PPG is Painting the Township Vermillion
PPG is coming to town, adding a welcome splash of color to Cranberry’s growing portfolio of Fortune 500 companies. But it also brings along a lingering identity issue.
For decades after the Pittsburgh-based corporation changed its name to PPG Industries, people persisted in calling it by its former name, the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company.
That name change wasn’t just a cosmetic re-branding for the firm, which was founded in the Allegheny Valley back in 1883. The problem was that by 1968, when the company officially changed its name, it had long outgrown its original moniker.
For instance, it was no longer just a Pittsburgh company; it had operations all over the world. The plate glass manufacturing process by that time had become obsolete. Even the reference to glass itself overlooked what had, by then, become a diversified business including a variety of paint and chemical products. And since that time, the company has continued to evolve.
Today, glass represents less than 10% of PPG’s sales, and it has spun off its commodity chemicals business as well. In their place, the company has focused on specialized industrial and high performance coatings - ranging from consumer house paints to marine coatings, auto finishes, aircraft sealants, adhesives, and fire retardant materials for construction. PPG’s architectural coatings represent a large segment of that business.
Shift Towards Coatings
Part of the company’s shift toward coatings was organic - growing out of a series of technical successes achieved earlier at its Allison Park coatings research center. But some of it involved acquiring other companies in the rapidly consolidating coatings industry - companies which had developed technologies, distribution systems, market positions, brand recognition and price points that complemented its own, including a number of domestic paint makers and others based overseas. Its more familiar American consumer brands now include Glidden, Olympic, Porter Paints, Ralph Lauren and Liquid Nails, in addition to its historic line of PPG Pittsburgh Paints.
As a result, PPG today is the single largest supplier of paints and finishes for the world’s $95 billion coatings market. To help sustain that global leadership, the company is now consolidating key business and technical personnel from its various North American architectural paint operations, particularly involving people who had worked for AkzoNobel’s decorative paint division, which PPG acquired earlier this year.
But instead of building them a new office or housing them in PPG’s signature downtown Pittsburgh complex, the company leased the new, but never fully occupied, 120,000 square foot Building 4 on the Westinghouse campus in Cranberry Woods. That site is now on its way to becoming the headquarters for PPG’s North American architectural coatings business and, by early 2015, will be the workplace for 500 of its employees focused on marketing, training, supply chain management, support services, customer service and administration of the division’s operations.
Extending its palette. Scott Sinetar, Vice President of PPG Industries’ North American Architectural Coatings, is overseeing the business unit’s move to Cranberry Woods, most of which is expected to be completed by the end of 2014. The company, which is the world’s leading supplier of paints and finishes, includes an assortment of consumer and maintenance contractor brands, as well as specialized industrial coatings.
“When we started the project, we thought that either greater Pittsburgh or Ohio would be the two logical places to consolidate the business,” according to Scott Sinetar, Vice President of PPG’s Architectural Coatings business. “PPG already had a very strong position in Ohio, and AkzoNobel added to that with their team in Strongsville, near Cleveland. But when we did an analysis of all the options; we ended up in Cranberry, which is between our site in downtown Pittsburgh and Strongsville. So the location made sense.”
Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development was also helpful in the process, Sinetar acknowledged. That help included a program grant, job creation tax credits, an employee training grant, and a 15-year loan. But the strategic location of Class A office space in Cranberry Woods, and its proximity to the company’s planned coatings lab expansion in Harmar, as well as to its downtown and Ohio locations, also helped to make the Township a clear choice.
“We are excited how the whole process worked,” Sinetar observed. “We are really happy about the whole transition into the Cranberry Township area.”