The NSG Group (NSG) plant in Collingwood, Ontario, seeks to expand its manufacturing capacity for the North American market. 

NSG’s Pilkington plant has a long-standing history in Collingwood. Since opening its doors more than 50 years ago, the plant has been manufacturing state-of-the-art glass and glazing products for customers across North America. Operating as part of the globally recognized Pilkington brand, it is one of the town’s most prominent businesses. Under the leadership of Paulo Ferreira, Collingwood’s new general manager, the plant is expanding its capacity as one of the largest glass manufacturers for the North American automotive industry.

History of the plant

The Collingwood plant traces its roots to the Libbey-Owens-Ford Company (LOF) which was founded in Ohio by Edward Libbey, Michael Owens and Edward Ford. In 1968, LOF opened its glass manufacturing plant in Collingwood. In the mid-80’s, LOF sold its glass business to Pilkington, a globally recognized British glass maker known for inventing the float glass process. Two decades later, NSG Group—one of the world’s largest manufacturers of glass and glazing products—acquired Pilkington.

Today the NSG Group operates in three main sectors—architectural, automotive and creative technology. After the acquisition was completed in 2006, the Pilkington name remained for its architectural and automotive markets. When asked about the brand name retention, Ferreira responds:
“Pilkington is a synonym for good glass.” — Paulo Ferreira, General Manager, Pilkington Collingwood

Across the three sectors, the company supplies glasses for a myriad of uses, from buildings and solar energy applications to original equipment and aftermarket replacements. https://www.nsg.com

New leadership

As the NSG Pilkington Collingwood plant seeks to expand its manufacturing capacity, the company has recently appointed Ferreira as its new general manager. Ferreira, who relocated to Collingwood from Brazil, is a seasoned leader in the industry with experience leading and managing multicultural teams in Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Belgium. He has extensive experience leading high-performance teams and working on various projects in the automotive, glazing and electrical-electronic businesses.

Asked about what makes the area special, Ferreira states the existing storehouse of skills and knowledge in the Collingwood area and its proximity to NSG’s plants in the Toledo area, as well as its closeness to the customer base in the Greater Toronto Area, makes it an ideal place. The plant has been in the original location since it opened more than five decades ago. He adds, “The integration with the local community has also been one of the key success factors for us.”

Ferreira notes that he is looking forward to collaborating closely with various local organizations to further build on the strength of the community. He says: “We would like to keep developing and fostering our relationships with the wider community.”

As a leading global glass manufacturer, the NSG Group provides the broadest range of glass products available in the world today. Continuous product innovation ensures the development of the most appropriate products for North America and the global marketplace.


Workforce of the future

The Pilkington Collingwood plant currently employs around 250 staff members, of whom around 55 are permanent, salaried employees while the rest of the staff are paid on an hourly basis. The average employee at the plant has around 25-30 years of experience. With a mature workforce, many of whom are expected to retire in the next few years, the company has found it particularly important to attract and retain new talents. It’s estimated that the plant will have 30-50 open positions over the next couple of years.

The majority of the company’s current employees live in or around Collingwood. Ferreira notes that the plant is keen to attract and develop local employees. When asked about what the company is doing to attract new talents, Ferreira responds that it provides a two-fold advantage of competitive compensation as well as a good work environment. For entry-level employees, the company provides 480 hours of paid training at the onset in addition to offering competitive hourly pay.

The plant is currently recruiting for a number of open positions and encourages interested candidates to submit their applications on the Pilkington Careers website.


“The Glass Age”: Looking ahead

In light of the growing recognition and increasing demand for glass, NSG Group’s position as one of the top glass manufacturers is especially meaningful. The global demand for glass is increasing every year, thanks to the versatility and unique capabilities of the material. To recognize the role of glass in modern technological and cultural advancements, the UN General Council declared 2022 to be the United Nation’s International Year of Glass. To celebrate this milestone, NSG Group has created a webpage with monthly themes to recognize the importance of glass in various industries around the world.

Over the next several years, the NSG is planning to expand its production capacity for its customers in the North American automotive markets. As part of this endeavour, the company has been making significant investments to upgrade the plant’s technology over the last several years to be the most advanced in the automotive glass processing industry.

This year, NSG will make a significant capital investment in its Collingwood plant as part of its efforts to install the latest, state-of-the-art technology that will upgrade its manufacturing capabilities and capacity. Asked about what the investments mean for the business, Ferreira says:
“The investments will enable NSG Group to keep its position as a top automotive glass supplier in the North American market.” — Paulo Ferreira, General Manager, Pilkington Collingwood

As a result, the Collingwood plant—NSG’s largest facility in North America producing windshields—is planning to increase its current capacity of windshield production by 20 percent. The enhanced capacity would make the glass facility one of the largest manufacturers of windshields in North America.

It’s an investment worth raising a glass for.

Paul Ferreira

Photo Credit: Dave West Photography

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