Pittsburgh Glass Works (PGW, formerly PPG Auto Glass) has your car's windshield covered. The company manufactures automotive OEM and replacement glass products, such as windshields, rear and side windows, sunroofs, and assemblies to automakers, including Daimler. Its Safe & Sound laminated glass provides enhanced protection against the sun, intrusion, and noise, while its Weathermaster heated windshield is capable of melting ice and snow. Additionally, PGW subsidiaries offer consumer products, such as rain repellants (Aquapel), auto glass insurance (LYNX Services), and software and online marketing services for the auto glass industry (GTS). PGW is controlled by investment firm Kohlberg & Company.
The company maintains about 10 fabrication, parts assembly, and distribution facilities in the US, as well as a pair of facilities in Canada and Mexico. PGW operates two LYNX Services claims management call centers in the US. Outside North America, PGW maintains two parts assembly and distribution centers in Germany and France, as well as sales offices in Germany and Japan.
Amid the worsening economy and a decline in orders for auto glass in North America, PGW decided to close facilities in Ontario, Delaware, and Michigan in 2009, resulting in more than 300 layoffs. Also that year the company negotiated wage cuts with employees in Evansville, Pennsylvania, and relocated its headquarters to another location in Pittsburgh to consolidate operations.
While it maintains a smaller footprint in North America, PGW has been looking abroad for growth opportunities. A multi-year contract signed with Daimler in 2009 made PGW the main supplier of windshields and laminated glass for doors and rear windows for the German automaker's Mercedes-Benz passenger cars and SUVs. The agreement, encompassing both product supply and collaborative product development, is expected to position PGW for sustained growth and future profitability. Its Safe & Sound laminated glass, Solextra blue glass, SoundMaster acoustic glass, and Sungate coated glass are existing technologies expected to see increased use on Daimler vehicles. In order to meet the requirements of the partnership, the company must also invest in boosting its manufacturing capacity and technology development capabilities.
To satisfy the contract's demands, PGW in late 2010 began construction on an automotive glass manufacturing facility in Poland. The plant will produce high-tech windshields designed for Europe's premium vehicle market. (About 60% of European automotive production consists of premium vehicles.) The Poland manufacturing facility is expected to begin production in early 2012.
Kohlberg owns a 60% stake in PGW. The remaining 40% is held by the company's former parent, PPG Industries. (Kohlberg paid about $270 million in 2008 for its controlling stake in the firm, then named PPG Auto Glass.) – less
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