Glass Products Made of Purchased Glass

SIC 3231

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

This category covers establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing glass products from purchased glass. Establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing optical lenses, except ophthalmic, are classified in SIC 3827: Optical Instruments and Lenses, and those manufacturing ophthalmic lenses are classified in SIC 3851: Ophthalmic Goods.

Industry Snapshot

Companies within this industry manufacture many items across many industry segments. One major category is everyday home glass products, such as mirrors, beverage glasses, shower doors, bathtub enclosures, picture glass, ash trays, lighting fixture glass, glass top tables, display shelving, window glass, automobile glass, clock glass, patio doors, oven door panels, novelty and souvenir glass items, appliance glass, and cosmetic and perfume containers. Industry products are also used in an extensive number of industrial, technical, and other non-household applications, such as safety and bullet-proof glass, instrument dials, precision glass tubing, stained glass, industrial safety glasses and welding lenses, greenhouse glass, glass fiber used in optical components and for data and non-data transmission (faceplates, sensors, and glass-based optical coatings), chemical glassware, instrument panels, cathode ray tube screens, and high-tolerance specialty glass products like elapsed-time indicators and gravity-sensing electrolytic transducers.

The value of industry shipments plummeted to $4.7 billion during the last half of the first decade of the 2000s, while the total number of companies climbed from 1,635 in the middle of the first decade of the 2000s to 3,363 in 2008. Industry employment fell to 42,358 compared to 55,587 in 2005. Although some businesses were increasing production, others were closing as the challenging economic situation intensified. The economic recession took a toll on the industry with revenues falling to nearly $3.1 billion in 2010.

Organization and Structure

Firms in the purchased glass products industry are distinguished from other glass manufacturing firms, known as primary glass manufacturers, because their products are not made directly from raw glass materials but from secondary glass bought from other companies.

Product Manufacture.
Because industry firms do not make glass from raw materials as do primary glass manufacturers, the methods for making glass products from purchased glass vary with the specific product. Firms in the industry buy glass as float glass (a type of flat glass manufactured by floating the glass in a bath of molten tin); sheet glass; plate glass; glass sand; and "cullet," or glass scrap. Other materials and supplies used in the manufacture of purchased glass products include industrial inorganic chemicals, plastic film and sheets, ground or otherwise treated nonmetallic minerals, and sodium carbonate (soda ash), as well as paperboard containers, wood boxes and pallets, and lumber.

Some of the more common glass products that illustrate the different glass manufacturing methods are laboratory glass, laminated glass, mirror glass, ornamental glass, safety glass, and stained glass.

Laboratory Glassware.
Laboratory glass products like test tubes, beakers, vials, and glass for distilling liquids are often made of borosilicate glass (a combination of boric oxide, silica sand, and other chemicals) because it has a high natural resistance to temperature change and corrosion, making it ideal for scientific, pharmaceutical, and some household uses. A common manufacturing method for laboratory glassware is machine blowing, which feeds molten glass into a blowing element. Jets of air are blown into the liquefied glass, causing it to expand and conform to predetermined dimensions with the aid of molds. Another common glassmaking method is machine pressing, where molten glass, cut at regular intervals into individual dollops, is dropped into molds and then shifted beneath a plunging or pressing element that gives the glass its final shape.

Laminated Glass.
Laminated, or compound, glass is composed of two or more sheets of glass and a layer of plastic fused together by heating in a pressurized tank or autoclave. When laminated glass products like automobile windshields are broken, they crack rather than shatter because the fragments adhere to the plastic layer, maintaining the glass's transparency and preventing shards from scattering.

Mirror Glass.
Mirrors are made by treating washed float glass with a tin-based mixture, then spraying the surface with a "silvering" solution made of silver nitrate and water, followed by a "reducing" agent. The combination of the tin solution and the reducing agent creates a reflective silver film on the glass surface, which is then treated with a layer of copper and a protective lacquer and allowed to dry.

Ornamental Glass.
Ornamental glass products are made by running sheets of glass through rollers that shape or emboss the glass surface according to the specific (and often trademarked) design of the individual firm. Some types of ornamental glass, each made using different techniques, include light scattering glass, "wave" glass, lined glass, curved or semicircular "roundel" glass, and glass with flowers or other decorative impressions.

Safety Glass.
Safety, or tempered, glass is designed to break into small, rounded pieces of a predetermined size when shattered, reducing the creation of dangerous sharp fragments. Such glass is manufactured by heating sheets of flat glass, then subjecting them to bursts of cold air, which causes the interior of the glass to cool more slowly than the surface. The physical bond between the interior and external glass layers is such that when the pane is broken, the fragments are small, uniformly sized, and non-injurious.

Stained Glass.
Stained glass consists of segments of individually colored panes joined together to create an image or pattern. The three methods for staining glass are painting, fusion with metallic oxides, and enameling. Glass painting involves applying pigments to hardened glass, then permanently burning or baking the pigment onto the surface of the glass in an oven. Alternatively, metallic oxides of varying colors can be added to glass while it is still molten, changing the tint of the glass itself when it cools. Metallic oxides are also used in enameling methods but are applied to hardened rather than molten glass. The enamel coating is then bonded with the glass by firing or baking.

Industry Specialization.
Many industry firms manufacture more than one type of glass product. For example, Apogee Enterprises Inc. of Minnesota produces insulating, heat-tempered, laminated, non-glare, picture, automotive, and bullet-resistant glass. A few firms, however, such as American Mirror Company, Inc., of Virginia; Fisher Skylights, Inc., of New York; and Riordan Stained Glass Studio of Ohio, specialize in a single line of glass products. Industry specialization in glass product manufacturing is also reflected in the names of some industry firms, such as Artistic Shower Door & Mirror Company Inc., Pilkington Aerospace Inc., National Bullet Proof Inc., and Christmas by Krebs Corporation, among others.

End Users.
The major users of glass products, including some non-industry products but excluding such containers as bottles and jars, consist of individual consumers; manufacturers, such as motor vehicle and car body; exporters; restaurants, bars, and other eating and drinking establishments; automotive repair shops and service businesses; lighting fixture and equipment manufacturers; miscellaneous plastics products manufacturers; hotels and other hospitality businesses; and electric lamp manufacturers.

Background and Development

Between 1972 and 1987, the purchased glass products industry reported continuous solid growth, with the only declines in the value of shipments occurring in the mid-1970s. The value of industry shipments over those 16 years more than quadrupled from $1.3 billion to $5.4 billion, the number of industry firms increased 38 percent from 817 to 1,325, and employment grew 52 percent, from 33,700 to 51,100. At the same time, the cost of materials and payroll declined from 73 to 67 percent of total shipment value industry wide.

In the 10 years between 1987 and 1997, the industry's shipments again showed dramatic growth, climbing 79 percent from $5.4 billion in 1987 to $9.67 billion in 1997. In contrast, the number of companies in the industry grew a modest 15.3 percent from 1,325 in 1987 to 1,528 in 1997. The cost of materials and payroll inched downward from 67 to 64.7 percent of total shipment value from 1987 to 1997.

Faced with decreased demand for glass products, industry firms entered into joint ventures, introduced new products, and improved facilities in the early 1990s to stimulate sales. Between 1992 and 1994, glass container shipments averaged about 70,000 per quarter, with seasonal fluctuations.

The value of industry shipments grew steadily throughout the early and mid-2000s, increasing from $10.38 billion in 2002 to $11.35 billion in 2005. The cost of materials between 2002 and 2005 grew from $5.01 billion to $5.40 billion. Total industry employment remained fairly steady during this time period, and 2005 figures showed 55,587 people employed in the business.

There were an estimated 3,363 establishments in this $4.7 billion industry in 2008 with combined employment of 42,358. The majority of companies, based on market share, were located in California, Texas, and Florida.

While the industry was highly fragmented, significant industry sectors were producers of stained glass, made from purchased glass; manufacturers of strengthened or reinforced glass; producers of truck and automobile mirrors; and producers of glass windshields, made from purchased glass.

While one industry leader, Safelite Glass Corp., the manufacturing division of Safelite AutoGlass, was increasing output, another leader, Tokyo-based NSG Group, parent company of the Pilkington Automotive glass plant, announced it would close its plant in Clinton, Michigan, by the end of the summer in 2010.

Current Conditions

The industry had an estimated 3,048 establishments manufacturing glass products from purchased glass, accounting for 41.6 percent of market share in 2010 with a value of $3.05 billion and industry-wide employment of 38,087 workers. Of the 3,048 establishments, 1,267 were engaged in manufacturing products from purchased glass with product shipments totaling $542 million. States with the highest concentration of glass manufacturing plants were California, Texas, and New York.

There were 45 companies specializing in manufacturing truck and automobile mirrors made from purchased glass generating $974.6 million; 10 manufacturers of strengthened or reinforced glass with sales of $597.3 million; and 10 companies that manufactured glass doors made from purchased glass with shipments totaling $137.7 million; manufacturers of stained glass made from purchased glass with $112.1 million in industry sales; and 93 companies that manufactured mirrored glass with sales of nearly $100 million.

One industry leader was Guardian Industries, which on June 23, 2011, announced plans to raise the price of its clear float glass 10 percent and prices of clear patterned glass, tinted and specialty glass, coated glass, tempered glass, and laminated glass 8 percent. The price of silver, which was the major element of mirror manufacturing, had almost tripled, resulting in the additional announcement on May 30, 2011, by Guardian that they were implementing a silver surcharge to offset the volatile price swings for silver.

Guardian was expanding with the construction of a $220 million float glass manufacturing plant in Krasny Sulin, Russia, that was scheduled to open in mid-2012. The new plant will complement Guardian's existing glass plant that opened in 2008 in Ryazan, Russia. The new plant, which will be equipped with a "technologically advanced glass coater," will be capable of producing 900 tons of glass per day.

Industry Leaders

Major players in the industry in the middle of the first decade of the 2000s included Guardian Industries Corporation of Auburn Hills, Michigan; Safelite Group, Inc., of Columbus, Ohio; AFG Industries, Inc. of Kingsport, Tennessee; Pilkington North America Inc., of Toledo, Ohio; and PPG Industries of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Guardian, headquartered near the North American home of DaimlerChrysler, was one of the largest glass manufacturers in the world with 19,000 employees and more than 60 facilities on five continents. In addition to auto glass, the company made glass products for use in construction applications. Guardian's sales for 2007 were estimated at $5.4 billion. Safelite was best known for the manufacture of automobile windshields. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2000 due to heavy debt but recovered and restructured as part of Belron SA. The former Safelite became Belron US Inc. in 2007 after it was acquired for $330 million, but it retained the Safelite brands. AFG Industries was North America's largest manufacturer of construction/specialty glass and its second-largest maker of flat glass. AFG was a subsidiary of Asahi Glass America, Inc., which is itself a subsidiary of Asahi Glass Company, Limited, in Japan. The company operated as AGC Flat Glass North America, Inc. Pilkington manufactured glass for the building and automotive industries and had 2008 sales of $967.9 million. PPG Industries produced flat glass and auto glass like windshields as well as coatings like paint and varnish. About 14 percent of the company's $15.8 billion in 2008 sales came from its glass division. The company increased its overseas presence with the acquisition of SigmaKalon from Bain Capital for $3 billion in 2008.

Workforce

In 2005 the industry reported 55,587 employees, a drop from the 60,933 employed in 2002. Production workers totaled 43,892 in 2005 when the industry's payroll was $2.06 billion. Industry-wide employment fell to 42,358 workers in 2008, and decreased further to 38,087 in 2010.

The glass-making occupations with the greatest number of workers were glass product assemblers and fabricators (12 percent of glass industry employment); general helpers, laborers, and material movers (8 percent); hand packers and packagers of manufactured products (6 percent); glass manufacturing machine feeders and offbearers, who are workers who deliver raw materials and carry them away from glass manufacturing machines (5 percent); and blue-collar worker supervisors (5 percent). The remaining two-thirds of industry employees consisted of other production workers, including glass product cutting and slicing machine setters, operators, and tenders; precision glass product inspectors, testers, and graders; glass hand cutters and trimmers; glass furnace, kiln, or kettle operators and tenders; and glass product coating, painting, and spraying machine operators, as well as non-production administrative positions, such as sales staff, general managers and executives, support and clerical staff, and industrial production managers.

© COPYRIGHT 2018 The Gale Group, Inc. This material is published under license from the publisher through the Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan. All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to the Gale Group. For permission to reuse this article, contact the Copyright Clearance Center.

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