If you build it, Saint-Gobain Corporation will probably be involved. The holding company oversees the North American operations of French materials group Compagnie de Saint-Gobain. Its subsidiaries produce and distribute a wide range of consumer, construction, and industrial products including building materials, flat glass, abrasives, ceramics, containers, crystal-based technology, cabinets and countertops, high-performance plastics, and technical fabrics. Holdings include CertainTeed (insulation, vinyl siding, shingles), Saint-Gobain Container (glass jars and bottles), and Norandex (building materials distribution). Saint-Gobain Corporation has more than 350 locations throughout North America.
The company accounts for about 15% of Compagnie de Saint-Gobain's sales. (North America is the group's smallest geographic segment.) In the 1990s, much like its parent, it experienced a rapid expansion through acquisitions. That growth was curtailed during the economic downturn, which impacted the construction industry severely. Saint-Gobain also implemented cost-cutting measures such as production cutbacks.
A bright spot is the company's green manufacturing business. In 2009, Saint-Gobain Corporation expanded a production plant that makes plastic materials used for solar modules. It also invested in a new building materials research and development facility, which specializes in energy-saving technologies. In 2010 the company acquired 50% of SAGE Electochromics, with which it will partner to manufacture energy-efficient electrochromic glass. The firms will jointly build a Minnesota plant with the capacity to produce more than 4 million sq. ft. of the glass; the plant is expected to begin producing in 2012. – less