No changes planned at Corning plants

August 22, 1997


Staff Writer, Chambersburg

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Corning officials say it will be business as usual for its Consumer Products Co., including plants in Martinsburg, W.Va., and Greencastle, Pa., even though the company announced Wednesday it's been sold to a New York investment firm.

"The business won't change. They'll continue to do what they do," Corning spokeswoman Monica Ott said.

Once the sale of Corning to AEA Investors Inc. is completed, which is expected to be in the next 60 to 90 days, Corning employees should anticipate a smooth transition period with operations running normally, Ott said.

There are no plans for closing plants or laying off workers when the new company takes over, she said.

In fact, the new owners are focusing on growth, which eventually could lead to the hiring of more workers and an overall increase in operations, Ott said.


Greencastle's Plant Manager Rowan Neal said the intent of the sale is to keep the consumer products division fully operational.

The division markets and manufactures cookware and tableware products worldwide including Corelle, Corning Ware, Pyrex glass, Revere Ware and Visions.

The usage of the Corning brand name eventually will be phased out under the new company, according to Ott.

The packaging and distribution center at 1200 S. Antrim Way in Greencastle, which employs about 600 people, is hiring more workers now as the company enters its peak season as baking for Thanksgiving and Christmas gets underway, Neal said.

The plant in Martinsburg, which makes Corning Ware and Visions cookware, employs about 350 people.

Though they've heard few details about the sale, workers at the Greencastle plant seemed relieved to know that they'll be able to keep their jobs.

"It should be a good deal. That's what they're telling us now," said Tim Middlekauff, a package line operator at the plant and member of the American Flint Glass Workers Union.

Middlekauff said the new company plans to honor the union's contract until it expires in 1999.

"The company tells us everything is supposed to remain status quo," he said.

Local employees were wary of their futures when Corning in May announced its intention to sell its consumer products division by the end of the year.

"I think it's just a relief for people to know what is happening," Middlekauff said. "People always expect the worst."

With the consumer products division reporting $630 million in sales in 1996 and an even better financial forecast for this year, Neal said it didn't make sense to close down the profitable division.

"We have excellent products. There's not another product in the world like Corning Ware," he said.

The Corning glass company was founded in 1867 in what is now Corning, N.Y., and entered the housewares business in 1915 with its invention of Pyrex bakeware.

Corning's biggest and fastest-growing business is its production of optical fiber, optical cable and photonic components.

AEA Investors was founded in 1969 as a private investment vehicle for wealthy industrial families such as the Rockefellers and Mellons.

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