Keep your nose to the grindstone and you'll surely succeed at Saint-Gobain Abrasives. The company makes and distributes bonded, coated, and superabrasive products to cut, shape, and polish materials such as ceramics, metals, plastics, and glass. Expanding its refining mix, the company reaches all types of industrial, construction, homebuilding, automotive, and do-it-yourself markets. The lineup of grinding wheels (more than 250,000), from sandpaper on up to diamond-based sharpeners, is sold under brand names Norton, Carborundum, Merit, and Winter. Saint-Gobain Abrasives is one of eight subsidiaries comprising the High Performance Materials sector of French manufacturing giant Compagnie de Saint-Gobain.
The global economic slowdown challenged Saint-Gobain's abrasive products, especially in regard to the construction industry. To better compete against low-cost imports, manufacturing was shifted to areas such as Mexico. But consolidation in some areas means growth in others. In mid-2010 Saint-Gobain Abrasives sold its pulp stone business, which makes large grinding wheels used in the pulp and paper business, to F.W. Roberts. Remaining production is being moved to the company's headquarters in Massachusetts. It also decided to close down its Arden, North Carolina, plant and consolidate operations with its Travelers Rest Plant, where the company expects to spend $1.4 million to increase manufacturing operations.
Saint-Gobain Abrasives also grew its coated abrasives lineup by picking up Pennsylvania-based Moyco Precision Abrasives, a primary subsidiary of Moyco Technologies. A new plant in Shuzhou, China, came on stream in 2008, too. The plant strengthens the company's position in both industrial and construction abrasives, sectors which have been experiencing double-digit growth in China.
Saint-Gobain's research and development (R&D) is beefing up, as well, at its Northboro, Massachusetts, Research and Development Center. The largest of four cross-business R&D centers, the site specializes in the research of building materials, plastics, ceramics, and abrasives, in addition to technology promoting energy efficiency in buildings. Using Saint-Gobain's own building materials, the facility itself showcases the company's products and energy saving solutions. – less