Cardinal Glass Corp., an Eden Prairie, Minn.-based maker of glass for windows, doors and other applications, already lists Wilkes-Barre as the site of a "new" location among the online addresses of its glass plants nationwide. Yet officials cannot say a local plant is a certainty.
"Yes, we are considering sites in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., for a glass fabricating facility but have not yet made a final decision," Chief Executive, Roger O'Shaughnessy responded in an e-mail. "We are working with state and local officials at this time," he wrote.
"I would expect a decision some time in the next two weeks."
The scope of the project under consideration remains unknown because correspondence with O'Shaughnessy was limited. A company manager who would be responsible for any plant in this area could not be reached Thursday.
Local officials are mum on the subject.
"It's our policy not to comment on prospects," said Larry Newman, vice president of community and economic development at the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry.
Jim Cummings, president of the regional marketing group Penn's Northeast, likewise would not comment.
Cardinal Glass has been expanding.
It opened a greater than 600,000-square-foot float glass plant in Durant, Okla., last July. It's also building a new plant in Lewis County, Wash., where the regulatory approval process still is under way, according to Lewis County records.
Another plant, a 185,000-square-foot factory in Odell, Ore., opened in January 2004 with about 80 workers, according to a July 2004 report by industry analysts at The Freedonia Group in Cleveland.
The Freedonia Group estimated Cardinal Glass employs about 4,500 and has annual sales of about $450 million. The Freedonia Group report said the company would not confirm the numbers.
The report further said the maker of float, tempered, laminated, insulated and coated glass accounted for about 4 percent of all advanced flat glass sales in the United States in 2003.
An economic development official, who recruited Cardinal Glass to Durant, Okla., said the company has meant a lot to his region. "It is the greatest company I have ever worked with," said Tommy Kramer, executive director of the Durant Industrial Authority.
The Durant plant processes 650 tons of glass a day and employs about 300 people, Kramer said. Durant, which has a population of about 15,000 people, was one of 11 communities in Texas and Oklahoma that vied for the Cardinal Glass plant, Kramer said.
Cardinal sought a southern U.S. production facility to serve the housing market in Oklahoma and Texas, Kramer said.
Kramer said the company had unique requirements in site selection, particularly in regards to utilities. But Kramer said Durant came out on top because: "They (Cardinal Glass) liked our economic development partnership; how the community came together and supported this new company coming to Durant."
Public records from an environmental hearing in Lewis County, Wash., show the company had specific criteria in site selection in that state. For instance, it needed an 80-acre site, a good water supply, favorable topography, a steady supply of natural gas, dependable electricity supply and rail access for the delivery of raw materials.