Plant celebrates 75 years

The grey-toned Corning Inc. plant near downtown that once built large melting pots to carry molten glass has come a long way in 75 years.It's also seen a large number of workers pass through its doors.

To that end, a ceremony took place Friday to honor long-time employees of Corning Inc. and celebrate the 75th anniversary of the company's local Refractory Plant.

Corning Chairman and CEO James R. Houghton offered congratulatory pins and words of thanks to a handful of employees who have worked at the company for 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 and 45 years.

The ceremony took place in front of the 75-year-old Corning Refractory Plant, originally named the Corning Glass Works Pot and Clay Plant, located across from Wegmans on the corner of Front and Bridge streets.

"This is a special plant, and it has a marvelous history," Houghton said Friday, mentioning the building was built "a little bit before" he was born.

Bought from the Hood Foundry in September 1929, Corning used the facility to manufacture large, fragile pots designed to hold from 100 to 3,000 pounds of melted glass.

Houghton said his first contact with the plant was in 1952, when he took a summer job at Corning Inc. as a "mailboy." It was the same year the facility was renamed as the Corning Glass Works Refractory Plant.

By then, glassmaking technology had advanced to the point where large melting pots were unnecessary.

Houghton said his second trip to the facility was a Christmastime visit in 1983, as CEO.

He said he remembers an old Corning employee - named Nick - who intentionally waited outside during Houghton's visit.

"He hated me, and he hated Christmas," Houghton joked "He'd stand out in the snow until I left, and then he'd go back in."

After the ceremony, Corning Refractory Plant Manager Joseph Neuberry presented Houghton with a small wooden replica of the facility's original "glass feeder" refractory tanks.

Neuberry said the plant - which underwent two major renovations in 1998 and 2003 - currently employs about 48 workers, and manufactures melting tanks used in glass production all over the world.

"It's been through a lot of changes ... throughout the years," Neuberry said Friday.

600450 Plant celebrates 75 years
Date: 12 October 2004

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