60 Years of Innovation and Evolution
Wendell P. Weeks
Chairman and CEO, Corning Incorporated
This month marks the 60th anniversary of Corning Incorporated’s precision glass plant in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. It’s a special occasion not only for the people who work at this storied facility, but for all of us at the company. The plant embodies several Corning hallmarks: a commitment to breakthrough innovation; manufacturing excellence and continuous process improvement; and a history of evolution to meet the needs of a changing market.
When it opened its doors in 1952, the plant produced state-of-the-art optical glass for binoculars and periscope lenses, aerial photography, photochromic lenses, and ophthalmic applications. When demand for those products waned in the mid-1980s, Corning evolved the plant into the center of its new LCD glass business. In fact, the engineers at this facility were responsible for a key breakthrough in fusion-draw manufacturing that led to Corning’s market and technology leadership in the display industry. Inside the plant’s modest walls, some of the world’s most remarkable alchemy takes place – a process that produces glass so pristine, a rejectable particle is comparable to a single mustard seed on a football field.
Today, the plant uses that same technology to produce Corning® Gorilla® Glass, the exceptionally thin and damage-resistant cover glass that helps protect one billion mobile devices worldwide. The facility is also Corning’s glass-melting and fusion Center of Excellence. Engineers in Harrodsburg continue to improve glass compositions and performance attributes, while working closely with scientists at Corning’s Sullivan Park Research & Development Center in New York to develop specialty glasses for entirely new applications.
Since its inception, the Harrodsburg plant has expanded five times, including Corning’s most recent $180 million expansion in 2010 to increase capacity for Gorilla Glass and photovoltaic glass. And with each expansion and technology change, our people have demonstrated their talent, flexibility, and commitment.
It is no surprise that the plant is consistently recognized as one of the “Best Places to Work” by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. We are proud of its strong culture, rich history, and proven track record of applying American innovation and manufacturing to solve some of the world’s toughest problems.
Congratulations to our Harrodsburg employees and retirees on 60 years of outstanding achievements. And thank you to the City of Harrodsburg and the State of Kentucky for providing an environment that has allowed us to thrive for six decades.