacturing scheduling system which produced glass to fill orders.  The glass sitting on shipping vessels offshore had been manufactured in plants which were subsidized by their governments, and those plants were making glass whether or not the company had orders for it.

As the GlassGlobal article points out, the glass industry in the U.S. cannot grow because glass imports are competing for customers and many of the glass plants which used to be available are gone.  We get calls in our office every few months from someone who wants to build a glass plant in another country by buying and shipping overseas a closed glass glass plant in the U.S.

Many of the U.S. glass plants which are are still operating are not at full capacity.   According to GlassGlobal, the Carleton, Michigan plant which will produce the glass for the new World Trade Center buildings is operating at 85% capacity.

Several glass plant layoffs have been announced since the beginning of the year:

The West Virginia State Journal reported at the end of January that the AGC float glass plant in Flemington (Jerry Run) will lay off 180 workers as it stops production, with the furnace on “hothold.”

The Zeledyne float plant in Tulsa, Oklahoma will be shutting a production line, according to, laying off 210 architectural glass workers.

Owens-Illinois is closing its Clarion, Pa. container plant in July, 2010, and the Clarion News reports local governments and union officials are working to try to keep the plant open.

We are updating our listings for the upcoming 2010 Glass Factory Directory of North America now, and as always, bracing ourselves to hear bad news about plant closings and layoffs as well as looking for the bright side of the North American glass industry.