Glass plant might be saved

Glass bottles could once again roll off the production lines at Glenshaw Glass Co. in Shaler. Negotiations continued into the early evening Monday to sell the closed company, which yesterday was only weeks away from having its glass-making equipment auctioned to the highest bidder.

Riding to the 11th-hour rescue is Pittsburgh businessman William Kelman, who saved L.E. Smith Glass Co. of Mt. Pleasant, Westmoreland County, from a similar fate earlier this year.

Glenshaw Glass was heavily damaged in September's flooding and closed in November, idling 350 workers. The closing came after PNC Bank ousted former owner John Ghaznavi for defaulting on $11 million in loans. Glenshaw Glass has been controlled the past nine months by Pittsburgh-based Meridian Group.

Meridian President Margaret Good said yesterday that the last remaining hurdle to a sale is for the plant's union, the Glass Molders Pottery Plastics and Allied Workers International Union, to waive a clause in a contract it negotiated with Ghaznavi stipulating that any new operator recognize the labor agreement.

A deal has been reached with Kelman in principal and the company's unsecured creditors have agreed to it, Good said. Terms were not disclosed. She previously estimated it will take $5 million to get Glenshaw's three furnaces back into production.

Walter Thorn, international vice president for the union, said yesterday the union has yet to have a direct discussion with Kelman. Waiving the so-called successor clause in the contract would be "negotiable," Thorn said.

Under Good, Glenshaw Glass has sold off nearly all of its remaining $11 million inventory and collected most of about $5 million due from customers.

If the sale falls through, Pittsburgh-based Harry Davis & Co. is scheduled to auction off the plant's equipment on Sept. 14 and 15. A New York commercial real estate firm, meanwhile, had been preparing to market the land along Route 8.

Dan Casinelli, chief operating officer of D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc. brewery in Pottsville, Schuylkill County, formerly Glenshaw's largest customer, is rooting for the plant's revival.

"The glass situation is getting critical," he said. "We operate every day not knowing if we're going to be able to get the glass (bottles) we need to survive," he said.

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