The glass manufacturing facility formally known as Anchor Glass now has signs up in front of its Griffith Street office bearing the plant’s new name, “Ardagh Glass Inc., Salem Glass Plant” following a recent change in ownership.But despite the new look, plant officials said the facility is very much the same glass container producer it’s been for the past 150 years.The Ardagh Group, a global leader in glass and metal packaging solutions, is the new owner of the former Anchor Glass plant on Griffith Street in Salem. (Staff Photo by Cindy Hepner/South Jersey Times)“We’re one of the largest manufacturing employers in South Jersey.We know that’s very important to the community, and we take lot of pride in that,” said Plant Manager Gary Shears. “We’re proud of being an important and vital supplier for the area, and to be located here in Salem County.”
The plant has deep roots in the city dating back to 1863, and according to documents provided by the Ardagh Group, the Salem facility is the oldest manufacturer of glass containers still operating in the United States.
While most in Salem County likely remember the facility as Anchor Glass, a named the plant had from 1983 to 2012, it’s gone through numerous ownership changes through the generations.
It opened as Hall, Pancoast and Craven (1863-1881); then it became Craven Brothers (1881-1895); then Salem Glass Works (1895-1934); it then became Anchor Cap and Closure Corp. (1934-1938); and then Anchor Hocking Glass (1938-1983).
According to plant officials, the facility has also evolved and grown through the generations. For example, products were hand-blown when it started in 1863, and machines for making bottles were introduced in 1913.
The plant then continued to modernize and automate its processes and increase productivity. By comparison, in 1907 a crew of five men made roughly 2,000 beer bottles in eight hours. Today, the facility can produce 715,000 beer bottles in that same eight hour period.
The Salem plant currently employs more than 285 workers and remains a vital economic asset for Salem City and the county, producing about 550 tons worth of glass products each day.
“They are a staple for our community and one of the city’s most valued employers. They employ a lot of people in the city and Salem County,” said Mayor Charles Washington. “ They’ve been a good business partner and we’re looking forward to their continued success.”
The facility’s recent change in ownership came when Anchor Glass Container Corp. was acquired by Ardagh Group from private investment funds managed by Wayzata Investment Partners LLC in a deal announced in July 2012. The transaction involved total cash consideration of $880 million.
Anchor, which was headquartered in Tampa, Fla., was the third largest glass container manufacturer in the U.S. at the time of the purchase, with eight facilities located throughout the country.
Ardagh Group, based in Luxembourg, is a global leader in rigid packaging solutions, producing metal and glass packaging for most of the world's leading food, beverage and consumer care brands. Including operations obtained through the purchase of Anchor, Ardagh operates 100 facilities in 25 countries, and employs around 17,700 people.
Ardagh’s customers include: AB InBev, Heineken, Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Bacardi Martini, Heinz, Nestle, Danone, Unilever, Procter and Gamble, L’Oreal, Snapple, Coca Cola, Del Monte and many more international brands.
Since the purchase last year, Shears said the Salem plant has seen little change to its daily operations.
“We haven’t seen many changes from our standpoint. We’ve been continuing business as we always have, serving the same customer base,” Shears said. “The only difference is now we’re owned by glass people. We were owned by financial people for several years, which worked fine, but these folks really know how to run a glass plant.”
Anchor was not the only glass plant in the South Jersey area purchased by the Ardagh Group last year. The international company also acquired Leone Industries, located in Bridgeton, in March 2012.