By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Few people know what goes on in the huge, sprawling plant on the banks of the Maumee River in Rossford. But countless people around the world look at – or through- their products every day.
Corporate officials have heard the plant referred to as “Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory” because of its mysterious nature.
But the magic behind the walls of NSG Pilkington was revealed Thursday evening when the company was named Wood County’s Corporate Citizen of the Year.
The company, one of the largest manufacturers in the glass industry, started out as Libbey-Owens-Ford – the last names of three inventors in the glass business – Edward Drummond Libbey, Michael Joseph Owens and Edward Ford. The earliest roots reach back to 1818 in England.
Todd Huffman, plant manager, accepted the Corporate Citizen of the Year award and talked about the float glass and advanced assembly plant that sits on 148 acres in Rossford. The mission of NSG Pilkington, the company’s current name, is to produce quality glass with world-class yields, he said.
“We focus all of our efforts to satisfy our customers,” Huffman said.
The company has 350 employees at its highly robotic Rossford plant, and another 120 engineers and finance employees at its Northwood location. Many of the workers are multi-generations of the same families.
“We have an outstanding workforce,” he said. And the company has a great safety record, he added. “These are some of the best glass people in the world.”
The company sells to automotive customers around the world, as far away as South Korea and Turkey. The glass is also used in architecture as windows and shower doors, Huffman said.
Some of the newer uses for NSG Pilkington’s glass are found in electronics, such as touchscreens and TV displays, as solar panels, and as refrigerator doors.
Since the high heat furnaces can’t be shut down, work at the Rossford plant goes on day and night, every day of the year.
“We work around the clock,” Huffman said.
Huffman said that he briefly left the company in 2012, but returned in 2015.
“This is a company that really does the right thing for our employees, our communities and our customers,” he said. “I’m proud to say that I work there.”
Huffman thanked the county economic development commission for the award.
“It’s humbling. It’s much appreciated,” he said.
And Wood County Commissioner Craig LaHote marveled at the success of the company.
“It’s pretty amazing we have this in our backyard,” he said.
In other business at the annual Wood County Economic Development Commission dinner meeting, four members were sworn into the board, including Doug Miller, Jerry Greiner, Lane Williamson and Bob Graham.
Outgoing board member Jack Jones, of Poggemeyer Design Group, was recognized as the longest serving member in the board’s 25-year history. Jones served for 16 years, and was president during the recession, said Wade Gottschalk, executive director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission.
It was during that period, that Jones encouraged the commission to start retention and expansion visits to existing companies in Wood County – a program that has proved to be very beneficial, Gottschalk said.