The 125th anniversary of the founding of Norton Company and the establishment of the company's manufacturing operations in Worcester are being celebrated today at special employee events at Saint-Gobain's Greendale campus in Worcester.
Three employee barbecues—one for each production shift—were held to mark the special anniversary. More than 1,100 employees attended the noon event, at which speeches were delivered by John Jeppson, II, grandson of one of the company founders and past president of Norton Company; Worcester City Manager Michael O'Brien; John Crowe, President of Saint-Gobain's worldwide Abrasives business; and Mark Rayfield, Vice President of Saint-Gobain Abrasives North America.
"Throughout our historical ups and downs, the company has endured," said John Crowe, President of Saint-Gobain Abrasives. "That's because our employees have always figured out how to meet the challenge of the day, made hard decisions, and brought about the changes that have been necessary to keep our businesses successful. We prosper because it's in our DNA. It's commitment and a determination that new employees learn from more experienced people and then pass along to the people who follow."
The company used the occasion to announce the first North American donation of its new international Initiatives Foundation, which makes charitable donations to organizations that support building renovation, energy efficiency, and environmental performance of low-cost housing. Mark Rayfield, Vice President of Saint-Gobain Abrasives North America, presented a check to representatives of Matthew 25, a Worcester-based organization which rehabilitates abandoned homes and then rents the rehabilitated properties to low-income families. The Saint-Gobain donation of nearly $53,000 will be used renovate a home on Benefit Terrace in Worcester.
Background on Norton
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 Originally made in a pottery shop, this grinding wheel was the first ceramic-bonded wheel to be precision-made and mass produced.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 for its worldwide abrasives business are still located in Worcester, exactly where Norton was founded 125 years ago.
Saint-Gobain (http://www.saint-gobain.com) is a world leader in the construction markets, developing a new generation of building products to help meet the global challenges of energy efficiency and environmental protection. Our vision is to offer a wide range of solutions and services to make buildings more energy efficient, while enhancing comfort and quality of life.
In Massachusetts, the company has nearly 2,500 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 (http://www.saint-gobain-northamerica.com/), Saint-Gobain employs approximately 19,000 people, and had sales of $6.8 billion in 2009. The company has approximately 160 manufacturing plants and more than 150 distribution outlets throughout North America.