PPG's 1984 neo-gothic headquarters at PPG Place, in Pittsburgh, was designed by Philip Johnson and John Burgee to reflect the company's glass-making heritage.
Flickr user cdschock via Creative Commons PPG's 1984 neo-gothic headquarters at PPG Place, in Pittsburgh, was designed by Philip Johnson and John Burgee to reflect the company's glass-making heritage.

PPG, the company responsible for bringing plate-glass manufacturing to the U.S., is exiting the category with the announcement last week that it will sell the assets of its flat-glass business to manufacturer Vitro, headquartered near Monterrey, Mexico. This continues the Pittsburgh-based company’s ongoing transition away from glass and to paints, coatings, and specialty materials. Following the sale of PPG’s automotive glass business earlier this year, its divesting of its European fiberglass operations last month, and this announcement, and along with a host of acquisitions of major paints and coatings businesses in the past decade, the paints, coatings, and specialty-materials categories will now account for 98 percent of the company's portfolio.

The latest deal is expected to close by the end of 2016. PPG will divest its flat-glass manufacturing and glass-coatings operations, which make glass that is fabricated into products used primarily in residential and commercial construction. Meanwhile, the deal opens up the North American markets to Vitro, which to date had lacked significant presence there.

“This transaction represents the end of an historic era for PPG as a manufacturer of flat glass, and it is another major step in our portfolio transformation to focus on paints, coatings, and specialty materials,” PPG president and CEO Michael McGarry said in a statement. “Upon completion of this transaction, the flat glass operations will become part of a company that is focused on growing its core glass business.” McGarry will become PPG's chairman and CEO effective Sept. 1 when the current executive chairman, Charles Bunch, retires.

The $750 million deal will give Vitro, Mexico’s largest glass manufacturer, control of four of PPG’s production facilities—in Fresno, Calif., Salem, Ore., Carlisle, Pa., and Wichita Falls, Texas—and four distribution sites in Canada. PPG's flat-glass business unit has about 1,200 employees.

“The PPG flat glass business has a long and successful heritage of leadership in the industry and we expect it to continue under Vitro’s ownership,” says Derek Malmquist, vice president of marketing at Sage, which is a fabrication partner of PPG for its electrochromic glazing products, told the USGlass News Network. “The SageGlass-PPG partnership will continue as we grow the market for dynamic glass as a unique solution for the needs of building owners and designers.”