Two weeks ago, I visited the PPG float glass plant in Carlisle, Pa. Being new to this industry, it was only appropriate that I see how glass is actually made. I thought I had a bit of an idea about the process. After all, I’ve seen the movie Sweet Home Alabama in which lightning hits sand and it makes glass. I mean that explains it all, right?

Here we are at PPG's float glass plant in Carlisle, Pa. L-R Tara Taffera, Nick St. Dennis, Casey Flores
Here we are at PPG’s float glass plant in Carlisle, Pa.
L-R Tara Taffera, Nick St. Denis, Casey Flores

Not quite. It turns out manufacturing glass is a rather involved process requiring constant supervision.

Going in, I didn’t really know what to expect … except heat. But besides with perspiration, I left the plant with two main impressions.

1) I witnessed a noteworthy feat of engineering.

I was so impressed by the line’s ability to produce glass from start to finish, a lot of which happened automatically, on two quarter-mile long machines. That brings me to my next point.

2) I saw an amazing example of what American manufacturing could be.

While many manufacturers are fleeing the U.S. for cheaper labor and corporate tax rates (the US corporate tax rate is 39.1 percent, the highest in the world), I caught a glimpse of real American manufacturing. The float line runs 24/7 and produces much of the nation’s glass, which allows the plant to employ 440 people in small-town Carlisle, Pa.

Everyone from Boone, who welcomed us to the plant and exhaustively answered every question I had, to our tour guide, Devin Kennedy, to the people who handled the inspection of the glass and monitored the plant’s machines, they all seemed passionate about their work. I could tell they all take great pride in what they do.

I grew up just south of Pittsburgh. I can remember coming out of the Fort Pitt Tunnel and each time, the iconic PPG building would instantly catch my eye. I would say to my parents, “That is the coolest building ever!” It makes me proud to be from Pittsburgh, knowing that from there has come many plants like the one I visited in Carlisle and from those plants has come glass that I see every day.

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