How PPG is Transitioning its Glass Business to Vitro

July 27th, 2016 by Nick St. Denis

News of PPG’s sale of its glass division to Vitro was revealed to employees during an 8:05 a.m. staff meeting last Thursday, about a half hour before the company announced that it was selling its flat glass business to the Mexican manufacturer.

“[We received] a very positive response from all the employees,” PPG vice president of flat glass Dick Beuke told DWM in an exclusive interview. “Everyone understood Vitro would provide bigger and better opportunities for us.”

Perhaps the most important aspect of Vitro’s acquisition of PPG’s flat glass business assets for $750 million, at least for the employees, is that the company will retain all staff, operating facilities and processes. The major difference would be that the business would operate under a company exclusively focused on the manufacture and development of glass as opposed to one focused primarily on coatings. It was moving from one where glass was “important, but not strategic” to one where it was both.

PPG sought to put the business in hands that would help it grow, and Vitro was the right company at the right time.

Beuke said Vitro’s executives are dedicated to the people who currently make up the business. “Their CEO is committed to North America and the U.S.,” he said. “They are buying a U.S. business and want the U.S. people to run it. … They’ve been very sensitive to that.”

Based on discussions, Beuke expects Vitro will replicate all employee benefits within the North American business. “That’s going to be our challenge over the next four to six months—to get off of PPG’s systems and benefits, and move to Vitro’s. But the anticipation is that all benefits will stand. We know it’s a very important area, and the CEO of Vitro is very committed to the people.”

While the business foresees a smooth transition for employees, it is working to ensure the same for its customers.

“The first thing we did was we got out in front of it,” said Beuke. “We told our customers that the salesperson you were dealing with yesterday will be the same person you’re going to deal with in the future.”

“It’s the same with our entire organization,” he added. “Probably the biggest concern was, ‘What’s going to change?’ Vitro doesn’t have a U.S. presence, and we have very weak presence in Mexico. … The people and the processes aren’t changing, because there’s no overlap.”

He said the business also plans to maintain its current affiliations with other companies in the industry, and that it will keep its certified fabricator program.

Eventually, all trademarks and PPG product lines will move to Vitro. “Over time, we will have a brand transition from PPG Glass to Vitro Glass,” Beuke said. “… That will take some time.”

This is the second in a series of stories covering the aftermath of PPG’s glass business sale to Vitro. Click here to read the first part.

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