WORCESTER, MA, January 15, 2010 – The 125th anniversary of the creation of Norton Company and the establishment of the company’s manufacturing operations in Worcester are being celebrated throughout this year, beginning next week with the placement of large, colorful banners through Saint-Gobain’s Greendale campus in Worcester.
In 1885, seven Worcester entrepreneurs established Norton Emery Wheel Company to manufacture the world’s first grinding wheel. Originally made in a pottery shop, this grinding wheel was the first ceramic-bonded wheel to be precision-made and mass produced. It would eventually revolutionize the metalworking industry by replacing the metal cutting process with precision grinding.
During the next century, the company changed its name to Norton Company and grew to become the world’s leading supplier of abrasives and high-performance materials. Saint-Gobain, itself a world leader, acquired the company in 1990 but retained the Norton brand name for many of its products sold throughout the world. Saint-Gobain’s headquarters offices for its worldwide abrasives business are still located in Worcester, exactly where Norton was founded 125 years ago.
“This anniversary is a fantastic opportunity to acknowledge our rich company history, and to show appreciation for what has come to be the world’s foremost abrasives brand,” says Mark Rayfield, Vice President of Abrasives North America and Superabrasives Worldwide for Saint-Gobain. “For 125 years, Norton has been a vital part of the city of Worcester. While the company has evolved from a nineteenth century pottery shop to become a world leader in abrasives and high-performance materials, we have never forgotten where we came from, or the city that made it possible. This is also a wonderful opportunity to spotlight the many contributions associated with the Norton name in the abrasives, ceramics and plastics businesses throughout the world, and of course for thousands of employees associated with the company and brand over the past 125 years.”
A variety of activities to mark the anniversary are planned throughout the year, including a special employee celebration in June at the company’s Greendale campus.
With more than 1,000 subsidiaries in 57 countries, Saint-Gobain is the world's largest manufacturer and distributor of building materials, and a leader in the production of high-performance materials and glass containers. Founded in 1665 and headquartered in Paris, Saint-Gobain had worldwide sales of $64.4 billion in 2008 and employs approximately 209,000 people.
In Massachusetts, the company has approximately 2,300 employees, with major production facilities in Milford, Northampton, Norwood, Taunton and Worcester. Saint-Gobain’s recently expanded facility in Northboro is the company’s largest worldwide R&D center.
In the United States and Canada (www.saint-gobain-northamerica.com/), Saint-Gobain employs approximately 20,000 people, and had sales of $8.1 billion in 2008. The company has approximately 160 manufacturing plants and more than 150 distribution outlets throughout North America.
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