Inner_AboutUs_History
Company History

Pittsburgh-based PPG is a global supplier of paints, coatings, optical products, specialty materials, chemicals, glass and fibreglass.

The company has more than 140 manufacturing facilities and equity affiliates and operates in more than 60 countries. Sales in 2009 were $12.2 billion.

Our success is driven by a tradition of well-regarded product and process technology, and management and ethical standards. Join us for a look back at 125 years of breakthrough ideas and transformative innovations.


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.

1898
The company develops a process for producing thinner glass with the plate process, thereby broadening uses for the high-quality glass. By the century's end, its plate glass production capacity reaches more than 20 million square feet annually, far exceeding that of any US competitor.

1900s
Looking ahead, PPG acquires the Patton Paint Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a good fit for the company since 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 the supply of soda ash necessary to manufacture glass.

PPG becomes one of the first US 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.

1920s
The automotive industry starts using more glass as the open touring car gives way to the sedan.

PPG revolutionises plate-glass-making 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" to 40 automakers.

1930s
PPG introduces Solexheat-absorbing glass.

PPG shows its muscle and introduces Herculite tempered glass, several times stronger and more shatter-resistant than ordinary plate glass.

1940s
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).

1950s
Post-WWII prosperity leads to increased car production and home and building construction.

The company introduces lead-free house paints and begins to manufacture fibre glass for circuit boards, window screening, and plastic reinforcement.

1960s
PPG's businesses are diverse. A number of foreign production operations and strategic planning move 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 an added bonus, the company reaches $1 billion in sales.

1970s
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.

1980s
PPG introduces TESLIN®, 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.

1990s
PPG develops photochromatic lenses that automatically darken in sunlight and block harmful UV rays. Today, TRANSITIONS® lenses are the eyecare industry's most recommended photochromatic 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.

2000s
PPG silicas are used to strengthen the performance of athletic footwear, while flexible coatings add durability and colour.

As the need for alternative energy sources grows, PPG fibreglass plays a major role in the manufacturing of lighter and stronger wind turbines. PPG broadens its transparent armour product portfolio with the acquisition of Sierracin Corp., adding high-performance lightweight transparent armour solutions that can withstand severe ballistic and blast threats.

In 2008, PPG makes the largest acquisition in its history – the SigmaKalon Group, a worldwide coatings producer. This accelerates the company's transformation to focusing on coatings and specialty products.
 

125 years

 

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