SCHOTT Commemorates Knox County Facility’s Rich History
December 10, 2009 (Vincennes, IN) — This year marked 70 years of glass manufacturing in the City of Vincennes. Glass manufacturing in the city continues to flourish, as evidenced by October’s announcement that SCHOTT North America, Inc. is expanding and diversifying its production lines at SCHOTT-Gemtron’s Knox County facility to include transparent armor for the defense industry.
“Being an integral part of such a wonderful, hard-working community has been an incredible experience for SCHOTT,” said Dr. Gerald Fine, President and CEO of SCHOTT North America, Inc. “Seventy years is an impressive accomplishment for any factory, and it’s the people of Vincennes who deserve the credit for this remarkable milestone. Vincennes is a great place to do business. I look forward to many more years of a productive partnership with the city and its residents.”
Chicago-based Hamilton Glass moved to Vincennes in November of 1939. The company employed 30 Vincennes-area residents, who earned an average hourly wage of 35 cents, in its 20,000 square foot facility. Hamilton recycled used photoplates, stripped the silver and repurposed them for other manufacturers. The company would expand into glazing, mirrors, shelving, counter dividers and tempered glass over the next several decades.
In 1970, Hamilton became a wholly owned subsidiary of National Gypsum Company. The 1970s marked a period of growth for the company as the tempered glass industry continued to expand due to legislation requiring safety glazing materials in homes and commercial construction. By the end of the decade, the company occupied 260,000 square feet of plant space in Vincennes and employed around 450 people.
In 1981, the employees at Vincennes bought the business back from National Gypsum with the assistance of Revenue Bonds authorized by the City of Vincennes. In 1985, the company acquired Seattle-based Charlton Industries, a lead-glass window manufacturer, and re-located its production facilities to Vincennes. In 1986, Hamilton was purchased by AFG Industries, which folded it into what is today SCHOTT-Gemtron following an acquisition of a majority interest in Gemtron in 1989 by SCHOTT from AFG.
A Bright Future
Today, SCHOTT-Gemtron’s Vincennes facility processes and finishes glass-ceramic cooktops and flat glass for the home appliance industry. Last month, SCHOTT announced that it had been selected by Oshkosh to provide transparent armor for its new line of mine-resistant, ambush-protected all-terrain vehicles designed specifically for the rugged mountains of Afghanistan. SCHOTT has invested more than $2 million in the Vincennes facility over the past 6 months to accommodate production of the armor windows. SCHOTT-Gemtron currently employs approximately 300 people in Vincennes and plans to hire additional production and supervisory workers over the next year as the new defense line is phased in.
In addition to the historic 70th anniversary, several SCHOTT-Gemtron Vincennes employees are also celebrating milestones this month. Customer service representative Cindi Mattox celebrated her 40th anniversary at Vincennes on November 17. Larry Willis, an engineer, also celebrated his 40th anniversary this month, and Barb Lemons, a receptionist, has been at Vincennes for 39 years.